Science Fiction and Fantasy Collective in Turkey

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Science Fiction and Fantasy in Turkey seems to be reaching a critical mass. Not only is Turkey producing more Science Fiction but the quality of Science Fiction coming from Turkey has improved significantly. Thus it would be most appropriate to start the series of Turkish Science Fiction with FABİSAD (Fantasy and Science Fiction Arts Association) which is a newly created organization dedicated to the promotion of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The organization plans to have science fiction awards for Turkish Sci-Fi as well regular meetings, seminars, book drives and workshops in this area. Here is an excerpt from TimeOut with FASIBAD regarding the history of speculative fiction in Turkish:

MÜSTECAPLIOĞLU: If you go back to very old times, Turkey was a land of shamanism, which resembles high fantasy in some ways. There was an oral culture back then, and some storytellers would make fantastic illustrations to accompany their stories. My latest book is about a 13th-century storyteller, Mehmet Siyahkalem, who drew incredible illustrations of demons with snake-headed tails and other fantastical creatures to accompany his stories. A little later, there’s the epic of Dede Korkut. But when the Ottomans came and found shamanism here, they wanted to establish a new religious culture, so they tried to destroy the shamanistic roots. And after that, the republic was established. The republicans wanted to change Turkey’s religious culture into a more secularist culture, so they cut all study of fairy tales and other imaginative things from schools. Everything imaginative was hushed up.

SOYAK: Imagination became something that people began to ignore or fear. They began to spread the message that Turkey needed more factory workers than dreamers: “Don’t think, just work.” There are lots of sayings in Turkish that discourage you from being imaginative or creative. I’m not saying it’s only a bad thing — in fact, the main point of the sayings is just, “Be careful, don’t get lost in your dreams.” But there are so many of these sayings that it’s actually a little alarming.

MÜSTECAPLIOĞLU: They wanted to block all imaginative traditions and make people believe only in science and things that they can prove. There were still some artists and writers in the early republican period who ignored this, and continued producing imaginative work. But they were told that their work was childish, and that they must only write about the real Anatolia. Nobody asked the government to define reality, or why its idea of reality should be everyone else’s reality. They ignored the fact that people with strong imaginations can create a better life for themselves than the government’s so-called reality.

YÜCEL: They didn’t only ignore imaginative works, they ignored experimental novels too. Anything that wasn’t mainstream. Oğuz Atay, for instance, is now considered one of the most important Turkish writers. But he wasn’t successful in his own time, because at that time people found his novels too personal, too out of the social reality.

On the FABISAD logo:

The inspirer of the FABİSAD logo is the legend of Simorgh Phoenix and Qaf Mountain. This legend summarizes the establishment philosophy of FABİSAD as well.

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