Bruce Sterling’s Globalhead

Globalhead is a collection of stories by the famous Science Fiction writer Brice Sterling. Here are a few stories from the collection which have Islamic themes.

The Compassionate, the Digital: Written as a speech given by a firebrand Islamic leader; their nation has developed an artificial intelligence named FIRDAUSI, which is sent out to attack the “Buckingham Palace Genetic Bioshelter”. The idea is, i think, that machine minds will believe anything their creators build into them.

The Gulf Wars: Two Assyrian soldiers fight a campaign against a walled Elamite city. They die and are reincarnated in the present as Iranian soldiers, who remember their past.

We See Things Differently: A Muslim journalist goes to a fallen America to interview a popular Black musician who is rallying the American people (Plot spoiler: he was sent to kill the man).
[Thanks to Nikolai K for synopsis. Also thanks to Marshall A.]

Nick Sagan’s Edenborn

Edenborn prominently features a child named Haji of Muslim background who is also a Sufi. He struggles to find God’s will in a complicated future world.
[Thanks to John W. for the synopsis and to Jennifer C. for the pointer]

Here is an excerpt from a review at Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Idlewild gave us an amnesiac adolescent who discovers he’s living in a world of immersive virtual reality (IVR) created to raise him and the handful of other kids he knows because the world has been wiped out by a disease called the Black Ep. …. One of them, Isaac, disagrees with the other two on a fundamental principle: He believes they should bring back unmodified humans and use the technology to find a cure for Black Ep. …. Few of these characters are especially interesting or even convincing, except for Haji, one of Isaac’s unmodified children. Isaac has raised his kids in his Sufi Islamic faith, and Haji’s youthful struggle to discern the will of God in the plague-haunted world is not only endearing and poignant, but constitutes the most unusual element in Edenborn. It’s rare to find sympathetic treatments of religious faith in sf, and these days even rarer to find Islam portrayed anywhere as anything but a jihadist’s delusion. Haji’s presence elevates what is otherwise a moderately entertaining but thoroughly derivative book.

Joanna Russ’ Two of Them

Two emissaries from the galactic equivalent of the UN visit an asteroid mining colony inhabited by religiously conservative quasi-Muslims. The conflict in this book centers on a young girl from this society, women rights in Islam, and the potentially greater freedom she might have in the broader galactic society (Russ addresses feminist issues in most of her writing). Both the female emissary and the quasi-Muslim society are treated with sympathy, with the male emissary being the designated asker of stupid questions and mouthier of sexist platitudes.
[Thanks to Steve T. for the Synopsis]

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy

This is a famous hard sci-fi novel about the colonization and terraforming of Mars. It has many Arab, possibly Muslim characters. Sufis are also heavily featured and are portrayed in a very positive and sympathetic light. Here is an excerpt [page 9]:

“Then he sat at the central table and relaxed, feeling like he could have been on a street in Damascus or Cairo, comfortable in the wash of Arabic and expensive cologne. He studied the men’s faces as they talked. An alien culture, no doubt about it.”

Muslims/Sufis are mentioned in Red Mars on the following pages (p. 282, 304, 310).
[Entry Thanks to Andy & Maureen E.]

Niven and Pournelle’s The Gripping Hand

In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand, the character of Horace Bury is a follower of Islam in both books. In the first, he is a very major secondary character, in the second he is one of the major characters. He also progresses through arcs of starting downright villainous to becoming a redeemed protector of humanity and from simply having a heritage of Islam to taking it to heart. The book also mentions a planet I believe called “Leventine”, it is apparently where the Islamic culture settled after the space diaspora and the center of the political and cultural power. There are hints that all was not well between the mainstream empire and Leventine, but that both cultures are in the initial stages of learning to live together. [Thanks to Joe W.]

Victor Pelevin’s The Prince of Gosplan

Victor Pelevin’s The Prince of Gosplan: This is a story that appears in the collection ‘A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia’, characters walk in and out of computer games. The protagonist encounters an ‘Oriental’ guard with whom he has a long talk about Sufism. [Synopsis by anonymous]

Mike McQuay’s Jitterberg

The story is set in 2155 on Earth ruled by an tyrant of Arab background who has rendered 90 percent of Earth’s surface uninhabitable by spreading a disease called Jitterberg. The story is set in New Orleans, which is still habitable. Amoral, or even immoral executives rule the world and fight for power. The rest of the population barely survives. The protagonist Olson fights to take control of the local Light of the World (LOW). The portrayal of Arabs and Muslims is rather cartoonish.

Louise Marley’s Terrorists of Irustan

This books isn’t exactly about Muslims, though it is based upon the Taliban. Louise posits that as colonists arrive at a new planet with deadly conditions, a new prophet for a new world arises, but the Islamic roots are clear and deliberate. A really great book about totalitarianism and its affects on a society.
[Synopsis by Pamela Taylor]