Franz Rottensteiner, editor of anthologies like The Black Mirror & Other Stories: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Germany & Austria and View from Another Shore: European Science Fiction is interviewed at Journey Round My Skull. Here’s an excerpt:
There must be many European fantasy writers who have been translated into several European languages, but not into English. There are, after all, huge international bestsellers (not in fantasy) that either never were translated into English or, when they were, made absolutely no impression. This is especially true for genres like mysteries or thrillers in which there is an abundance of English language writers. Writers who are bestsellers in Germany or France naturally attract much interest in other European countries and are widely translated. And there is the case of Donna Leon, the American mystery writer living in Italy. I doubt that many American readers even know her name. But she is a huge success in Germany, with 17 novels set in Venice so far. And in the wake of the German success she has been translated in many European countries. Ephraim Kishon, a Hungarian-Israeli writer, is a giant bestseller in Germany, but although most of his books have been translated from English and not Hebrew, and he is appearing in English, he hardly has any presence in the U.S.
A gamer rather than lit one, but too much fun not to mention!
A report in English, complete with some excellent pictures, is here.
The archives of the SF Studies journal are full of fascinating articles, and Manfred Nagl‘s SF, Occult Sciences, and Nazi Myths is certainly no exception! Looking at German science fiction of the Nazi period, Nagl examines the relationship between fiction and reality in such topics as Glacial Cosmogony, the Atlantis/Thule myth, The Hollow World theory, and Theozoology – and their effects on Nazi ideology:
The Atlantis-faith and Glacial Cosmogony also inspired the about 600 members of the “Society for Space Flight”15 who wished to escape from the German misery by means of spaceships. They wanted to discover “new worlds, as modem conquistadors”; they planned to augment Germany’s greatness by building a space-station whose “strategic value” was among other things to consist, as Willy Ley wrote, in “creating tornadoes and rainstorms, destroying marching troops and their supply-lines, and burning entire cities.” Thanks to the active propaganda of this society, the idea of space travel grew so popular that moon-rockets became a regular item in carnival parades, and Fritz Lang was stimulated to make the film The Woman in the Moon (1928) for which he asked the Society for expert advice.
The leading Nazis had a special weakness for the Atlantis myth. The racist professor and pamphleteer Herman Wirth played a leading role in this connection, advocating in their inner councils “a tremendous turning back of culture, away from the age of reason and consciousness, toward the age of a ‘sleepwalking certainty,’ the age of supra-rational magic.” Heinrich Himmler and Wirth founded the “Study Group for Spiritual History” “Deutsches Ahnenerbe” (German Heritage) which propagated such pseudo-sciences and which was, for example, responsible for the deep-freeze experiments (with subsequent coition, “an ancient folk-remedy”!) in the concentration camps, as well as for the collection of skeletons in Strasbourg plentifully supplied from murdered “inferior race” specimens. – read the rest of the article.
The Black Mirror & Other Stories is a 2008 anthology of German and Austrian science fiction short stories, edited by Franz Rottensteiner and translated by Mike Mitchell. It is published by the Wesleyan Press. Adam Roberts reviews it this week over at Strange Horizons, beginning his review with:
Being raised Anglophone in a world that tends to use English as its lingua franca (lingua commercia, lingua pedagogica, and of course not forgetting lingua imperia Americanae) can result in complacency. It’ll easily slip a person’s mind that there’s nothing natural or inevitable about this state of affairs. Worse, books that contrive to get themselves written in languages other than English can acquire the air of poor relations—competitors at a sort of cultural paralympics whilst English-language titles thrash it out at the main Olympics event elsewhere.
As you can probably tell from that opening paragraph, with its apologetic tone and its mannered lapsings into that other, now-superceded lingua franca, Latin, I’m edging towards a mea culpa. That I don’t speak German, a state of affairs about which I used to feel blithe indifference, is increasingly, as I grow older, a matter of great shame to me. I ought to be able speak German. I ought to be able to do so in a general sense, as a twenty-first century European; but I ought to be able to do so in a more specialized sense, as somebody interested in the history of science fiction. Because German writers have played a crucial role in the development of that genre. – Continue reading.