Before heading out with my family to the protest of the Muslim Ban happening in our city today, I want to give you this. Stories are also a form of resistance. This can be especially true of science fiction and fantasy, where we speculate about other possible futures and other possible pasts. A few people asked me for this, so I made it for you: a one-page flyer Islam in SciFi Starter Kit. Use it. Share it. Print it. Email it. Included is a reading list of science fiction and fantasy either by Muslim authors or about Muslim characters who are not the media stereotype. There are links to free ebooks. A Mosque Among the Stars is an anthology of stories from 12 authors, permanently free in PDF format. And the first three stories in my Ansible series about 25th-century Muslim interstellar explorers–I’ve made those free until February 8, 2017 on the kindle, in hopes that might help too. They’re yours; explore them.
Many of the world’s great scientists, mathematicians, scholars, doctors, and poets are Muslim. And arguably, the world’s first science fiction may have been Zakariya al-Qazwini’s 13th-century Awaj bin Anfaq, in which an explorer visits the earth from a distant planet. Much of modern astronomy has roots in Islamic cultures, and much contemporary astronomy research is conducted in Muslim-majority nations. With 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet, it is no stretch to think that they may have an enormous role to play in the future of science and technology and in our science fiction. (And, though I didn’t include it on the flyer because it is the one story everyone knows, Frank Herbert’s Dune, one of the monuments of twentieth-century American science fiction, imagined descendants of one Muslim culture playing a very large role in an interplanetary future.)
If you want to go deeper than what a one-page flyer and list and “starter kit” can provide, check out the Islam in Science Fiction website, which includes book lists and reviews, essays and interviews with Islamic artists and writers and with non-Muslim scifi writers who write stories with Muslim characters.
One of my friends who asked for this said that such a reading list was instrumental when they were first discovering that almost everything they knew about Islam was categorically false. I hope you find these stories open a door for you, too. It’s a big world and a big universe out there, and the people we meet in it are seldom who we expect, and seldom who we’ve been taught.