Entry updated 20 November 2023. Tagged: International.
[Coverage of Germany and Austria is in the process of being restructured, with the new entry Germany since 1990 dealing with the post-reunification scene and a separate entry in preparation for . What follows is only slightly revised from the 1993 edition of this encyclopedia.]
This entry covers the whole of Germany, including the former GDR (East Germany). There is a separate entry for Austria, with which there is a small and inevitable overlap: many books by Austrian writers were in fact published in Germany, and many Austrians have lived in Germany – some, indeed, working in the German publishing industry.
The roots of German sf can be traced back to the seventeenth century, when the astronomer Johannes Kepler's Somnium (1634 in Latin; trans into German as Traum von Mond 1898; trans E Rosen as Kepler's "Somnium" 1967) reflected, in semifictional form, on life on the Moon. Considered a masterpiece of its time is the picaresque novel Der abenteuerliche Simplizissimus (1669; trans A T S Goodricke as The Adventurous Simplicissimus 1912; retrans H Weissenborn and L Macdonald 1963) by Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1622-1676), which contains, inter alia, a journey into a Utopia located in the centre of the Hollow Earth.
The eighteenth century saw publication of Wunderliche Fata einiger Seefahrer (4 parts 1731-1743), usually known as Insel Felsenburg ["Felsenburg Island"], by Johann Gottfried Schnabel (1692-1752). This book, very popular at the time, combined elements of the Utopia, the Robinsonade and the episodic adventure novel, and could be regarded as the earliest German forerunner of adventure sf. Further novels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century are Dreyerley Wirkungen: Eine Geschichte aus der Planetenwelt ["Triple Effects: A Story from the World of Planets"] (8vols 1789-1792), Die Affenkönige oder Die Reformation des Affenlandes ["The Ape Kings or The Reformation of the Ape Country"] (1788) and Urani: Königin von Sardanopalien im Planeten Sirius ["Urania: Queen of Sardanopolis in the Planet Sirius"] (1790; title given in some catalogues as Leben Uraniens: Königin von Sardanopalien im Planeten Sirius) – all political Satires by Johann Friedrich Ernst Albrecht (1752-1814), who normally wrote "knight-and-robber" novels – and Die schwarzen Brüder ["The Black Brotherhood"] (1791-1795) by Heinrich Zschokke (1771-1848), a sensationalist trilogy about a secret society; its third novel is set in the twenty-fourth century, when humanity is used as a kind of livestock for Aliens. Another early work is Ini: Ein Roman aus dem 21. Jahrhundert ["Ini: A Novel from the Twenty-First Century"] (1810) by Julius von Voss (1768-1832). Important to the development of German sf is the story "Der Sandmann" ["The Sandman"] (comprising volume one of Nachtstücke, 1816) by E T A Hoffmann, the most important author of the Schwarze Romantik ["Black Romantic"] movement in Germany. The story, which has been reprinted innumerable times, tells of Dr Coppelius, who constructs an Automaton in the shape of a human being; it is one of the first Robot stories.
But the real pioneer of German sf was Kurd Laßwitz, a teacher at the Gymnasium Ernestinum in Gotha, who wrote the most important classical German sf novel, Auf zwei Planeten (1897; cut 1948; cut again 1969; trans Hans J Rudnick, much cut, as Two Planets 1971). It is the story of a confrontation of human and Martian cultures, the latter being technically and ethically superior. Laßwitz, who regarded ethical development as dependent on scientific and technological development, included impressive technical predictions: a spoked wheel-shaped Space Station, rolling roadways, synthetic materials, solar cells and much more. Influenced by the German idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), his work was didactic and focused on philosophical conceptions for the future. He published a number of short stories and novellas, several of which have been translated into English, and two further sf novels, less popular, which remain untranslated. These are Aspira (1906) and Sternentau ["Star Dew"] (1909).
Wholly different, but no less remarkable, are the many works of sf by the scurrilous visionary Paul Scheerbart, who in Lesabéndio: Ein Asteroiden-Roman (1913; trans Christina Svendsen as Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel 2012) and the story collection Astrale Noveletten ["Astral Novelettes"] (coll 1912), for example, populated the cosmos with grotesque and tremendously imaginative beings reminiscent of the creations of the later writer Olaf Stapledon. Much of Scheerbart's work has been reissued in Germany. This is not the case with the interesting In Purpurner Finsternis ["In Purple Darkness"] (1895) by M G Conrad (Michael Georg Conrad, 1846-1927), an sf utopia mainly set in a Labyrinth of caves, and critical of Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm.
German Fantastic Voyages and adventures of the Jules Verne type arrived with the novels of Robert Kraft (1869-1916) and F W Mader. Kraft, touted by his publishers as "the German Jules Verne", wrote in addition to countless adventure novels and sea novels the ten-issue dime-novel series Aus dem Reiche der Phantasie ["From the Realms of Imagination"] (1901), whose protagonist's adventures include trips to the Stone Age and the Moon. (It was probably the first Dime-Novel SF series in Germany. This form of publication, Groschenhefte, saddle-stapled booklets very similar to one of the several popular dime-novel formats in the USA, continued very much longer in Germany than it did in the USA – see below.) Typical of Kraft's book publications are Im Panzermobil um die Erde ["Round the World in a Tank"] (1906), Im Aeroplan um die Erde ["Round the World in a Plane"] (1908), Der Herr der Lüfte ["Lord of the Air"] (1909), Die Nihilit-Expedition ["The Nihilit Expedition"] (1909) – a Lost-Race novel – and Die neue Erde ["The New Earth"] (1910), a Post-Holocaust novel. F W Mader wrote juvenile adventure novels, often set in Africa and reminiscent of H Rider Haggard, and sometimes, as in Die Messingstadt ["City of Brass"] (1924), with utopian as well as fantastic elements. His space adventure Wunderwelten (1911; trans Max Shachtman as Distant Worlds: The Story of a Voyage to the Planets 1932) is one of the most important sf novels of the Kaiser's period.
Other German sf writers popular in the first two decades of the twentieth century include: Carl Grunert (1865-1918), author of Der Marsspion und andere Novellen ["The Martian Spy and Other Novelettes"] (coll 1908); Albert Daiber, author of Vom Mars zur Erde ["From Mars to Earth"] (1910); Oskar Hoffmann (1866-1928), whose many works included the dime-novel series MacMilfords Reisen im Universum ["MacMilford's Voyages into the Universe"] (1902-1903); and Robert Heymann, author of Der unsichtbare Mensch vom Jahr 2111 ["The Invisible Man of the Year 2111"] (1909). Finally, there was the classic novel Der Tunnel (1913; trans anon as The Tunnel 1915) by Bernhard Kellermann (rendered Bernard Kellerman in the English translation), about the building of a tunnel between England and the Continent; it was filmed as Der Tunnel (1933).
One of the most successful sf series of the time in the field of dime novels/pulp adventures, and one of the earliest purely sf periodicals anywhere, was Der Luftpirat und sein Lenkbares Luftschiff (1908-1911), totalling 165 adventures.
Between the two World Wars an especially German type of sf came into being, namely the scientific-technical Zukunftsroman (future novel), a term which gave its name to the genre, being only gradually replaced, from the early 1950s onward, by the foreign designation "science fiction", which was eventually naturalized. By far the most popular author of the Zukunftsroman – the spectrum of whose themes was fixed much more strictly than that of US-UK "science fiction" – was unquestionably Hans Dominik (1872-1945), whose nearly 20 books – his first novel was Die Macht der Drei ["The Power of the Three"] (1922) – sold several million copies in total. Dominik's books are clumsy and badly written, but they survive on the frisson given by their technically oriented adventure, and were probably also successful because their distinctly nationalistic overtones – the German engineer being seen as superior to all others in the world – suited the spirit of a Germany in which National Socialism was on the rise. Other representatives of the Zukunftsroman were Rudolf H(einrich) Daumann (1896-1957), St(anislaus) Bialkowski (1897-1959), Karl August von Laffert (1872-1938), Hans Richter (1889-1941) and Walther Kegel (1907-1945). A further popular author in this line was Freder van Holk, a pseudonym of Paul Alfred Müller (1901-1970), who also published as Lok Myler; under these pseudonyms he wrote the successful dime-novel series Sun Koh, der Erbe von Atlantis ["Sun Koh: Heir of Atlantis"] (1933-1936), with 150 issues, and Jan Mayen (1935-1939), with 120 issues. The former deals with an Atlantean in modern London, planning, with supertechnology, to control Atlantis when it reappears. Sf of this type had great influence on the first postwar generation of German sf authors.
