Arabic Fantasy & Science Fiction

An ongoing list of Arabic fantasy and science fiction, including some of my reviews…
    • I recommend anything by Ahmed Salah Al Mahdi, a bright new talent in the Arab World. His books provide great suspense, enchanting world building, satisfying storylines, and compelling characters.See here for his website, and here for an interview with him.

ملاذ : مدينة البعثملاذ : مدينة البعث by Ahmed Salah Al Mahdi

My review of Malaz, a futuristic fantasy novel. The prequel is coming out soon!

In this book, the plot was unpredictable in the beginning. It surprised me more than once! Eventually it was clear where the story was going, but the beginning set up space for multiple possible directions. In a sequel, it would be fun to see another possible direction explored (for example, the protagonist’s personal relationships, or the politics of various groups of people within Malaz or outside of it, or a journey through different parts of this world). The protagonist character learns, grows, and succeeds. In a sequel, it would be fun to see this character develop even more, as well as the character Jihad. I enjoyed the imaginary, futuristic Egypt. In a sequel, I would like to read even more about the landscape.

At the end of this book, I want more! I hope to see a sequel some day! However, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in an imaginative, fun story. It includes adventure, revenge, coming-of-age, and a hint of romance!

    • Rabee Jaber of Lebanon has a book available only in Arabic, كنتُ أميرً / I Used to Be a Prince, inspired largely by the tale The Frog Prince.

كنت أميراًكنت أميراً by Rabie Jaber

My Review: I liked the first and last chapters. The rest was bizarre and/or rambling. Jaber is a talented writer, but I prefer a more focused plot and more developed characters. That said, this book is remarkable for its use of a fairytale / folktale for part of its inspiration. Based on the tale The Frog Prince, the first and last chapters form a sort of frame story. It has nice parallels to two other famous pieces literature: 1) The Thousand and One Nights / ألف ليلة وليلة in that the prince is like the king, Shahrayar (they have almost the same fear), and 2) Beauty and the Beast in that the prince receives the same curse / عقابة. Finally, the ending has a surprise twist for readers familiar with The Frog Prince. Altogether, the first and last chapter provide a pleasantly refreshing Arabic contribution to folklore-inspired fantasy.

  art: ‘Warrior’ by Matt Leines








Historical/Classical Selections:

  • A True Story: Parallel English and Greek by Lucien de Samosate, the Syrian, who was born in the 2nd century when eastern Turkey was part of Syria, and whose tale A True Story concerned a voyage to the Moon: he was therefore one of the early proto-SF authors.
  • The story “Jullanar” in 1001 Nights (which tells a mermaid tale – one of my personal favorites).
  • The Time Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets ( رحلات الطرشجي الحلوجي) by Egyptian Khairy Shalaby, translated to English by Michael Cooperson

Websites and Discussions:

2 thoughts on “Arabic Fantasy & Science Fiction

  1. Barbara Dick

    Hi Melanie,

    Here is a list (below) of authors I’m working on (PhD in Arabic SF at Durham University, UK). I started out with Achmed Khammas’ 2006 Essay “The Almost Complete Lack of the Element of Futureness” available here

    I have most of them, but not all – some of them are pretty much impossible to get hold of! Though I think the Bibliotheca in Alexandria has a couple of the more elusive ones.

    Best Regards,

    Al-Hababi, Mohammad Aziz al-Habābī. Al-Iksīr Al-Ḥīāt. Casablanca: ʻUyūn al-maqālāt, 1988 or Cairo: Dār Al-Hilal, 1974

    Al-Ḥakim, Towfīq. Lū ᶜrif Ash-shabāb. Cairo: Dār Maṣr Lil-Ṭabāᶜa, no date.

    Al-Ibrahim, Taiba Ahmed. Al-Insān Al-Mutaᶜdad. 1992.

    Al-Sibāᶜi,Yūsuf. Leesto Waḥdak. Cairo: Dār Maṣr Lil-Ṭabāᶜa, 1970.

