Tor Norretranders


acclaimed science writer who found an international readership with his landmark study of consciousness, THE USER ILLUSION.

Look Ahead (SE FREM)
Book image

Don’t be afraid. It may look like everything is going to hell these days - the truth, society, peace of mind – but actually a new enlightenment is on its way. We need to find the courage to think for ourselves and to think of others. We must look ahead. We actually do that all the time already. The human brain is a predictor. It creates detailed future expectations and learns from past mistakes. We can transform our world because we can imagine a different one. This book weaves a number of new scientific discoveries together to show a new, surprising image of human beings as forward-looking creatures. All we need now is to take ourselves seriously, look ahead and deal with the planet’s crises so that life can continue.

SE FREM looks at the present with an enlightenment gaze: that each of us should act in the way we would want everyone to act.

'Denmark's foremost and most insightful science writer. On top of that a deep and in many ways very original thinker. Extremely complex ideas and research findings are communicated elegantly, put in new contexts and presented with classical nørretrandersian wit.' Berlingske Tidende - Lars Henrik Aagaard (science writer)

'a brilliantly executed whopper of a book … the authors' enthusiasm and energy is infectious'. Kristeligt Dagblade

'Norretrander’s vision of a new Age of Enlightenment is sympathetic and contagious.' Information

'Norretranders shows us that our understanding of the world is relative, but also that we can navigate it despite our lack of understanding and shape the world so that the future will be better than if we leave it to itself. He believes that we can predict, because we can think, that we can plan because we can think; that we can learn from our mistakes because we can think; that humans are quite simply ‘forward looking creatures’... and because pessimists like myself exist, ‘Look Ahead’ is a very good book.' Politiken


People's Press Denmark


Material: PDF, finished copies Danish edition (417pp), English sample translation and synopsis

The Generous Man (Det Generose Menneske)

This is the new book by Scandinavia's leading science writer. It is about how helping others is the sexiest thing you can do. In THE GENEROUS MAN, Tor Norretranders develops an overlooked strand of Darwinian thought. In addition to the efficiency and survival instincts essential to successful evolution or natural selection, Norretranders argues that animal and human alike must show their worth physically by 'doing something difficult' in order to impress potential mates. Fittingly, the cover image for the book is of a peacock feather - the unwieldy plumage of a male peacock is precisely the sort of 'generous' symbol that Norretranders has in mind to convey that sexual selection almost seems to go against the cold adeptness usually associated with the 'survival of the fittest'. The peacock's plumage is useless in terms of survival, even counter-effective. The peahen sees a male able to survive and thrive with such a handicap and is smitten.


Published in hardcover to great critical acclaim by the People's Press in Denmark, 'The Generous Man' has sold over 35,000 copies, and was advertised on national television.


'Absolutely the most original ambitious book from this author since THE USER ILLUSION in 1991. A book attempting to embrace the entire human existence in all its vital aspects and also a work that in a very Norretrandersian way bridges sciences and culture. One wonders, one laughs, one is surprised, one is entertained. By its wit, originality and sheer entertainment value this work is way above the standard of the present science book scene. It is a potent book of high international standard. A very sexy book.' Berlingske Tidende

'From his first sentence - 'Welcome to this book about sex, or, more precisely perhaps, a book about how to get it' - Danish science writer Nørretranders offers his fresh, irreverent take on popular sociobiology (by this point a veritable genre). While deploying the standard tropes - a bit of game theory, descriptions of psychological experiments, some colorful anecdotes from the natural world - he does so in the service of a novel and intriguing perspective: that human generosity, creativity, cooperativeness and cleverness serve the singular evolutionary purpose of making us sexier. According to Nørretranders (The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size ), 'costly' actions, like sharing one's food and expending valuable energy on artistic pursuits, that don't directly contribute to our survival make us seem stronger and more virile. Rather than trying to transcend our sexual instincts, he claims, we should embrace them. Horniness is good! - it drives us to the limits of our capabilities. Nice guys do finish first! - at least when prospective partners are looking for more than a one-night commitment. And all the best in human endeavor, from open-source software to international medical aid, 'everything spiritual, beautiful, and wise is 'merely' an aid to getting laid.' Starred review in Publishers Weekly


'Clad in silver peacock feather and with a new publisher, Tor Norretranders' book offers a madly entertaining outline of why it pays for us humans to be both generous and skilful. [...] Norretranders is a damned good communicator: a good brain, an unfailing sense of humour - eagerly applied in this book - and an easy flow in his writing. 'Det generose menneske' is a sober and forbearing analysis of our culture.' Borsen


'It is the overarching ambition of the book to go against the prevailing idea of the rational, economic man that has rotted western thought for centuries.' Kristeligt Dagblad


'Full of thought-provoking observations.' Politiken


'Tor Norretranders shows with care, clarity and accessibility, based on numerous topical sources, that naturalism and freedom are indeed compatible. Man has, by natural means, become a cultural animal. The theory of evolution has now become so sophisticated that it is possible to understand seemingly paradoxical forms of surplus behaviour such as ethical acts and aesthetic activity. [...] While fundamentalism rages on and religious creation myths will probably soon be reinstalled with new dignity, here is sexy wisdom offering a refreshing contribution to the cultural and political debates we engage in, or should engage ourselves in.' Weekendavisen Boger


'This book will appeal to the hopeful youngsters of this decade.' Rasmus Kragh Jakobsen, Information


'I would like to focus on Norretranders' abilities as a story-teller: he has become the Jules Verne of our time, elevating to universal truths boyhood dreams of doing what you are good at and getting sex in return. 'Det generose menneske' is not a science book, but a modern novel about the emergence of culture from nature, and on top of that a novel with a happy end: Norretranders recapitulates culture with the optimism of the evolutionist.' Marie Louise Kjolbye, Information


People’s Press Denmark


Aschehoug Norway


Book House Publishing Sweden


Art House Finland


El Paradiso Estonia


Artist House Japan


Rowohlt Germany


Thunders Mouth Press USA


Woongjon Thinkbig Co Korea


Editura Publica Romania


Iztok-Zapad Bulgaria


Material: finished copies of US (350pp) Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Estonian, German and Japanese editions.

The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down To Size

'Finally a book that really does explain consciousness. And what a marvelous story it is, too, told with style, grace, humour, and intelligence. Your view of consciousness will never be the same after you've gone on the tour of the mind and spirit given here. If you're only going to read one book on consciousness, make it this one.' John L Casti, author of The Cambridge Quintet


'Building on wonderfully rich and fascinating ideas... Norretranders works up to his main thesis, that consciousness is in essence a hoax, an illusion.' Douglas Hoffstadter


Tiderne Skifter Denmark


Allen Lane UK


Penguin Putnam USA


Rowohlt Germany


Cappelen Norway


Bonnier Sweden


De Arbeiderspers NL


Kinokuniya Japan


Editura Publica Romania