Among the more interesting novels of prewar German sf are those of Otto Willi Gail, whose works include Hans Hardts Mondfahrt (1928; trans anon as By Rocket to the Moon: The Story of Hans Hardt's Miraculous Flight 1931). Before writing, he consulted the German rocket pioneer Max Valier and was able to give a technically exact (according to the knowledge of the time) description of a flight to the Moon and of other space plans since realized. Another writer who like Gail had some of his work translated into English and published in Hugo Gernsback's sf magazines was Otfrid von Hanstein. The five novels concerned included Mond-Rak 1: Eine Fahrt inns Weltall (1929; trans Francis Currier as "Between Earth and Moon" 1930 Wonder Stories Quarterly).
But perhaps the sf writer of the period best known abroad was Thea von Harbou, who had collaborated with her husband, film director Fritz Lang, on the screenplays of several sf films including the great classic Metropolis (1926) and also Die Frau im Mond (1929). Von Harbou's turgid novelizations were Metropolis (1926; trans anon 1927) and Frau im Mond (1928; trans Baroness von Hutten as The Girl in the Moon 1930; cut vt The Rocket to the Moon, from the Novel, The Girl in the Moon 1930), the latter being published in Germany before the film was released. An unusual theme is dealt with in Druso: Oder die gestohlene Menschheit ["Druso, or The Stolen Mankind"] (1931; trans Fletcher Pratt as "Druso" 1934 Wonder Stories) by Friedrich Freksa (1882-1955), a novel about superhumans that reaches far into the future, but which is sadly marred by racist and fascist undertones. This is almost opposite, politically, to Utopolis (1930) by Werner Illing (1895-1979), which is a socialist utopia in which workers defeat rebellious capitalists.
Utopolis, however, is at the more literary end of the spectrum. It was one of several impressive sf novels published by non-genre authors between the wars. Among the others were Tuzub 37 (1935) by Paul Gurk (1880-1953), a strange "green" dystopia in which a flayed and totally concreted Nature rises up against the mankind who did this, and Balthasar Tipho (1919) by Hans Flesch (1895-1981), a strong apocalyptic novel. The most celebrated of the writers who occasionally experimented with sf themes was Alfred Döblin, who went into exile in France in 1933 and then the USA in 1941. Two of his books are surreal, metamorphic sf of very considerable power: Wadzeks Kampf mit der Dampfturbine ["Wadzek's Struggle with the Steam-Machine"] (1918) and Berge Meere und Giganten ["Mountains, Seas and Giants"] (1924; rev vt Giganten ["Giants"] 1931). In the latter, somewhat earlier than Olaf Stapledon, with whom he has been compared, Döblin deals with Genetic Engineering as a means of evolving the capacities of a future race of humans. His work was a potent influence on Cordwainer Smith's sf. All of these works, however, stand somewhat outside what most readers would regard as sf proper.
There were further stories of the future from more "literary" German writers after World War Two, though the one best known in the English-speaking world was in fact by an Austrian, Franz Werfel: Stern der Ungeborenen (1946 Austria; trans Gustave O Arlt as Star of the Unborn 1946). Others were Die Stadt hinter dem Strom (1947; trans P de Mendelssohn as The City Beyond the River 1953) by Hermann Kasack (1896-1966), a political satire with futuristic sequences, which was made into an opera; Heliopolis (1949) by Ernst Jünger; and Nein: Die Welt der Angeklagten ["No: The World of the Accused"] (1950) by Walter Jens (1923-2013), set in a totalitarian Dystopia reminiscent of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1939). In a much less solemn vein is Die Gelehrtenrepublik (1957; trans Michael Horovitz as The Egghead Republic: A Short Novel from the Horse Latitudes 1979) by Arno Schmidt, with its Mutants and its language games. Several German writers, much affected by the horrors of World War Two and especially the shock of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, wrote Post-Holocaust novels; these included Wir fanden Menschen ["We Found Men"] (1948) by Hans Wörner (1904-1963), Blumen wachsen im Himmel ["Flowers Grow in the Heavens"] (1948) by Hellmuth Lange (1903-? ) [possibly, but not securely identified as, the actor/writer Hellmuth Lange (1923-2011)], Helium (1949) by Ernst von Khuon (1915-1997) and Die Kinder des Saturn ["The Children of Saturn"] (1959) by Jens Rehn, whose real name was Otto Jens Luther (1918-1983).
