From Iceland — How Do You Respond When The Norm Has Become A State Of Madness?

How Do You Respond When The Norm Has Become A State Of Madness?

How Do You Respond When The Norm Has Become A State Of Madness?

Published June 5, 2013

Hi Andri! Your stunning ‘Wild Boys’ article on the previous spread is an update of a piece called ‘In the land of the Mad Men,’ originally published in Fréttablaðið on September 11, 2010. What initially spurred you to write that article and what kind of response did you get at the time?
The article was written when I was discovering that I was acting rationally against mad development—the totalitarian revolutionary plans that had been presented as “normal.” I wanted to dismiss them in whole as unrealistic madness, and try to move the idea of “normal” into another direction. A few psychologists said I should not use the word madness in this manner. But what words do you use, then?

What has changed in the almost three years that have passed? Did you find elements of the original article out of date? And what did you feel was most important to add to the new piece?
It is not out of date in terms of being part of our history. It is important to remember how things were—to prevent these plans from emerging again and becoming normalised. Many people still believe we should develop Iceland in this way.

How do you rate Iceland’s departing government with regard to environmental concerns and economic ‘sanity’? What do you expect from the now-ruling coalition of the Independence Party and the Progressives?    
It is very hard to say. They had no opportunities for destruction; we did not have credit for Megaprojects for some time. But inside they had people that really care for the environment and the Left Greens were not keen on more aluminium projects. The national Energy Company got a new and more moderate management and policy, but still areas like Mývatn and Þjórsá are being discussed—and the whole Reykjanes Peninsula is now at stake. Because of the madness, a moderate approach to such developments is quite extreme. But now we know more, people are more aware; the environmental movement is much stronger now. The new government has some nice people—but also very extreme characters who do not regard our nature or environment as anything worth protecting.

Was there, in your opinion, enough of a discussion on environmental matters in the last elections? Why/why not?
The elections were hijacked by extreme promises of tax reduction and debt relief. The environment was hardly discussed. The Progressive party and the Independence party have said they think protection in the Masterplan is “too extreme.”

Two of your most popular novels–‘LoveStar’ and ‘Story of the Blue Planet’–have just been published internationally, in English. How did this come about and what has the reception been thus far? Where can people buy them?
They area available in English in most bookshops here in Iceland. The publisher asked for ‘Dreamland,’ but I sent them translations of ‘LoveStar’ and the Blue Planet—so they published both. Seven Stories Press in New York and then Pushkin Press for the UK version of ‘The Story of The Blue Planet.’

Lovestar was recently awarded a Philip K. Dick award. Explain the significance of this, for you personally and in terms of exposure and distribution of your works. Is Dick someone you’ve admired?
I have admired him yes. It helps to be admitted by the geeks of all geeks in the sci-fi community. But very good response, I worried actually about that, not being accepted as a real nerd. My other influences include Vonnegut, Borges, Orwell and Bulgakov.

What have you got in the works these days? Is another ‘Dreamland’ imminent, in light of the current situation?
Another ‘Dreamland’ might be possible, even a film. However, I just sent my latest book to the publisher—he is reading it now—it is closer to ‘LoveStar’ and ‘The Story of the Blue Planet.’

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