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

Urdu Science Fiction Article

Urdu-MP

Jim Walker has an excellent article on Urdu Science Fiction at the Science Fiction foundation which mentions the following Science Fiction novels in Urdu.

  • Ishtiaq Ahmed’s Machini Makhlooq  (Mechanical Creatures) 1986
  • Agha Ashraf’s Ba’ghi Computer (The Rebel Computer) 1988.
  • A Hameed has also written a number of Science Fiction Novels.

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Although the “Second Edition)” has nothing on Islam in Science Fiction per se but a search on “Islam Science Fiction” leads to an article on Arab Science Fiction. Here is the article:

There are, of course, many fantastic motifs in medieval Arabic literature, as in the collection of stories of various genres Alf layla wa layla ["One Thousand and One Nights"] (standard text 15th century; trans by Sir Richard Burton as The Arabian Nights, 16 vols, 1885-8). In this, the stories of The City of Brass and The Ebony Horse could be regarded as PROTO SCIENCE FICTION. A few UTOPIAS were written too, including al-Farabi’s Risala fi mabadi’ ara’ ahl al-madina al-fadila (first half of 10th century; trans by Richard Walzer as Al-Farabi on the Perfect State 1985). The first real sf stories were published in the late 1940s by the famous mainstream Egyptian writer Tawfiq Al-HAKIM, but are not considered genre sf by Arabic critics, who nominate Mustafa MAHMUD (often transcribed Mahmoud) as the “Father of Arabic sf”. Both of these authors have been translated into English. Although there have been a lot of sf stories published in Arabic since the 1960s, few authors could be described as sf specialists. Among them, the most important is probably Imran Talib, a Syrian, author of seven sf novels and short-story collections to date. The most interesting of these are the three collections, Kawkab al-ahlam ["Planet of Dreams"] (coll 1978), Laysa fi al-qamar fuqara’ ["There are No Poor on the Moon"] (coll 1983) and Asrar min madina al-hukma ["Secrets of the Town of Wisdom"] (coll 1988), and the novel Khalfa hajiz az-zaman ["Beyond the Barrier of Time"] (1985). Talib is also the author of the sole theoretical study of sf in Arabic: Fi al-khayal al-ilmi ["About Science Fiction"] (1980). Sf is written in practically all Arab countries. In Libya, for example, Yusuf al-Kuwayri has published the novel Min mudhakkirat rajul lam yulad ["From the Diary of a Man Not Yet Born"] (1971), which gives an optimistic view of life in Libya in the 32nd century. Mysterious ALIENS affect the life and work of the hero, a Palestinian living in the occupied territories, in Palestinian Amil Habibi’s popular mainstream sf novel Al-waqa’ al-ghariba fi ikhtifa’ Said Abu an-Nahs al-Mutasha’il (1974; trans as The Secret Life of Saeed, the Ill-Fated Pessoptimist: A Palestinian who Became a Citizen of Israel 1982). Various other mainstream writers have written occasional sf stories, as in Qisas ["Short Stories"] (coll) by the Syrian Walid Ikhlasi and Khurafat ["Legends"] (coll 1968) by the Tunisian Izzaddin al-Madani. The Algerian Hacene Farouk Zehar, who writes in French, has published Peloton de tete ["Top Platoon"] (coll 1966). The role of drama in the Arab world is more important than in the West, and plays are very often published; some are of sf interest. The famous Egyptian dramatist Yusuf Idris wrote Al-jins ath-thalith ["The Third Sex"] (1971), in which the protagonist, a scientist called Adam, attempts to discover the enzymes of life and death and travels to the Fantastic World. Another Egyptian, Ali Salim, a satirist who writes in colloquial Arabic, has written several sf plays. In En-nas elli fi es-sama’ et-tamna ["People from the Eighth Heaven"] (1965) a protagonist called Dr Mideo struggles against the bureaucratic Academy of Sciences of the Universe. Fantastic discoveries and excavations are the main topic of Ali Salim’s other sf plays, Barrima aw bi’r el-qamh ["Brace, or the Well of Wheat"] (1968), Er-ragel elli dihik el-mala’ika ["A Man who Laughed at Angels"] (1968) and Afarit Masr el-gadida ["Satan from Heliopolis"] (1972). [JO]

Short Stories

Short stories by Bruce Sterling

Green Days in Brunei – from the Crystal Express collection and Dinner in Audoghast – from the Crystal Express collection, Islands in the Net – the freedom fighters definitely draw from Bedouin culture. Thanks to Michael H. for the references]

Other Short Stories

Gwyneth Jones’s Bold As Love (Arthur C Clarke Award winner), Castles Made of Sand Midnight Lamp, Band Of Gypsies in which one of the main protagonists, Ax Preston, is a convert to Islam. This informs his actions in a fairly significant way. The issue of Islam and English society is a recurrent feature of the series. [Thanks to Peter G.]