    Al-Quwayrī, Yūsuf. Min mofkirat Rajul lam yūlad. Benghazi: Dār Al-Rūwād, 1997.

    Al-ᶜshrī, Moḥammed. Khiyāl Sākhin. Beirut: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2008.

    Al-ᶜshrī, Moḥammed. Tufāḥat Al-Ṣaḥrāᵓ. Beirut: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2007.

    Al-ᶜshrī, Moḥammed. Ghādat Al-Asāṭīr. Beirut: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2009.

    Fārūq, Nabil. Milāf Al-Mustaqbal series

    Faqih, Ashraf Iḥsān. Nayīf wa ᶜshrūn ḥīāt. Beirut and London: Dār Al-Ḥarf Al-ᶜrabī, 2006.

    Faqih, Ashraf Iḥsān. Ṣāᵓd Al-Ashbāḥ. Riyadh: 1997.

    Faqih, Ashraf Iḥsān. Ḥanīnan Ila Al-Nijūm. Riyadh: 2000.

    Idrīs, Yūsuf. Al-Jins al-Thālath. Cairo: Nahḍet Miṣr, 1971 .

    ᶜnāyat, Rājī. Al-Ashbaḥ al-Mushāghiba. 1995.

    Mūsa, Ṣabrī. As-Sayīd min al-hoql al-asfānkh.

    Kamāl, Zohir. Ṣayīd Ath-Thelj. Beirut: Arab Scientific Publishers, 2006.

    Khafājī, Omayma. Jarīma Al-ᶜālam. 1994

    Mᶜāṭi, Ṣalāḥ. ᶜyūn Ainshtein: Quṣuṣ min al-Khiyāl Al-ᶜlmī. Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organisation, 2006.

    Mᶜāṭi, Ṣalāḥ. Al-Kawkab al-Jinna. Cairo: Dār Al-Fārūq, 2008.

    Maḥmūd, Muṣṭafa. Al-ᶜnkabūt. Fifth Edition. Cairo: Dār Al-Mᶜārif, 1989.

    Maḥmūd, Muṣṭafa. Rajul taḥt al-Ṣifr. Cairo: Dār Akhbār Al-Youm, 2008.

    Manṣūr, Anīs. Illathina Habaṭū min Al-Samāᵓ. (1989) Twelfth Edition. Cairo: Dār Al-Shūrūq, 2010.

    ᶜmrān, Ṭālib. Jazīrat Al-Mūt (Quṣuṣ min al-khiyāl al-ᶜlmī). Damascus: Arab Writers’ Union, 2007.

    ᶜmrān, Ṭālib. Al-Azmān Al-Moẓlama. Second edition. Damascus: Dār Al-Fikr, 2006.

    ᶜmrān, Ṭālib. Faḍāᵓ Wāsᶜ ka Al-Hilm. Damascus: Dār Al-Fikr, 1997.

    ᶜmrān, Ṭālib. Leesat fī al-qamr fuqarāᵓ. Damascus; Dār Al-Fikr, 1997.

    ᶜmrān, Ṭālib. Rajul min Al-Qārat Al-Mafqūda. Damascus: Dār Al-Fikr, 2002.

    Raᵓif, Aḥmed. Al-Buᶜd Al-Khāmis.

    Sherīf, Nihad. Raqm 4 Yā mrkum.

    Sherīf, Nihad. Qāhr Al-Zaman.

    Sherīf, Nihad. Sukān al-ᶜālam al-thānī.

    Towfīq, Aḥmed Khāled. Utopia. Doha: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010.

    Qāssem, Qāssem. Lᶜnat al-Ghraiyūm.

    Waṣfī, Rᵓaūf . Ash-Shabāḥ fī al-Faḍāᶜ. Cairo:

    Waṣfī, Rᵓaūf . Kabitān al-Faḍāᶜ fī Rihlat Ghāmida. Cairo: Dār Al-Mᶜārif, 2006.



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