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Her book Croatian Tales of Long Ago (Priče iz davnine), published in 1916, is among the most popular today in large part because of its adaptation into a computerized interactive fiction product by Helena Bulaja in 2003/2006. In the book Mažuranić created a series of new fairy-tales, but using names and motifs from the Slavic mythology of Croats. It was this that earned her comparisons to Hans Christian Andersen and J.R.R. Tolkien who also wrote completely new stories but based in some elements of real mythology. - read the rest of the post.
Another excellent page, Russian Science Fiction is an English-language page put up by the Solaris club of Russian fans. It includes articles on Russian SF, information about the fan club and even convention reports. More recent, and well worth checking out.
Things changed radically after 1950, when under Soviet control, Romania underwent a forced transformation process of its social, economic and cultural structure. The Romanian writers were required to reflect in their work the social and scientific accomplishments of the communist area within the so-called 'socialist realism' trend. Censorship was everywhere: the Russian-Soviet model was imposed and the works of most of Romania's writers of the previous period, and relating to nearly all genres, were banned. Paradoxically these restrictions favoured the spreading of the SF literature which the authorities considered 'harmless', and a means of technical and scientific education. Meanwhile for the readers it was a way of escaping the immediate reality of communist drudgery. - Read the rest of the article.
Isaac Asimov once said that "true science fiction could not really exist until people understood the rationalism of science and began to use it with respect in their stories". As Khaled Diab highlighted recently in an article for Cif, there is a discernible suspicion of science in the region, particularly when it sits uncomfortably with faith. In terms of science fiction, the genre could be viewed as an extension of a "foreign" heritage with its roots in Darwinism – one at odds with a monotheist world view. Those that have managed to reconcile the two have attempted to, according to Islam Online, use science fiction as a da'wah (proselytising) tool. In one particular book the mathematical structure of the Quran and obscure religious scriptures help avert the disaster of a swelling sun, reinforcing that Islam is the "ultimate revelation".
But this deprives science fiction of its inherently subversive potential; if there is a sense of despair and censorship, what better way to counter the former and circumvent the latter than engage in flights of fancy and imagination? To vicariously revolutionise and hope via a medium of fantasy? With Arab literature so focused on classical themes, an Orwellian allegory, for instance, would tackle the present and envision a future in a more clandestine fashion than a straightforward political attack. - read the rest of the article.
Amazon.com: Between now and the end of the year, are there any other releases you're particularly excited about?
Mamatas: Well, Usurper of the Sun--our first hard SF title. It's a planetary adventure about aliens who build a ring around the Sun using planetary material from Mercury. It's interesting for several reasons: it's got scope, we follow the main character from high school to late middle-age as she dedicates herself to understanding the Builders. There's some strange humor in it (Paul Levinson namedropped Murakami in his blurb for a reason!) and a fair amount of it takes place in Berkeley, my current hometown. Also, Battle Royale: The Novel. It's a reissue, with a revised text and a long afterword by the author. At 22 pages, [the afterword is] the longest thing Takami has published, I believe, since Battle Royale itself. It's in the form of a Q/A: we cover everything from his literary influences to his favorite pro wrestlers. - read the rest of the interview.
Kilburn High Road at five—the evening rush hour—is like a tinkling river of fireflies, each bicycle with its own wavering, quivering little light, all rattling and clicking as they make their way up towards Cricklewood or down towards London. The hated rickshaws take up too much space—they are getting more numerous each day. The infrequent buses get stranded at this hour, their train of patient, puffing horses easily sidestepped by human muscle. - read the rest of the story.
The full press release is below: