Croatia

Tagged: International

Croatian sf in its infancy (especially after the nineties) is not very different from the East European fiction and we can compare it to the Russian school of fiction. In the early days of sf in Croatia, writers dealt with adventurous and utopian themes, but later their focus shifted more to existential and social issues, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Croatian Patriotic war in the nineties; typically they now wrote about the life of the "little man" who is repressed by global trends of capitalism and injustice as a result of abrupt democratization on a state level. Only recently, after twenty-five years of democracy and the "rule of the people", have Croatian novels started to resemble the sf classics and modern works in the genre, mainly from USA, Great Britain, Ireland. As the world became connected into one global network, it became more obvious that Croatian sf was not thematically inferior to the latest hits of the genre. Nevertheless, today's sf in Croatia cannot ignore the context of the time and space in which it was created and from which it was derived.

Putting aside post-war traumas, Serbia and Croatia are beginning to work together in the literature market and the number of authors published in both countries is on the rise.

1. The first sf book published in the Croatian language was a translation of Jules Verne's De la Terre à la Lune ["From the Earth to the Moon"] (1875); it was soon followed by another Verne novel in translation, Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours ["Around the World in Eighty Days"] (1876). Further Verne translations continued to appear.

The first sf work by a Croatian author is considered to be the novel Crveni ocean ["Red Ocean"] (1918-1919) by Marija Jurić Zagorka, which was published in parts. Milan p Sufflay's Na pacifiku godine 2251 ["In the Pacific in the Year 2251"] (1924) also appeared in parts. Mato Hanžeković's Utopia, Gospodin čovjek ["A Man of Rank"] (1932) appeared in the wame year as Mladen Horvat's Muri Massanga (1932), which was again published in parts. In the 1930s an author known only by the pseudonym Aldion Degal published Atomska raketa ["Atomic Rocket"], Zrake smrti ["Death Rays"] and Smaragdni skarabej ["Emerald Scarab"]. A few more works, which can be considered as sf, were published before the beginning of World War Two, the most prominent being Majstor Omega osvaja Svijet ["Master Omega Conquers the World"] by Zvonimir Furtinger and Stanko Radovanović (1938).

After World War Two, Furtinger, this time collaborating with Mladen Bjažić, published: Osvajač dva se ne javlja ["Conqueror Two is Not Responding"] (1959), Zagonetni stroj profesora Kružića ["Professor Kružić's Mystery Machine"] (1960) and Svemirska nevjesta ["Space Bride"] (1960). Along with these novels, various sf novels by domestic and foreign authors were published by Epoha Zora from 1957 to 1962, along with the cult Anthology Od Lukijana do Lunjika: povijesni pregled i antologija naučno-fantastičke literature ["From Lucian to the Lunik"] (anth 1965) edited by Darko Suvin.

There was an expansion of original science fiction works in the mid 1970s in Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was an integral part. Works include Brodolom kod Thule ["Shipwreck near Thula"] (1979) by Predrag Raos and Ur (1982) by Hrvoje Hitrec; Kentaur, a publisher from Belgrade, published various translations of science fiction works by world's well-known authors, but also titles by Croatian authors, such as Branko Belan's Utov Dnevnik ["Ut's Diary"] (1982), Damir Mikuličić's O (1982). Predrag Raos's Mnogo vike nizašto ["Much Shouting about Nothing"] (1985) and Null effort (1990).

The magazine Sirius was founded in 1976, edited by Boris Jurković, Hrvoje Prčić and Milivoj Pašiček, and published by Vjesnik in Zagreb. The journal was of exceptional importance for sf in Croatia – it introduced Croatian readers to some of the best foreign sf works, but also published various critically acclaimed works by domestic authors. Sirius was declared the best European sf magazine in 1980 and 1984. The last issue appeared late 1989.

Croatian Cinema included Izbavitelj ["The Rat Saviour"] (1976) directed by Krsto Papić (1976), which was given an award at a film festival in Trieste, Italy; and Posjetioci iz galaksije Arkana ["Visitors from Arkana Galaxy"] (1980) directed by Dušan Vukotić. Croatian Comics authors also published sf themed works. From the legendary Andrija Maurović to authors from the group "Novi kvadrat", science fiction played a significant role in Croatian comic books.

