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New ISF Article – Science Fiction in Croatia by Aleksandar Žiljak

In Article on May 14, 2012 at 9:15 am

The ISF is proud to present an overview of Science Fiction in Croatia, written by Science Fiction and Fantasy writer and illustrator from Zagreb, Aleksandar Žiljak .

The Editor in Chief:

Roberto Mendes

Science Fiction in Croatia

Aleksandar Žiljak

Translated into English by the Author.

1. The Beginnings

Although the elements of fantastic and speculative (as far as science in the modern sense is concerned) in the Croatian literature can be traced back to the years immediately before and after World War I (for instance, the novel Crveni ocean (The Red Ocean, 1918/1919) by Marija Jurić – Zagorka and the story “Red Tank” by Vladimir Nazor), it is generally agreed today that the first true Croatian SF novel was Na Pacifiku 2255. (On the Pacific in 2255) byMilan Šufflay, first serialised in 1924 and re-issued in a book-form in 1998.

In 1932, Mato Hanžeković published Gospodin čovjek (A Man of Rank), a utopia about a group of people rebuilding the civilisation destroyed in a new world war. Even more novels and stories appeared inZagreb during the 1920s and 1930s, mostly by authors using pen-names, initials, or altogether omitting to sign themselves.

Claimed by some authorities to be the best are Muri Massanga (1927) by Mladen Horvat, and a series of novels by Aldion Degal (a pseudonym of Josip Smolčić): Atomska raketa (The Atomic Rocket), Zrake smrti (The Death Rays) and Smaragdni skarabej (The Emerald Scarab), all dating from early 1930s.

Also worthy of mention is the novel Majstor Omega osvaja svijet (The Omega Master Conquers the World) by Stan Rager, serialised in 1940. Stan Rager was a pseudonym used by Stanko Radovanović and Zvonimir Furtinger (whom we’ll encounter later) writing in tandem. Very little is known of these texts today, most of them being serialised in newspapers and magazines. They are seldom available and they need to be more thoroughly studied and critically evaluated. The same goes for some proto-SF works dating as far back as the Renaissance.

Better appreciated are the early Croatian SF comics from the 1930s. The first-ever was Gost iz svemira (The Guest from Outer Space) by Božidar Rašić and Leontije Bjelski, published in 1935 in Zagreb, and followed by Krešimir Kovačić’s and Andrija Maurović’s Ljubavnica s Marsa (The Mistress from Mars) and Podzemna carica (The Underground Empress).

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