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):


Literary SF

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

Hell, 2011

Immigration Game, 2016

Wovon träumt das Internet?, 2016

Transfer. Der Traum vom ewigen Leben, 2010

Wir sind die Flut, 2016

Womb, 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 by (NEW DEADLINE!!!) October 1st, 2019. After acceptance, papers are due on January 1st, 2020, publication is likely to be early in 2021.