Yugoslavia

Tagged: International

This entry, written for the second edition of the encyclopedia, awaits updating and linking to new entries covering the development of sf in the various post-1992 successor states.

Yugoslavia was established as a nation in 1918, but the first sf works in two of its three linguistic areas – the Serbocroat and the Slovenian – long predated that. The first sf book to appear in Serbocroat was the translation in 1873 of Jules Verne's Voyage au centre de la terre (1864), while the first sf work by a native author was the drama "Posle milijon godina" ["A Million Years After"] (1889 in the magazine Kolo) by Dragutin Ilić. This is one of the earliest fully sf plays published anywhere in the world (> Theatre). In 1902 Lazar Komarčić published a work of extreme modernity for its time and place: the most exciting passages of Olaf Stapledon are anticipated in his Jedna ugašena zvezda ["One Extinguished Star"] (1902).

In the period up to the beginning of World War Two, the most important sf novels were Kroz vasionu i vekove ["Through the Universe and Centuries"] (1928) by Milutin Milanković, Gospodin čovjek ["Man, the Noble"] (1932) by Mate Hanžeković, and Život u vasioni ["Life in the Universe"] (1933) by Stojan Radonić. In the 1930s a number of sf novels were published in instalments in periodicals; these novels were, generally, imitations of popular sf classics, signed mostly by pseudonyms. Of these, three by "Aldion Degal" are the most noteworthy: "Atomska raketa" ["An Atomic Rocket"] (1930), "Zrake smrti" ["Death Rays"] (1932) and "Smaragdni skarabej" ["The Emerald Scarab"] (1934). In 1935 the first Yugoslav Comic strip was published: Gost iz svemira ["The Guest from Outer Space"], by Božidar Rašić and Leontije Bjelski.

In the 1950s the first specialized sf publishing imprints appeared – Biblioteka fantastičnih romana, Fantastični romani and Lajka – but this was an era dominated by translations of Russian sf novels in the mode of "socialist realism" (> Russia). Yugoslav sf authors published during this period were writing mostly for a juvenile readership. The first of importance in the post-World War Two period were Zvonimir Furtinger and Mladen Bjažić, who set the tone of the first half of the 1960s with novels like Osvajač 2 se ne javlja ["Conqueror II Fails to Report"] (1959) and Svemirska nevjesta ["The Space Bride"] (1960). In that decade new sf book imprints began to publish translations of contemporary US and UK sf authors. The most important is Kentaur, with nearly 100 translations of major sf books published since 1967. By the end of the 1960s the first Yugoslav sf magazine, Kosmoplov ["Spaceship"], had appeared; it ran for 24 issues 1969-1970. The founder of this magazine, Gavrilo Vučković, in 1972 also founded Galaksija ["Galaxy"] magazine, which had an sf section almost continually during the next 18 years.

In 1976 the important sf magazine Sirius started; mainly as a monthly and edited most often by Borivoje Jurković, it achieved 164 issues (it ended in January 1990), regularly publishing Yugoslav sf in addition to translations. Yugoslav sf had its moment of international triumph, too, in the 1970s: the film Izbavitelj ["Saviour"] (1977; vt The Rat Saviour), directed by Krsto Papić, won the main, Golden Asteroid, award at the Trieste Film Festival that year. A second Yugoslav film later received an award at this festival: Posjetioci iz galaksije Arkana ["Visitors from the Arcana Galaxy"] (1980) directed by the Oscar-winning Dušan Vukotić.

The 1980s were years decisively marked by the arrival of private as opposed to state-owned publishing houses and by the emergence of many young sf authors. In 1982 Zoran Živković and Žika Bogdanović started a privately published sf imprint, Polaris, which specialized in rapidly taking up new sf hits; among the books whose world first editions have been under this imprint is 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) by Arthur C Clarke. Another private series, Znak Sagite ["The Sign of the Sagitta"], founded 1985 by Boban Knežević, also brought out some important sf books.

Though there are as yet only part-time sf writers in Yugoslavia, several of the authors who made their debut in the 1980s have the potential to become full-time. These include Damir Mikuličić, author of O ["O"] (coll 1982); Predrag Raos, author of Brodolom kod Thule ["Shipwreck at Thule"] (1978), Mnogo vike nizašto ["Much Shouting about Nothing"] (1985) and Null Effort (1990); Slobodan Ćurčić, author of Šume, kiše, grad i zvezde ["Forests, Rains, the City and the Stars"] (1988); Dragan Filipović, author of Oreska ["Oreska"] (1987) and Zlatna knjiga ["The Golden Book"] (1988). Recently some widely acclaimed mainstream writers have entered the sf field. Borislav Pekić, for example, has published three sf novels: Besnilo ["Rabid"] (1983), 1999 (1984) and Atlantida ["Atlantis"] (1988).

Young Yugoslav sf comic-strip artists, most prominently Željko Pahek, Igor Kordej and Zoran Janjetov, are published not only at home but also in other European countries. Successful Genre-SF artists such as Bob Živković also appear. Sf has also entered academic circles; after initial pioneering studies in the sf genre by Ivan Foht and Darko Suvin, three men have since the 1970s successfully defended MA and doctoral dissertations about sf: Ferid Muhić, Zoran Živković and Aleksandar B Nedeljković. After the mid-1970s, Fandom began to flourish, and a number of local and international Conventions were organized. There are many clubs and societies. [ZŽ]

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