Academic Literature News SF by Muslims

Islam and Sci-Fi Panel at PCA/ACA Boston April 11-14, 2012

PCA/ACA: Conference April 11-14, Boston MA

April 14, 2012 3:00 pm -4:30 pm, Conference Website
Copley Marriott Hotel in Boston

Special Roundtable Session: Countering the Master Narrative:  Locating Muslims and Islam in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Comics

Abstract: Science fiction, fantasy, and comic book literature is experiencing a “revival” in modern day Muslim communities with Muslim and non-Muslim writers use of the faith of over a billion adherents to enhance and often drive the narrative of their creative output.  Historically Muslims have had an impact on speculative fiction from the fantasy tales of the Arabian Nights, to the world’s largest epic in the form of Dastan Amir Hamza, to the time-travel stories of the 19th century Egyptian, al-Muwaylihi, to the obvious borrowing of Islamic themes by contemporary writers such as Frank Herbert and Steven Barnes, films such as Dune and Pitch Black, and music by artists such as the Last Poets; but oftentimes these connections are unacknowledged or obscured. The early interconnectedness of science fiction and fantasy to scientific inquiry in the Islamic world provided the impetus for many discoveries that spurred imaginations toward turning the impossible into the possible.  The Islamic advances in science created conditions that encouraged creativity and adventure; a belief in the dynamism of the universe arguably provided the incubation for stories of castaways (Ibn Tufail) and outer body transport (Avicenna). The embracing of science fiction, fantasy, and comic book literature within Muslim communities the world over are elements that are changing the Master Narrative that has historically excluded Islamic contributions to this genre.  This panel of presenters will explore the influence that Muslims and Islam has had in the past and continues to have on the current literary output in the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Africa.  The panelists will discuss the depiction of Muslims by non-Muslims and Muslim writers of science fiction and fantasy, comics, manga, graphic novels, and other speculative fiction.  5 minutes

Schedule: April 14, 2012 3:00 pm -4:30 pm (Salon A, Copley Marriott Hotel in Boston)

Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad has recently completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota. He has been fascinated by Science Fiction since his childhood and greatly appreciates the use of Science Fiction to illuminate relationship amongst people and the relationship between technology and man. He is also an aspiring artist and edited the first anthology of short Science Fiction stories on Islam and Science Fiction in 2008 with Ahmed A. Khan titled “A Mosque Amongst the Stars.” He is the founder and Editor of the Islam and Science Fiction website which he has been running since 2005 to address a glaring gap in literature on this subject. Muhammad will provide an overview of Muslims and Islam in science fiction, fantasy, and comics.

D. Waheedah Bilal is an Assistant Librarian at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; she is new to the field of Islam and Science Fiction. Her interests include African American studies, women in Islam, and world literature. Waheedah will discuss the image of Muslim women in science fiction and literature generally.

Rebecca Hankins is an Associate Professor, certified archivist/librarian at Texas A&M University, College Station TX.  Her previous employment included 12 years as senior archivist at The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans, the premier research repository on Africana historical documentation, and two years as Assistant Librarian at University of Arizona Library, Special Collection; Tucson, Arizona.  She has published in peer-reviewed journals and her latest publication is on Islamic science fiction and fantasy in the international journal Foundation: The International of Review of Science Fiction out of the UK.
Rebecca will speak about the negative and positive depictions of Muslims in science fiction, fantasy, and comics.

Image Source: Veezle.com