Arab and Muslim Science Fiction

Critical Essays


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About the Book

How is science fiction from the Arab and Muslim world different than mainstream science fiction from the West? What distinctive and original contributions can it make? Why is it so often neglected in critical considerations of the genre? While other books have explored these questions, all have been from foreign academic voices. Instead, this book examines the nature, genesis, and history of Arabic and Muslim science fiction, as well as the challenges faced by its authors, in the authors’ own words. These authors share their stories and struggles with censors, recalcitrant publishers, critics, the book market, and the literary establishment. Their uphill efforts, with critical contributions from academics, translators, and literary activists, will enlighten the sci-fi enthusiast and fill a gap in the history of science fiction. Topics covered range from culture shock to conflicts between tradition and modernity, proactive roles for female heroines, blind imitation of storytelling techniques, and language games.

About the Author(s)

Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely is an accomplished science fiction author with three novels to his name and seven edited volumes of short stories published on behalf of the Egyptian Society for Science Fiction (ESSF). He is the director and founder of the ESSF and is also a medical practitioner and associate professor of ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Minia University, Egypt. He lives in Cairo, Egypt.

Emad El-Din Aysha was formerly an adjunct assistant professor at the American University in Cairo. Currently he is a freelance journalist, translator, academic researcher and science fiction author with one anthology to his name, and a member of the ESSF and its chief translator. He lives in Cairo, Egypt.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely and Emad El-Din Aysha

Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 396
Bibliographic Info: 45 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8523-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4317-5
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely 1

Section I—Whose Science Fiction?
Marcia Lynx Qualey 3
Dividing Lines: The ­World-View of Science Fiction
James E. Gunn 5

Section II—Local Voices: Essays and Interviews
• North Africa •
The Continuum: Four Waves of Egyptian ­Sci-Fi
Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely 10
Mapping the Maghreb: The History and Prospects of SF in the Arab West
Kawthar Ayed 20
The Mechanics of Writing Algerian SF: Resistance to the Speculative Tools of the Trade
Faycel Lahmeur 28
Libyan SF: A Short Story in the Making
Abdulhakeem Amer Tweel 39
The Survival Guide to Egyptian Dystopia and Apocalypse: ­Post–Arab Spring ­Sci-Fi Comes of Age
Ahmed Salah ­Al-Mahdi 47
Mending the Egyptian Gap: A Case Study in the Problems Facing ­Arab-Islamic Science Fiction
Emad ­El-Din Aysha 56
Morocco, Then and Now: The Struggle for Arabic Science Fiction
Mouad Bouyadou 65
Interview with Ziane Guedim: Prospecting the Next Generation of Algerian SF Writers
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 71
• The Levant •
Science Fiction Literature: A Very Personal Journey
Taleb Omran 76
Interview with Jeremy Szal: Global and Local Imperatives in Lebanese Science Fiction
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 82
The Arabs Haven’t Given Up on Utopia Just Yet: The ­Nano-Ethics of Heaven on Earth
Fadi Zaghmout 92
The Story of Syrian SF: The Struggle for a Voice of Its Own
Mohammed Abdullah Alyasin 100
Exiled to the Future: Mental Hurdles on the Road Towards Palestinian Science Fiction
Emad ­El-Din Aysha 111
• Gulf •
An Eye on the Past, an Eye on the Future: Charting an Independent Course for Iranian SF
Zahra ­Jannessari-Ladani 124
The Family in Time: An Expatriate’s Pilgrimage to a Better Future
Ibrahim ­Al-Marashi 141
Turning Youthful Curiosity into an Arab Growth Industry
Noura Al Noman 148
Pursuing the Imagination: One Kuwaiti’s Experience with Science Fiction and Other Abnormals
Abdulwahab ­Al-Rifaee 154
Interview with Farkhondeh Fazel Bakhsheshi on Publishing Science Fiction in Iran
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 162
An Interview from Kuwait: Dr. Naif ­Al-Mutawa, Creator of The 99, on Therapy, the Comics Industry, and Muslim Modernization
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 168
SF for a Troubled Nation: An Interview from Yemen with Wajdi Muhammad ­Al-Ahdal
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 179
Black Magic and Djinn in Omani Literature: Examining the Myths and Reality
Manar Al Hosni 185
• Europe, Russia and Central Asia •
The Codex of Bosnian SF: Raspberries on the Edge of Chaos
Harun Šiljak 194
Science Fiction in Turkey: Skirting the Edge of a Remembered Future
Gamze G. Özfırat and İsmail Yamanol 199
A Talk with Shamil Idiatullin: Muslims in the “Contracting” Universe of ­Post-Soviet SF
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 206
Hamid Ismailov on the Remnants of Central Asian Fantasy and Science Fiction
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 217
Perceiving Afghanistan: Abdulwakil Sulamal on Realism, Translation, and Fantastical Literature
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 230
Falling in Love with Science Fiction: From Turkey to Tomorrow
Müfit Özdeş 240
Girlhood Dreams: An Interview with Funda Özlem Şeran on the Necessity of Turkish ­Sci-Fi
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 244
• South Asia •
The Hero in All of Us: Saqib Sadiq on Muslim SF in the English Language Mirror
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 251
The Indian Recipe for Good Science Fiction: Technology, Politics, and Religion
Sami Ahmad Khan 259
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad: An Interview on Islam and ­Sci-Fi, AI Ethics, and Sustainable Development
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 268
• Africa •
The Expanse of Mauritanian SF: Tuning French to a Future Informed by the Past
Moussa Ould Ebnou 276
From Arrakis to Senegal: The Science Fiction of Interfaith Dialogue and Spiritual Coexistence
Mame Bougouma Diene 288
Rafeeat Aliyu: Identity, Islam, and Women’s Writing Meet in ­Afro-Futurism
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 299
A Bird’s-Eye View of the Comic Book Scene in Nigeria
Ashiru Muheez Afolabi 304
The Sudan and Genre Literature: Between Historical Speculation, Magic Realism, and Science Fiction
Amir Tag Elsir 309
• Far East •
Science Fiction: A Living Reality for Every Malaysian
Azrul Bin Jaini 313
Raising the Elements of Locality and the Moral Story in SF: An Attempt to Make SF a Classy Genre in Indonesia
Riawani Elyta 325
The Writer’s Prerogative: An Interview from the Philippines with Kristine Ong Muslim
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 331
Aditya Nugraha Wardhana on Indonesia’s New Wave SF: Comics, Cartoons, and Leveraging Literature Between the East and West
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 336

Section III—A Literature in Appraisal
Archiving the Future: A Conversation with Rebecca Hankins on the Fictional Frontiers of Muslim and African SF
Egyptian Society for Science Fiction 341
Under the Microscope: An Academic Appraisal of the Evolving Milieu of Arab SF
Barbara K. Dick 352
Between Two Traditions: A Testimonial on Translating Arabic Science Fiction Stories
Areeg Ibrahīm 367

Hosam A. Ibrahim Elzembely 373
About the Contributors 375
Index 381

Book Reviews & Awards

“Wide-ranging specialized material on the disparate emerging field of multilingual sf from the Arab and Islamic world”—Library Journal