Islam SciFi Interview of Achmed Khammas


Image: Achmed Adolf Wolfgang Khammas

Backgound: This is the first interview in a series of interviews with Muslim Science Fiction authors and people who have written about Sciene Fiction with Islamic themes. Achmed Adolf Wolfgang Khammas has written on the subject of the lack of Science Fiction in Arabic Literature and has written Sciene Fiction stories himself. Achmed was born in Berlin in 1952 to a German mother and Iraqi father and grew up in Damascus. Currently he is also active in the field of sustainable energy.

Ahcmed Khammas’s Official Website: http://www.khammas.de/

M. Aurangzeb: You have written about the lack of Futurism in Arabic literature. Do you think the literary culture is going to change in the future?
Achmed: Off course I HOPE – but I can’t believe it … because of the lack of scientific thinking in the whole society. There are nearly ZERO new innovations, inventions, patents in the Arabic world. Also there is a BIG lack on the practical side. No modern industry, so everybody use imported mobile phones… but 99% don’t know ANYTHING about how they work, this is just ONE example.

M. Aurangzeb: What types of cultures do you think are more receptive to Science Fiction?
Achmed: Any cultures with a solid ground of good education, technical-industrial interest and understanding, open mind, forward thinking etc.

M. Aurangzeb: Outside of the Arab world what scope do you think Science Fiction has in the Muslim world?
Achmed: I can’t tell because I never lived there.

M. Aurangzeb: You also write Science Fiction yourself, can you please tell us about your work?
Achmed: I wrote half a dozen short stories since the 1980ies but never find the time for a novel. Also I started with sketches for a big ‘parallel-world’ work playing around 1830 at the time of Muhammad Ali in Egypt. I write only in German, because this is my first language.
My Stories are mostly ironic – and show sometimes religious influence. ‘Der Wettbewerb’ (The competition) is about the coming of the Messiah ,this is a part of my real life also, as ‘Mohammed Superstar’ tell the story of cloning the prophet Muhammad.

M. Aurangzeb:  What attracted you to Science Fiction in the first place?
Achmed: It opens my mind to new and newer and brand new ideas. Every story or novel is a kind of simulation of the recent world of today. Other people need to travel far away on holiday to recover. I only need a new space opera on 600 pages to read to be completely recovered. :-)

M. Aurangzeb: What is your favorite Science Fiction author and why?
Achmed: Well – I think I will give an unconventional answer: They are some German authors as Wolfgang Jeschke (for his marvellous ‘Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung’ about the USA triying to steal the Arabian oil 65 million years back in the past) and Thomas R. P. Mielke (for his ‘Grand Orientale 3301’ in which the retarded Europe sells windpower-made electricity to the high developed arab countries).

M. Aurangzeb: Currently you are also involved in work related to sustainable development, can you please tell us about it and does Science Fiction inform this work or vice versa?
Achmed: And yes – in SF you find a lot of new ideas concerning energy … also you can notice the influence of renewable technologies on the modern authors. As example there is a great novel by Andreas Eschbach ‘Ausgebrannt’ (Burn out) about the ending of the Saudi Oil and the influence of this matter on modern German society. You can also have a look on my synergy website.*

M. Aurangzeb: Any words of advice for writers of Arab or Muslim background who might be interested in writing Science Fiction?
Achmed: Oh yes!! I would advice them to READ, to read, to read… and not ONLY Science Fiction. But they should as much as they could – and in any possible language. I mean, there are universes and universes of written imagination and not only Star Wars – or Matrix!. Then they should try to stay up to date in scientific development, also through reading in pages, newsletters, magazines etc. There happens SO MUCH recently that as a sci-fi writer you have to write quick … before reality pass by :-))
* Note: Achmed is referring the following website in German http://www.buch-der-synergie.de/ The following video clip has some information about his work with English subtitles: http://www.buch-der-synergie.de/trailer.html

New Contributor at Islam SciFi

Islam and Science Fiction website would like to welcome a new contributor to the website, Rebecca Hankins. She is an Associate Professor as well as a librarian at the Texas A&M University. She has written an extensive article on the subject of Muslims and Islam in Science Fiction. Her interested include African Diaspora, Women Studies, Muslims and Islam in Science fiction, fantasy, and comics, Middle Eastern/Islamic Studies. She would be a valuable addition to the website. Welcome to the website Sister Rebecca!