The world of Genre SF began changing after World War Two. The first US sf in translation was issued from 1951 onwards by the publishers Gebrüder Weiss in their hardcover line, Die Welt von Morgen, whose first publications, from 1949 on, had been reprints of Hans Dominik; later on, and importantly, they published the juveniles of Robert A Heinlein and Arthur C Clarke. The first adult Hard SF bound in hard covers was in the short-lived Rauchs Weltraum-Bücher series, all 1953, from Karl Rauch publishers, edited by Gotthard Günther (1900-1984), one being an anthology edited by Günther, Überwindung von Raum und Zeit ["Conquest of Space and Time"] (anth 1953), and the other three being books by John W Campbell Jr, Jack Williamson and Isaac Asimov. Each had a long, critical afterword by Günther. This line made the term "science fiction" known to German readers for the first time, and is now legendary to fans and collectors. In terms of copies sold at the time, it was a flop.
The division of Germany into East and West after World War Two also influenced the development of genre sf. While in the GDR literature generally, and therefore sf, had to serve socialism, in the FRG sf publishing at first saw itself in terms of the traditional Zukunftsroman. Thus reprints were issued of Dominik's work and of dime-novel series by Freder van Holk/Lok Myler.
A specialized form of publishing turned out to be significant for sf: cheaply produced hardbacks with millboard covers, issued in small print runs for commercial circulating libraries. Before the circulating libraries fell victim in the late 1950s and early 1960s to the altered leisure-time behaviour of the readership, more than 500 sf novels were published in this format. Even though most of them were trash, they nevertheless prepared the way for a growing generation of native German authors, as well as publishing translations into German for the first time of books by E E "Doc" Smith, A E van Vogt, Philip K Dick, Clifford D Simak and others.
The second and more important pathway into postwar German sf writing was provided by the publishers of pulp adventures. The long and continuous German tradition of publishing dime-novel booklets only faded away in the 1990s. Some reprints of prewar sf of this kind have already been mentioned, but it was above all the three publishers Pabel, Lehning and Moewig who dominated in this field. In 1953 Pabel started the pulp line Utopia-Zukunftsromane, later supplemented by Utopia-Grossband, Utopia-Kriminal and the first German sf magazine, Utopia-Magazin. In 1956 Lehning followed up with reprints of circulating-library titles in its pulp line Luna-Utopia-Roman, and in 1957 Moewig joined the scene with Terra, followed by Terra-Sonderband and Galaxis, a German edition of Galaxy Science Fiction. It was Pabel which succeeded in popularizing the term "science fiction" in Germany. At the beginning of the Utopia-Zukunftsromane line the stories consisted of serial adventures in the Jim Parker series, but later they shifted to novels independent of series, and from 1955 on also translations (mostly short novels) of Murray Leinster, Eric Frank Russell and many others. Quite a number of the best and most popular US sf novels and novellas appeared amid all this material published by Pabel and the other companies, but most were translated rather badly and, as the format was limited to a fixed number of pages, often drastically cut, a practice that continued in German sf translations for a long time, since early paperbacks, too, had a rigidly restricted page count.
It was Walter Ernsting (1920-2005), first at Pabel and later at Moewig, who could be regarded as the engine that propelled the growing sf industry. He wrote sf adventures under the pseudonym Clark Darlton; along with K H Scheer he soon became the most popular author of German adventure sf, and as an editor he was responsible for altering publishers' policies (in part towards the publication of more of the UK-US type of sf), editing both Utopia-Magazin and the pulp publishing lines (the immediate predecessors of paperback publishing as understood in the English-speaking world) Utopia-Grossband and Terra-Sonderband, the latter continuing as the paperback line Terra-Taschenbuch. Ernsting is, of course, most famous for founding Perry Rhodan with Scheer in 1961. It is the most popular pulp-adventure sf series in the History of SF; to 1991 more than 1600 short novels had been published in it, not to mention numerous reprints, paperbacks, hardcovers and the spin-off Atlan series, which itself has published a massive number of titles. The Perry Rhodan print-run – it is published weekly – is around 200,000 copies for the first edition. The series was and still is written by a team (see Perry Rhodan for further details).