Organized Fandom in Croatia began in 1976 when the Astronautical and rocket club Zagreb established the Section for sf, which became known as "Sfera" in 1977 – the oldest and most significant sf fandom group still active in Croatia. After a few years, other clubs were founded in cities across Croatia. "Sfera" is also the organizer of the biggest sf Convention in Croatia, SFeraKon, and publisher of the oldest Fanzine Parsek (1977). European Science Fiction Convention (or Eurocon) was held in Zagreb in 1986.

2. After Croatia's independence, in 1990, sf literature stagnated briefly, but in 1992 Futura magazine was founded, edited by Vlatko Jurić-Kokić, Krsto A. Mažuranić, Mihaela Velina, Davorin Horak and Milena Benini, and carried on the tradition established by Sirius. Futura ceased in 2007, after 126 issues.

The first sf novel that came in the years of independence was Junak udaljene zvijezde ["The Hero from Distant Star"] (1993) by Franjo Jularić-Julari. The science fiction scene became more active as the first annual story collection series began with Sferakonska (anth 1995) edited by Darko Macan, Davorin Horak, Tatjana Jambrišak, etc, and is still being published. Sferakonska is reserved for short stories by Croatian authors only. Its authors include Tatjana Jambrišak, Denis Peričić, Zoran Vlaović, Viktorija Faust, Danilo Brozović, and others.

Novels published during the 1990s include: Nul effort (1990) by Predrag Raos, Mayerling (1997) by Predrag Raos, and U anđeoskom liku zvijeri ["Beast Like Angel"] (1997) by Viktorija Faust. RIKON, a science fiction convention which is still held in the city of Rijeka, was established in 1997 along with its prize "Artefakt", given for best accomplishments in science fiction in various categories.

The early 2000s a very fruitful period for Croatian science fiction fandom: Istrakon, an sf convention held in Istria, inspired the magazine Istrakonska zbirka ["Istrakon Collection"] beginning in 2002, edited by Davor Šišović; it continued the tradition of restricting its focus to Croatian authors, including Zoran Krušvar, Veronika Santo, Mario Rosanda, and others. Novels published at the beginning of the twenty-first century include Duh novog svijeta ["New World Spirit"] (xxxx) by Tatjana Jambrišak, Teksas Kid (i još neka moja braća) ["Texas Kid (And Some of My Other Brothers)"] (xxxx) and Koža boje masline ["Skin Like Olives"] (2000) by Darko Macan, Slijepe ptice ["Blind Birds"] (2003) by Aleksandar Žiljak. This encouraged the publishing of a number of significant novels in a short period of time: Sablja ["Saber"] (2003) by Ivan Gavran, Ja i Kalisto ["Me and Kalisto"] (2002) by Dejan Šorak (2002), Tamara (2000) by Živko Prodanović (2000), Smrt u rimskim ruševinama ["Death in the Roman Ruins"] (2003) by Živko Prodanović . The first genre fantasy novel in Croatia was Blago Bogova ["Treasure of Gods"] (2001) by Vanja Spirin.

Two significant trilogies were also published in the same period: Ivo Brešan's Astaroth (2001), Država Božja 2053 ["God's State 2053"] (2003) and Vražja utroba ["Devil's Guts"] (2004); and Oliver Franić's Araton 1 (2004), Araton 2 (2004) and Araton 3 (2004).

Subsequent years saw a steady flow of new work Najbolji na svijetu ["World's Finest"] (2004) by Zoran Krušvar and Frulaš ["Piper"] (2004) by Zoran Vlahović; Jednorog i djevica ["The Unicorn and the Virgin"] (2005) by Milena Benini, Zvjezdani riffovi ["Stellar Riffs"] (2005) by Krešimir Mišak, and Sva krv čovječanstva ["All the Blood of Mankind"] (2005) by Dalibor Perković; Zoran Vlahović's Strijelac ["The Shooter"] (coll 2006) and Strijelac 2 ["The Shooter 2"] (coll 2007); Geto (2006) by Veselin Gatalo; Café Oxygen (2007) by Veselin Gatalo, Izvršitelji nauma gospodnjeg ["Executors of God's Intent"] (2007) by Zoran Krušvar, Let Nancija Konratata ["Flight of Nancija Konratata"] (2007) by Predrag Raos, Bojno polje Istra ["Battlefield Istra"] (2007) by Danilo Brozović.

