CC-licensed Muslim sf anthology

Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad sez, "I am the editor of Islam and Science Fiction which has been previously featured on Boing Boing. Back in 2007 I co-edited "A Mosque Among the Stars, an anthology of muslims in sci-fi. We are now releasing it for free under a Creative Commons license."


    1. or Christians or Hindus or Jews. Or economy for that matter. Basically the Earth is really f-ing boring in Star Trek.

  1. Mr. Ahmad — I am excited to learn of your anthology and I can’t wait to read it.

    Salaam Alaykum!

  2. Thanks to whomever beat me to the Dr. Bashir comment, I really liked the actor, his character, and the fact that his culture came through in the role (I remember when watching the pilot, he asks the replicator for “couscous and carrots” IIRC).  Overall, he was one of the better actors in one of the best, most serious “Star Trek” spinoffs (or as a friend of mine put it, “it’s a war movie that happens to be in space”).  Frankly, I wish that Trek characters would all show more Terran regionalism (the only ones who ever did IIRC were Chekov with the Russian thing and later on, McCoy doing the Southern Dude thing, with some Irish Schlock from O’Brien and Mandatory Asian Predictable Stuff from his wife).

    RE the anthology–fascinating topic to anchor an anthology to; it’s downloaded and going on the Kindle as soon as the battery recharges on the little bugger.

    Also forgot about New Mecca RE Riddick also (which is one of my fave schlock sci-fi late nite channel-surfing guilty pleasures). 

    Also, coulda sworn there was a Muslim character in Babylon 5?  Help me out here folks.

    As far as religion in general in SciFi:  Don’t forget the preacher in Firefly! 

    Factoid Tidbit:  When the Crown Prince of Jordan did his cameo, he couldn’t have any speaking lines as he wasn’t in the Actors Union or somesuch. 

    On a related note, I can’t think of any overtly Jewish characters in SciFi (cue Mel Brooks’ “Jews in Space…”).  Help me out here.

    1. I can’t think of any overtly Jewish characters in SciFi

      You have to paw through it, but Wikipedia has a list of fictional JewsA Canticle for Liebowitz is full of religious characters.  Besides that and Ivanova in B5, it’s pretty spare.  Or someone interested in SF needs to work on the list.

    2. The Federation is literally a socialist paradise built on technology.  They don’t even have money.  It isn’t shocking that it is nearly devoid of religion and other forms of mysticism.  You can point out that they lack Jews and Muslims, but they also lack Christians.  Occasionally someone will make an oblique non-committal reference to “god” or an afterlife, but I can’t recall ever having a Star Trek character (and I have seen them all)  refer to Jesus or Christianity.  The only vaguely real life religion to get any play time in the federation is some quasi Navajo anamalism in Voyager because Voyager Chakotay needs to occasionally bore us with tales about his spirit animal.  The Federation is a socialist ideal made real with technology.  Part of that utopia package, one presumes, is shucking off of believing in angry (or even friendly) sky men.

      Sci-fi just isn’t keen on religion.  When religion arises, it tends to end up the way it does in Dune, where it if it isn’t an outright force for evil, it is at least archaic and likely insidiously acting as an interest for something else.  I think that there are a few reasons why sci-fi tends to do this.  

      First, it is just a projection of where we are going.  Rates of religiousness plummet the wealthier and more educated a modern civilization gets.  I think most people recognize this and stuff it into their sci-fi.  

      Second, sci-fi has a hard time exploring religious themes.  That isn’t to say it can’t and never does, but the vast majority of even those stories read like they were written by an atheist scoring points against god.   Sci-fi, at its heart, is about exploring technology and cultures other than our own.  Dragging real world modern day religions into that sort of setting is hard. 

      Finally, it probably doesn’t help that sci-fi nuts are significantly less likely to be religious or devoutly religious than the normal population. People go to sci-fi for escapism.  If you truly and devoutly believe that there is real magic in the world and god(s) watching over you that are going to give you some sort of afterlife, you are already getting a healthy dose of escapism.  It seems a bit silly for someone to truly believe that they live in a world of real magic and god(s)… then go immerse themselves in a sci-fi world where they know it is all pretend.  