Another important editor was Günther M Schelwokat (1929-1992), who edited much of the sf production of Moewig and (after they had both come under the same ownership) Pabel. Because of the power he had in selecting new authors for the various lines and series, he has been called the John W Campbell of the German pulps.
Further pulp series include Mark Powers, Ad Astra, Ren Dhark, Rex Corda, Raumschiff Promet, Die Terranauten and Zeitkugel, all coming and going in the past few decades, most of them trying (and failing) to repeat the success of Perry Rhodan with similar concepts. However, on a smaller scale, the Orion series is still thriving, originally in the pulp format but now in paperback reprints; its novelizations and ongoing novels, about 145 of them, many by Hans Kneifel (1936-2012), are based on the successful German television Space Opera series Raumpatrouille: Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion ["Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Space Ship Orion"], which began, like Star Trek, in 1966, and which, also like Star Trek, slowly built up a considerable fan following.
Until the 1960s, paperbacks were the exception rather than the rule in German publishing, being brought out only by smaller publishers. Genre sf mainly remained a feature of the pulp scene and seemed to be unsaleable outside that milieu. This changed when, in 1960, the publishing house Goldmann began a hardcover sf line (with the Austrian-born Herbert W Franke as consulting editor) and then, from 1962, a paperback line that continues today. In 1960, too, the publisher Heyne began, at first sporadically but then vigorously, to publish sf. Heyne developed into one of the bestselling publishers of paperbacks generally, not just in sf; but sf remained a central part of its publishing programme and with Wolfgang Jeschke as editor, it became undisputed leader of the sf market, publishing over 100 paperbacks a year, mostly translations. Just as Ernsting and Schelwokat forced the pace of sf pulp-adventure publishing in Germany, so Jeschke was the person most responsible for sf's development as a paperback literature in Germany. With his line of sf paperbacks, including sub-lines like Classics and Bibliothek der Science Fiction, and his ability to select the best work, Jeschke fulfilled his intention of presenting the whole spectrum of sf from all over the world. Another notable paperback line was Fischer Orbit (1972-1974), based on Damon Knight's Orbit anthologies and extended to include novels and collections, mainly of US origin, but including the first collection of new and classic German sf stories, Science Fiction aus Deutschland ["Science Fiction from Germany"] (anth 1974), edited by H J Alpers and Ronald M Hahn (1948- ).
In the late 1960s and the 1970s, publishers like Marion von Schröder, Lichtenberg, Insel and Hohenheim began hardcover or quality paperback sf lines, but all were finally cancelled, including Hohenheim's project to publish a 15-volume hardcover series, edited by H J Alpers and Werner Fuchs (1949- ), to chronicle sf history with the best stories of the best authors; only six volumes appeared. Indeed, after the boom that lasted from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, during which Bastei-Lübbe, Knaur, Moewig, Pabel and Ullstein all began new paperback lines or extended existing ones, there was a severe contraction: only Heyne, Goldmann and Bastei-Lüöbbe remained competitive.
Unlike the English-language countries, Germany has no magazine-based tradition of short-story publication. There had been a magazine of the fantastic, Der Orchideengarten ["The Garden of Orchids"] (1919-1921), but it was only in the 1950s, with Utopia-Magazin (1955-1959; 26 issues) and Galaxis (1958-1959; 15 issues), that the first sf magazines were published. Later attempts to establish magazines, mostly from smaller publishers, failed. Perry Rhodan did not successfully make the transition from pulp weekly booklet to magazine in Perry Rhodan Magazin. Other publications in magazine format were Comet, 2001, Star SF and a German edition of Omni, but all finally failed. However, forums for short stories do remain, mainly occasional anthologies from Heyne, edited by Wolfgang Jeschke. Earlier there had been the Kopernikus series, a kind of magazine in paperback (1980-1988; 15 vols) edited by H J Alpers from Moewig; the Polaris series from Insel/Suhrkamp (1973-1985; 8 vols) edited by Franz Rottensteiner; and a series of paperbacks (1980-1984) from Goldmann, edited by Thomas LeBlanc (1951- ).
