When readers think of the traditions of science fiction, it is almost always assumed the originations are rooted in the west. After all the classic tales of invisible men, undead monster, vampires, and travels to other worlds are all written by western authors. However, contrary to the idea only the west has produced classic sci-fi, the Muslim world has a long science fiction tradition of its own.
In fact, Muslim authors have been penning tales of magic and mystery since the 8th century. But that shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone, after all, who do you think came up with the stories in One Thousand and One Nights. Fortunately, Muslim science fiction does not stop there. Looking through history, readers are able to find a wide variety of stories. There are stories featuring strong female characters, those tackling the future, and even a few incorporating social issues.
Unfortunately, in spite of the Muslim world’s history with the genre, we rarely see any acknowledgment of it. In fact, for the most part, science fiction is largely portrayed as a western construction. Whenever references to mythology are made in science fiction, it is usually to western traditions. The stories are usually set in either the West, and it is even rarer to find a story featuring a non-white character.
In an era where we constantly talk about the need for diversity in media, shouldn’t books also reflect the world we live in? More often than not it is forgotten that there are other cultures with their own science fiction traditions. The tradition of Muslim science fiction demonstrates that there are other stories to be told, the world just ignores them.
For the sake of adding more voices to the conversation, there should be more of an effort to shed light on the tradition of Muslim fiction. There are many different stories that can be told and voices that can be added to the science fiction realm. Doing so can only serve to improve the genre and give readers new and exciting stories.
Youtube Channel: PBS News Hour
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