Call for Papers – New Perspectives on Contemporary German Science Fiction
Edited by Lars Schmeink and Ingo Cornils
The German influence on science fiction is substantial, even though it might not register as obvious in the minds of many academics, even less with fans around the world. Kurd Laßwitz might be an overlooked father of science fiction, taking a backseat to the popularity of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne due to a lack of translation, but his Auf zwei Planeten, a novel about a conflict with a Martian civilization, has preceded the imaginations of Wells’ War of the Worldsor Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories. Similarly, cinematic science fiction owes many of its iconic images to the Weimar republic’s early film movement. Fritz Lang’s and Thea von Harbou’s Metropolis has single-handedly influenced the imaginary of future cities, and the rocket ship of his Frau im Mond was inspirational to later NASA engineers in the 1960s Space Race. Unfortunately, for a long time after this flurry of activity in sf during the beginning of the 20th century, the German participation in the genre has been low-key, internationally registering only via exceptional entries such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Welt am Draht, the long-running pulp saga Perry Rhodan, or Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller’s Andymon.
Beginning with the mid-1990s, but really coming together in the 21st century, there has been a renaissance of German science fiction activity, though. Leading the charge is a new generation of authors such as Andreas Eschbach, whose Die Haarteppichknüpferand Das Jesus Videohave changed the perception of science fiction in Germany, or Frank Schätzing, whose sf thrillers (Der Schwarm, Limit, Die Tyrannei des Schmetterlings) have garnered international attention. Similarly, German film makers such as Roland Emmerich (Stargate, The Day after Tomorrow,2012) or Tom Tykwer (Lola rennt, Cloud Atlas) have created unique sf visions both in Germany and in Hollywood.
Adding to this increase in creative output from German authors and directors is a growing interest in the transcultural fantastic both in academia and fandom alike. The Anglo-American cultural hegemony is being challenged by writers and film makers from a diversity of backgrounds and new science fictions (fantasies, horrors) emerge from China, Nigeria, Cuba, Finland, Russia and India. German sf of the post-2000 era is claiming its place in this new and transcultural movement, both in prose fiction and in cinematic form.
German science fiction has a unique contribution to make to international audiences. On the one hand, it builds on specific historical experiences as well as a diversity of theoretical impulses, including Karl Marx’s writings on capitalism and labor, Ernst Bloch’s utopianism, and Theodor Adorno’s critical theory. The experience of totalitarianism permeates much of German sf: the horror of National Socialism and the continued guilt over it, the trauma of division in two Germanies, as well as the surveillance state of the GDR. On the other hand, German speculative fiction is robust in its criticism of capitalism, with the complexity of German sf attesting to its imaginative and radical potential to challenge the hegemonic status quo.
The proposed volume aims to address a gap in scholarship and provide a venue for research in contemporary German science fiction, both literary and audio-visual. The editors explicitly seek scholarship on science fiction produced in German (language, not nationality) from 2000 onwards, with an emphasis on the 2010s, that provides new and unique perspectives on the specific contribution of German sf to world literature and cinema. The book aims to provide incisive chapters that demonstrate the variety, scope and distinctiveness of German sf production, taking into account recent developments such as the renewed interest in space opera, the explosive growth in dystopian imaginaries and alternative histories, as well as current cinematic and televisual productions.
We propose a collection of 15 essays in three sections. We are currently looking for chapters that will address the following general themes and are considering the following:
- The first section will examine „mainstream“ or genre-identified science fiction by authors who are clearly identified / who clearly self-identify as part of the sff community. Themes might be: pulp sf, space opera, dystopian writing, young adult sf, science thrillers
- The second section then examines the literary border-crossings of science fiction with the literary canon and forms associated with “ernster Literatur”. Themes might include: philosophical sf, alternate histories, political commentary, posthumanism, migration, surveillance etc…
- The third and last section analyzes the audio-visual science fiction of recent years, both in terms of television and cinematic production.
