Jan FurstAfter reading Jan Furst’s new novel Ultimate Downsizing, I decided to sit down and ask the energetic  author a few questions about himself and his new book.

Zach Freeman: On your website it says that you published your first book in 1931. How many books have you published over the years?

Jan Furst: I have only published three books. Thorfinn Thorhallson’s Saga is also published in Norwegian.

Z: Also, on your website it says you were born in 1913 and that Ultimate Downsizing was published in 2005. So, you were 92 when this book was published. That’s pretty impressive. Do you know any other authors your age?
J: I know very few people my own age, and none of them are authors.

Z: Have you read the book Anthem by Ayn Rand? In that book she portrays a similar communistic future world to the one that you have laid out in Ultimate Downsizing, where all people are equal and the government controls reproduction and job placement, but in Anthem she addresses the loss of individuality and control of one’s destiny. How do you feel about the future painted in your book and its impact on the individual’s ability to choose their own course?

J: No, I have not read that book, but I will read it.
    In my book I say somewhere that people live like well-off pensioners live on Planet Earth today.
    Based on my own experience, I cannot see any reason for loss of individuality in that kind of life:
    Well-off pensioners are not under the same mental pressure, as they were during their working life.
    While we grow up and until pension age, we are under constant pressure: To get an education, to make a living and get the hardware and property we consider necessary for a comfortable life, to find a spouse, start a family and establish a good relationship in the work-place and in the community…and still have enough “elbowroom” to enjoy our spare time…if we have any. This constant pressure make us adjust our individuality to our circumstances.
    A healthy, well-off pensioner will be less stressed than the rest of the population, and can be “them selves”, and enjoy life.
    When it comes to control of our own destiny, only a very small percentage of the world’s population have that anyway. And how many of us are so lucky that we enjoy the work we have to do for a living?
    People in my book are free to enjoy their hobbies, which may be sports, music, theater, reading, visual arts, and are performed as “not for profit” activities, where performers may acquire recognition, admiration and fame, instead of the money they don’t need.
Z:  At a few intervals in the book, the main character, Ossie, begins to worry about the world being a bit boring with all of the problems being solved: (“there were no real problems to be solved, no real challenges for young people to face, no real risks to take – for better or for worse. Was this really the best way of life? Was it a lifestyle to impose on the rest of the universe?”) but ultimately, she decides that it’s for the best. Why do you think she reaches that conclusion, aside from the reason given by the Queen in the book that it is the lesser of two evils?

 J:  I had problems with that myself, because I like challenges created by unsolved problems. (My answer to people who ask why I never get bored is: “I create my own problems and spend my time solving them”)
    But when we consider our planet today, almost any solution that could eliminate the poverty, the domination of the strongest over the weak; the male domination in most of the world, for instance, the drug-pushing criminals, the fundamentalist practicing of the religions, racism etc. etc….would be a step towards a better world.
Z:  I see from your website and your card that you are a retired Marine Engineer and a Marine Consultant. What led you to write a book with such far-reaching implications about the future of human life on planet Earth?

 J: As already mentioned:”I create my own problems….”
    Since I myself live, and have lived, a very fulfilling and happy life, and have seen and learned about so much misery and mismanagement at all levels of human activities, and since I have a very lively fantasy (I also write yet unpublished fairy tales) and also can afford it, I enjoy from time to time, to put my lateral thinking on paper and face the challenge: How will my writing be received by my friends and finally, by the public.
Z:  As John Lennon says in the song Imagine: “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world”. You portray such a future in your book. Do you think that a happy, healthy, communistic society is possible on this Earth, or is it wishful thinking on yours and Lennon’s part?

J:       It is wishful thinking, for sure, and it will take more than a couple centuries to establish  “The Eternal Kingdom of Peace and Harmony”… if ever.
    But I believe that very much can be achieved within reasonable time, if tolerance, mutual respect and empathy take over from the attitude of arrogance, greed and ignorance by the powerful leaders of the world 
Z:  What kind of research did you do to create the futuristic machines such as the flying jet pack and the glacier-melting water distribution system? Or did you just create those in your own mind?
J:      While I was the leader of a research organization in Newfoundland, the question of fresh-water supply by towing and melting of icebergs came up, and we were looking into it.
    I have a memory from a TV program a long time ago, where a similar device as the flying jet was shown. I have a notion that it was a secret experiment, shown by mistake.

Z: Thank you for your time.

J: I hope that I have answered your questions satisfactorily.

In a press-release statement, Furst describes himself in the following way:

“I am a 93 year old male of Norwegian descent, living on Bowen Island in British Columbia, Canada.  I am healthy and I am happy.  I have absolutely everything I need.  I need to use my resources gainfully, not just to have fun.  But you can believe I will do this in the most fun and active way possible.  My ultimate goal is to contribute to the peace movement and I will feel I have achieved success when African villages have the opportunity to express their desires for their futures and to request specific support from Canadian communities that are ready and willing to contribute support.”

Taking a step towards the idyllic Earth community that Furst envisions in his new novel, the 93 year old philanthropist is the founder of the organization African Friendship Villages Society, which aims to “transform struggling African communities into healthy, self-sustaining communities, and to empower and educate Canadian communities in global concerns by linking these two communities together”.

For more information or to contact Jan Furst, visit: http://www.thorfinn.ca/author.html

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