New Perspectives on Contemporary German Science Fiction

New Perspectives on Contemporary German Science Fiction demonstrates the variety and scope of German science fiction (SF) production in literature, television, and cinema. The volume argues that speculative fictions and explorations of the fantastic provide a critical lens for studying the possibilities and limitations of paradigm shifts in society. Lars Schmeink and Ingo Cornils bring together essays that study the renaissance of German SF in the twenty-first century. The volume makes clear that German SF is both global and local—the genre is in balance between internationally dominant forms and adapting them to Germany’s reality as it relates to migration, the environment, and human rights. The essays explore a range of media (literature, cinema, television) and relevant political, philosophical, and cultural discourses.    


This volume seeks to fill a gap in the adjacent fields of German Literature, Science Fiction Studies, and Futures Studies. Until very recently (Esselborn 2019, Cornils 2020), there had been no comprehensive studies of German science fiction (SF), while the significant growth and popularity of the genre in Germany in the last two decades has gone almost unnoticed outside specialist journals such as Science Fiction Studies or the Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung. In the context of a growing interest in the ‘transcultural fantastic,’ and specifically in SF traditions outside the Anglophone ‘bubble’, we offer readers an overview of contemporary German SF [1] and critical analyses of its most important examples. As our contributors demonstrate, these texts, films, and TV series add their distinct voices to a global conversation about humanity’s techno-scientific advances, in terms of their impact on our planet, but also in terms of their deep and disturbing impact on the human psyche.

[1] There is a debate around the issue of what to include in this category, depending on national or language-boundaries, further complicated in film by issues of production industries. We are opting to include SF originally created in German, no matter which nationality the author or film maker has.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: New Perspectives Lars Schmeink and Ingo Cornils

    Part I: New Inspirations

  2. Going Round in Cycles: Time Travel and Determinism in the Netflix Show Dark
    Juliane Blank
  3. Popular German Science Fiction Film and European Migration
    Gabriele Mueller
  4. White German Agency in the Science-Fiction Films Transfer (2010), Die kommenden Tage (2010), Hell (2011)
    Evan Torner

    Part II: New Criticism

  5. Apocalyptic Greeneries: Climate, Vegetation, and the End of the World
    Solvejg Nitzke
  6. The Language of Ice in the Anthropocene: German Science Fiction and Eco-Literature
    Matteo Gallo Stampino
  7. Environmental Destruction and Misogyny in Karen Duve’s Novel Macht
    Clarisa Novello

    Part III: New Identities

  8. The Paradoxes of Illness and Health in Juli Zeh’s Corpus Delicti
    Mylène Branco
  9. Coming to Terms with the Present: Critical Theory and Critical Posthumanism in Contemporary German Science Fiction
    Hanna Schumacher 
  10. The End of Humanity’s Monotony: Posthumanism and Artificial Life in Dietmar Dath’s The Abolition of Species and Venus’ Victory
    Roland Innerhofer
  11. Optimizing the Human: A Posthuman Taxonomy in the Works of Theresa Hannig
    Lars Schmeink

    Part IV: New Boundaries

  12. Marc-Uwe Kling’s QualityLand: “Funny Dystopia” as Social and Political Commentary
    Joscha Klüppel
  13. Beyond the ‘Last Man’ Narrative: Notes on Thomas Glavinicʼs Night Work (2008)
    Kristina Mateescu
  14. A Utopianism That Transcends Books: Dirk C. Fleck’s Ecological Science Fiction
    Peter Seyferth
  15. Conclusion: Dark Mirrors? German Science Fiction in the Twenty-First Century
    Ingo Cornils

Die ganz überwiegend instruktiven Beiträge des Bandes dürften nicht nur die angloamerikanische Forschung zur deutschsprachigen Science Fiction voranbringen, sondern auch diejenige des Ursprungslandes der untersuchten Werke.

Rolf Löchel
University of Marburg

Insgesamt berücksichtigen die Aufsätze des Sammelbandes die wichtigsten Texte nach 2000 – aus dem Mainstream ebenso wie von den Rändern des Genres – die auf Erkenntnissen zu Klima und Umwelt beruhen und auf neue Entwicklungen in der Kommunikation und der KI-Forschung zum Teil mit posthumanen Ansätzen reagieren. Mit der Betonung der dystopischen neben der heterotopischen Tendenz entwickeln die Aufsätze eine repräsentative Vorstellung der deutschen Version des Genres, die nach dem gesellschaftlichen Schaden und Nutzen neuer Entwicklungen fragt. So wird der Band seinen Ansprüchen gerecht.

Hans Esselborn
University of Cologne

Lars Schmeink and Ingo Cornils’s edited collection New Perspectives on Contemporary German Science Fiction marks a major shift both in the study and inclusion of what it terms the German “transcultural fantastic.” […] Such an approach dismantles the thinking that Anglo-American science fiction is the sole generator of theoretical discourse. The present collection contributes to this shift through its preference for a transcultural lens over the binary that expects global science fiction to enact the Other.

Sonja Fritzsche
Central Michigan University
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