The above is an outline. We are looking for papers in this range. Possible works for discussion include (but are not limited to):
Andrews, Wes (Perplies, Bernd). Frontiersmen, Bastei Lübbe, seit 2015
Berg, Sibylle, GRM – Brainfuck, Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2019
Beyse, Jochen, Fremd wie das Licht in den Träumen der Menschen, Zurich: Diaphanes 2017
Brandhorst, Andreas, Das Erwachen, Munich: Piper 2017
Brandhorst, Andreas, Ewiges Leben, Munich: Piper 2018
Burckhardt, Martin, Score, Munich: Knaus 2015
Dath, Dietmar, Pulsarnacht, Munich: Heyne 2012
Dath, Dietmar, Venus Siegt, Frankfurt: Fischer 2016
Dath, Dietmar, Der Schnitt durch die Sonne, Frankfurt: Fischer 2017
Duve, Karen, Macht, Berlin: Galiani 2016
Eschbach, Andreas, Herr aller Dinge, Cologne: Lübbe 2011
Eschbach, Andreas, NSA – Nationales Sicherheits-Amt, Lübbe 2018
Eschbach, Andreas, Perry Rhodan – Das größte Abenteuer, Berlin: Fischer TOR 2019
Fleck, Dirk C., Maeva!, Rudolstadt: Greifenverlag 2011
Fritsch, Valerie, Winters Garten, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2015
Händler, Ernst-Wilhelm, Der Überlebende, Frankfurt: Fischer 2014
Hannig, Theresa, Die Optimierer, Cologne: Bastei Lübbe 2017
Hannig, Theresa, Die Unvollkommenen, Cologne: Bastei Lübbe 2019
Heitz, Markus. Collector, Munich: Heyne, 2012.
Heitz, Markus. Doors, Munich: DrömerKnaur, 2018.
Hillenbrand, Tom, Drohnenland, Cologne: Kiepenheur & Witsch 2014
Hillenbrand, Tom, Hologrammatica, Cologne: Kiepenheur & Witsch 2018
Jeschke, Wolfgang, Dschiheads, Munich: Heyne 2013
Jirgl, Reinhard, Nichts von euch auf Erden, Munich: Hanser 2013
Kling, Marc-Uwe, QualityLand, Berlin: Ullstein 2017
Kracht, Christian, Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten, Cologne: K&W 2008
Kyr, Oliver, Ascheland, Hamburg: Abacus 2016
Marrak, Michael. Der Kanon mechanischer Seelen, Traunstein: Amrun, 2018
Meyer, Kai. Die Krone der Sterne, Berlin: Tor, 2017
Moini, Bijan, Der Würfel, Zurich: Atrium Verlag 2018
Pätzold, Oliver, Die Letzten (Zerfall), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2016
Randt, Leif, Planet Magnon, Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2017
Schätzing, Frank, Limit, Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2009
Schätzing, Frank, Die Tyrannei der Schmetterlinge, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2018
Stein, Benjamin, Replay, Munich: CH Beck 2012
Trojanow, Iliya, EisTau, Munich: Carl Hanser 2011
Uhrmann, Erwin, Ich bin die Zukunft, Innsbruck: Limbus 2014
von Steinaecker, Thomas, Die Verteidigung des Paradieses, Frankfurt: Fischer 2016
Vogt, Judith. Roma Nova. Bastei Lübbe, 2018.
Weiner, Richard M., Aufstand der Denkcomputer, Marburg: LiteraturWissenschaft 2014
Whey, Florian Felix, Toggle, Berlin: Galiani 2012
Zeh, Juli, Corpus Delicti. Ein Prozess, Munich: btb 2010
Zeh, Juli, Leere Herzen, Munich: Luchterhand 2017
Cinematic & Televisual SF
2030 – Aufstand der Alten / Aufstand der Jungen, TV-Production, 2007/11
Acht Tage, TV Mini-Series, 2019
Dark, Netflix-Serie, 2018-
Das letzte Land, 2017
Der letzte Angestellte, 2010
Die innere Zone, 2013
Die kommenden Tage, 2011
Die Wand, 2012
Immigration Game, 2016
Wovon träumt das Internet?, 2016
Transfer. Der Traum vom ewigen Leben, 2010
Wir sind die Flut, 2016
In order to reach a broader international audience, we are seeking a publication in English. Publication is sought with a renowned university press (such as Liverpool UP, Wesleyan UP, U of Wales P) or a leading academic publisher (Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan).
Abstracts of no more than 300 words (incl. bibliography) and a short biographical note should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1st, 2019. After acceptance, papers are due on January 1st, 2020, publication is likely to be early in 2021.