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What Happened to Arab Science Fiction?


 Continuing our coverage of Arab science fiction, here is Nesrine Malik in the Guardian on What Happened to Arab Science Fiction?

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.


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