Fictional Islam: A Literary Review and Comparative Essay on Islam in Science Fiction and Fantasy

This article will provide a literary review of some scholarly writings on Islamic science fiction and fantasy and an analysis of two novels that incorporate Muslims and Islam in their science fiction storyline, one from Brian Aldiss’s HARM (2007) and Ali Mazrui’s The Trial of Christopher Okigbo (1971). Although over 30 years separate the publications of Aldiss and Mazrui, the similarities in some of the themes of both books are uncanny and offer some interesting observations on Islam as imagined in the science fiction genre, past and present, minor and major.

Published in the journal Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction Issue 105: Fall 2009.

The complete article can be downloaded here.

Interview of Ahmed Khammas in the Zenith Magazine page (in German):

Here is an interview of Ahmed Khammas in the Zenith Magazine, about whom I have written about in the past regarding his take on the lack of futureness in Arabic. The interview is in the German language. Khammas aslo writes Science Fiction in the German language under the pseudonym Ghassan Homsi.

What is Islamic Science Fiction?

Ahmed A. Khan, a Canadian Science Fiction writer and who was also the co-editor of the Anthology A Mosque Amongst the Stars with me has an article on what constitutes Islamic Science Fiction. Here is his definition of Islamic Science Fiction.

Islamic SF would be any speculative story that is positively informed by Islamic beliefs and practices. Below is a partial list of what we could consider as Islamic SF:

1. Any speculative story that strives to state the existence of the One God as described above.

2. Any speculative story that exhorts universal virtues and/or denigrates universal vices.

3. Any speculative story that deals in a positive way with any aspect of Islamic practices, like hijab, fasting, etc.

4. Any speculative story that features a Muslim as one of its main characters and the actions of this Muslim in the story reflect Islamic values.

5. Any speculative story which takes on one or more elements from the Qur’an or the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), in a positive way.

The complete article can be read at the following URL:

Islamic Science Fiction Coming Into Light

Achmed Khammas on The Almost Complete Lack of the Element of “Futureness”

Achmed Khammas has written a fascinating article The Almost Complete Lack of the Element of “Futureness” which discusses why there is an almost lack of interest and even awareness about Science Fiction in the Arab world. One of the reaons why there is an almost lack of futureness in Arab Fiction is because “they prefer to hark back to a glorious past, which, in hindsight, appears brighter and shinier than any imaginable future in these desolate economies, under these rigid regimes and under the increasing pressure of globalisation. This behaviour is understandable, since these things are constantly present in everyday life for most Arab people. And for many, the daily reality proves that the war is a long way from being over.” While one may or may not agree with Achmed Khammas’ analysis but it is definitely worth a read. His analysis can be summarized by the following quote from Dr. Omar Abdelaziz. A scientific novel which is connected with phantasy cannot fall on fertile ground in an environment of preprepared answers and rejection of a culture of knowledge. The complete article can be read at the following URL:

The Almost Complete Lack of the Element of “Futureness”

Anthony Burgess’ 1985

Anthony Burgess’ 1985 was intended as a tribute to George Orwell’s 1985. The two major themes of the novel are the rise of trade unions and the influence of Islam and Muslims as a sinister force in Britain mainly because of a large scale immigration of Muslims from the Middle East. There is a conspiracy afloat for the Muslim takeover of Britain.

Stephen Baxtor’s Navigator

Here is the book description from Amazon.

As William the Conqueror’s men attempt to stamp out the flames of rebellion, a prophecy is uttered. A bedraggled woman in a ruined chapel speaks of civilizations in conflict, armed by the engines of God…

And that prophecy proves to be true as the fearsome war between Christianity and Islam leaves its mark across the land. In Spain, a rogue priest dreams of the final defeat of Islam, for he has found a rent in the tapestry of time, a point where agents from the future used diabolical weapons of destruction to change history. Centuries later, in 1492, as men of vision weary of the strife and are drawn to the unknown West, one such explorer seeks the funding for his voyage- while a mysterious Weaver plots to unravel the strands of time and stop him.

Thanks to Ahmed N. for the pointer.

A Mosque Among The Stars Released

A Mosque Amongst The Stars, an anthology that I was co-editing with Ahmed A. Khan has been released. More information on the book can be found on the book webpage here. The table of contents is available here and contributing author bios can be read at this webpage. Currently the book can be ordered via e-mail by sending an e-mail to Ahmed A. Khan at: zc.press@gmail.com