On why there needs to be more marine biology and synthetic biology inspired speculative fiction

A larval form of an Aglaura hemistoma jellyfish, picture by Ryo Minemizu

Forgive me for the long Victorian-style title. I’m reading On the Origin of Species (finally) right now. One of the endlessly ongoing debates in science fiction is this: What, exactly, is hard science fiction? I have always taken it for granted that hard science fiction is just sci fi that …

Continue reading

Arabic Speculative Fiction

Obviously I’m into speculative fiction, but I’ve also been reading more and more books in translation in recent years, and have developed a fascination with Arabic fiction, speculative or not. So Iraq + 100 was already on my to-read list, but after reading this roundtable at Strange Horizons, I’m putting it on special order immediately. The roundtable brings together two of the contributors to the volume and two journalists who write about Arabic fiction, and the conversation ranges from the specifics of this book, to the reasons why there hasn’t historically been a strong Arabic speculative fiction tradition, to the ways current and near-past political realities may influence Arabic SF in the future.

One of the most interesting sections stems from Robin Yassin-Kassab’s comments on the influence from the situation in Syria:

I suppose I could add the trauma of war. I have a feeling that social realism would be a relevant way to approach the Syrian situation until 2013. From then on, the scale of the damage becomes so incomprehensibly enormous that some other genre becomes necessary. I think here of Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad. How else can you write about a reality of random dismemberment without calling on the resources of horror, fantasy, or SF?

Frankenstein in Baghdad is also going straight onto my to-read list.

What’s your favorite Arabic or Arabic-themed speculative fiction?

To-Read Tuesday, April 25

Four speculative fiction books from my to-read shelves/stacks.

Some of these have been on my to-read shelf WAY too long.

No library books this week? Well, no speculative fiction library books this week. I’m working on my to-read stack for this weekend’s Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thon, and needed some more genre variety. This stack reaches way back into my to-read shelves. Three of these have been hanging out there in limbo for at least a year. The PKD book, however, I just recently picked up at Michigan News in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A fantastic bookstore with a great science fiction section. (I wasn’t able to wander over to the fantasy section, or indeed, any other section before I had already exceeded my book budget for the day.)

What new bookstores have you discovered lately?