      Frankly, the only reason why I would bother to read something that calls itself “Islamic sci-fi” is because I am hoping that what I am REALLY going to get is Arab sci-fi.  I wouldn’t touch a book that touts itself as a book about Christian or Jews sci-fi with a 10 foot poll.  Eh, I’m a godless heathen.  I don’t need magic pretend slathered on my ray gun pretend.

    3. On a related note, I can’t think of any overtly Jewish characters in SciFi (cue Mel Brooks’ “Jews in Space…”).  Help me out here.

      Dark Helmet?

  3. Does Dune count?  Religion there seems to be a mashup of existing religions, but it seems like Islam came out dominant in the mix.

    Personally, I find the absence of religion in SF disappointing, but much worse is the kind of vague and bland religion of the Preacher in Firefly.  It kind of seemed like the writers figured he should be religious, but they know next to nothing about any real religions, so they shrugged and made him say something about God.  His character would have been so much richer if he was a persecuted Baptist from Planet Pope or something.

    Also, Jen, wasn’t Picard Quebecois? And you forgot Scotty!

    1. Picard was from France. He goes back to his family’s vineyard in La Barre in the episode Family when the Enterprise is being repaired after the Borg smacked them around like a redheaded stepchild. France seems to have been conquered by the British at some point since his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all speak with a British accent. At least they did until Generations, when we learn that the reason Picard has been so emo for most of the movie is that he’s just learned that his brother and nephew died in a fire.

  4. There’s quite a bit of Islam in science fiction, even if the book itself is not Islamic. I have known Muhammad for five years, only once in person and we remained friends since then. I love his project, and I have collaborated with him when I can, pointing him to books where there are Muslims or where Islam is depicted. 

    Even if I am a hardcore atheist, to the point that I draw Muhammad the prophet yearly, I love what Muhammad, my friend, is doing. No matter what we want, religion is not going away anytime soon, and frankly, as long as religious people are humane and understand that it IS acceptable that others mock their beliefs, that’s part of living in mixed society, as long as their institutions don’t try to change the laws or make my life hell or discriminate against others, I am fine with religions. Muhammad’s project is a blend of one of my cultures, science fiction, with something that’s exotic and intriguing, Islam. It’s a view to a part of the world with interesting things to offer, but that is not as well connected to me as America or Europe. It’s an opportunity to learn, to be delighted and surprised, to get off the beaten path and watch SF from another angle. 

    This beautiful blend of the old, the new, the familiar and the exotic not only is interesting, but can also teach us a lot about current day societies and visions of Islam that are not what we traditionally see. Of course, there’s a lot of barbarism and misogyny in Islam, but not in all its version, and you can enjoy the aesthetics of it without swallowing the whole thing. I still like to go into churches every now and then just to appreciate their interior.

    What Muhammad does is the kind of thing that makes globalization so wonderful, something what makes worth living in these times. 

  5. Why not formats other than pdf?
    You know, like mobi or epub…
    I hate to read pdf in my ebook reader.

  6. Regarding Islam in science fiction–those of us prone to reading  would probably cite (for starters) Charles Stross’s “Accelerando” and Richard K. Morgan’s “13.”

  7. I wish when someone writes about “released under a Creative Commons License” they would ALWAYS specify which one.  It really does make a huge difference.

  8. L_Mariachi beat me to the “We see things differently” reference. Great stuff.

    Given that Sci-Fi is about shaking up worldviews and posing big hypotheticals, its seems rather ironic that half these comments are about Star Trek. Rather vindicates the existence of the Muslim Sci-Fi anthology in the first place.

  9. I suspect we see little religion, including the Muslim religion, in SF is due to the fact that most ‘science’ sees religion as a silly little superstition which mankind has decided, in the future, to put aside for the betterment of mankind.

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