Two Anthologies of stories translated into English commemorated this material: The Anthology of Croatian SF Stories (anth 2005) edited by Žarko Milenić and Ad Astra – Anthology of Croatian SF S tories (anth 2006) edited by Tomislav Šakić and Aleksandar Žiljak.

In August 2006 the annual Festival Fantastične Književnosti ["Speculative Fiction Literature Festival"] (FFK) in Pazin was begun; it is responsible for an annual collection, Zbirka FKK edited Davor Šišović, consisting of works by authors from the entire ex-Yugoslavia region. The LIBURNIKON convention was also established in 2006.

2007 was significant for the establishment of the most prestigious sf magazine in Croatia, the UBIQ, founded by Boris Švel, Aleksandar Žiljak and Tomislav Šakić, which publishes regional prose and poetry, but also genre related essays and critiques. Significant essays were contributed by Zoran Kravar, Darko Suvin, Boris Švel and Tomislav Šakić. The magazine continues.

The flow of book publications continued, including Darko Macan's 42 (pročitaj i daj dalje) ["42 (Pass It Around)"] (2009), Irena Rašeta's Cabrón (2009), Damir Hoyka's Xavia (2009), Viktoria Faust's Solarne mačke ["Solar Cats"] (2009), Marko Mihalinec and Velimir Grgić's Kriza ["Crisis"] (2010), Aleksandar Žiljak's Božja Vučica ["The Divine She-Wolf"] (2010), Danijel Bogdanović;s Najveća igra u svemiru i šire ["The Biggest Game in the Universe and Beyond"] (2010). In the latter as well appeared the only post-independence sf movie from Croatia: The Show Must Go On (2010) written and directed by Nevio Marasović.

In 2011 appeared the first issue of Sirius B edited by Davorin Horak, which aims to continue the tradition of Sirius and Futura, publishing the most significant works from foreign authors and awarded stories, but also works from domestic authors. Twenty issues had appeared 2015. Davorin Horak also edits and publishes the Titan almanac (2 issues so far) and the Nebula almanac (one issue so far), which also contain the most significant foreign prose and works by domestic authors.

3. The start of a new decade has brought new life to the Croatian science fiction scene, and although it is a small market, some new authors have made their debut, including Luka Bekavac with Drenje (2011) and Franjo Janeš with Formula za kaos ["Chaos Formula"] (2011). In 2012 Eurocon was held in Zagreb, and the first international sf convention Marsonikon in Slavonski Brod, which also published an assembly of short stories Marsonic (anth 2012) edited by Leon Maglić, with contributions by authors from across the ex-Yugoslavia region. Seven volumes of this continuing anthology series had been published by the year 2015.

Recent sf books include Aleksandar Žiljak's Irbis ["Irbis"] (2012), Saša Šebelić's Likantropija ["Lycanthropy"] (2012), Ivan Lutz's, Zovite ju Zemlja ["Call It Earth"] (2013), Milena Benini's Svećenica mjeseca ["Priestess of the Moon"] (2014), Aleksandar Žiljak's Poseidonia (2014.), Ivan Lutz and Gordan Sundać's Drum ["The Forest Road"] (2014), Darko Macan's Koridor ["Corridor"] (2014), Veronika Santo's Bijeli vlak na nebu moga grada ["White Train above My City"] (2014) and Vanja Spirin's Smrtonosna Mizija i druge priče ["The Deadly Mizion and Other Stories"] (coll 2014)

The sf scene in Croatia is rapidly growing, with new names appearing regularly. Some authors have begun to see their work translated into English. New anthologies and awards mark the health of the field, giving hope that sf will continue to evolve in the region, and that young authors, who are already making their mark here, will finally be recognized worldwide. [IL/LM]

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.