Last weekend, I remotely gave a talk at the Mecahdemica Conference on Science Fiction Utopias from the Muslim World. The slides for my presentation is at the bottom of this post.
Future as the Present: Science Fiction Utopias and Dystopias from the Muslim World
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad
Abstract: The utopias and dystopias produced by the Muslim world in the last 100 years are a good proxy of the aspirations of Muslim cultures. The themes from some representative utopian/dystopian works will be explored here. The first feminist science fiction utopia was imagined by the Bengali Muslim author Ruqqaiya Sakawat Hussain in 1905. In the 1930s, the Turkish author Raif Necdet imagined a secular Turkish utopia which had broken free from its past. Al-Bud al-Khamis (1987) by Ahmad Raif imagines a group of humans who have become disillusioned with Earth. They arrive on Mars where they find a tolerant and non-violent utopian society, run by an Islam like religion.
Around the same time, the Turkish author Ali Nar envisions a very different utopia in Uzay Ciftcileri (Space Farmers) where group of astronauts from Earth go on a journey, inspired from the Ascension journey of Prophet Muhammad, and land on a utopian planet where the society is organized according to a mystical form of Islam. Ahmad Tawfiq’s (2011) dystopian novel Utopia envisions a near future Arab society rife with deep class divisions where the rich live in Elysium like enclaves and the poor barely have enough to survive. Basma Abdel Aziz’s (2016) novel The Queue is set in a Kafkaesque world where the hopes of Arab Spring have been crushed. It is set in the aftermath of an unsuccessful uprising where the helpless citizens struggle to get by in their daily lives against an absurd sinister dictatorship.