Let us turn from publishing to writing, and look at the major German sf authors since World War Two. We can start in the 1950s in the field of pulp adventure with the work of Walter Ernsting (writing as Clark Darlton) and K H Scheer. The former reached Erich von Däniken territory before von Däniken did with his tales of past extraterrestrial visits to Earth, and was best known for his Time-Travel stories. Scheer specialized in military-technological space opera. In the 1960s Herbert W Franke came to prominence as the first German-language sf writer to tackle really ambitious themes. Later, in the 1960s and 1970s, he was joined (at first just in the field of short stories) by Jeschke. Also of interest is Otto Basil, who like Franke was an Austrian, with his Alternate-History novel Wenn das der Führer wüste (1966; cut trans Thomas Weyr as The Twilight Man 1968). This story of Nazi Germany's victory in World War Two, followed by a postwar decay of the Third Reich after Hitler's death as his heirs struggle for power, can be compared to The Man in the High Castle (1962) by Philip K Dick.
In the 1970s Carl Amery (pseudonym of Christian Anton Mayer, 1922-2005), a leading German Mainstream Writer, turned his attention to sf themes, inspired by Walter M Miller Jr's A Canticle for Leibowitz (April 1955-February 1957 F&SF; fixup dated 1960 but 1959). With three excellent books, original in both their idiom (Bavarian) and their concepts, he played variations on the themes of time travel, the fall of Western culture, and alternate worlds; these were Das Königsprojekt ["The King Project"] (1974), the short novel Der Untergang der Stadt Passau ["The Fall of the City of Passau"] (1975), and An den Feuern der Leyermark ["At the Fires of the Leyermark"] (1979), Leyermark being an old name for Bavaria. Franke wrote further remarkable novels, notably Zone Null (1970; trans 1974) and Ypsilon Minus (1976).
In the 1980s Wolfgang Jeschke raised his profile, proving himself an excellent novelist with Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung (1981; trans Gertrud Mander as The Last Day of Creation 1981) and Midas (1989; trans 1990). Thomas R P Mielke (1940- ), up to then an almost unnoticed pulp writer, surprised everybody with the thematically bizarre novel Das Sakriversum ["The Vestryverse"] (1983), in which he described how two mutated tribes, who for centuries have kept themselves hidden in the roof-vault of a cathedral, survive a war waged with neutron bombs. With Die Parzelle ["The Piece of Land"] (1984) Werner Zillig (1949- ) wrote a remarkable novel about countercultures which realize their Utopian and radical ideas in protected areas. Die Enkel der Raketenbauer ["Grandchildren of the Rocket-Builders"] (1980) by Georg Zauner (1920-1997) is a cutting, ironic novel about a post-nuclear Bavaria. A notable dystopian novel is Erwins Badezimmer oder Die Gefährlichkeit der Sprache ["Erwin's Bathroom, or The Perilousness of Language"] (1984) by Hans Bemmann (1922-2003); and Richard Hey (1926-2004) published in Im Jahr 95 nach Hiroshima ["In the Year 95 after Hiroshima"] (1982) an outstanding post-holocaust novel dealing with a new ice age and the vanishing of European culture. Other authors worth notice include Michael Ende (though more in the vein of fantasy), Rainer Erler (1933- ), mainly a television screenwriter and director, Reinmar Cunis (1933-1989) and Michael Weisser (1948- ). Known primarily for short stories are Thomas Ziegler (the pen-name of Rainer Zubeil [1956- ]), Karl Michael Armer (1950- ), Horst Pukallus (1949- ), Gerd Maximović (1944- ), Peter Schattschneider (1950- ) (see Austria) and Ronald M Hahn, the latter mostly with Satires.
In the postwar GDR, sf was expected to serve socialism and to be subordinate to the concepts of party functionaries, and was anyway for a long time regarded with suspicion. The first East German sf novel was Die goldene Kugel ["The Golden Ball"] (1949) by Ludwig Turek (1898-1975). During the whole of the 1950s in the GDR only 11 sf books, plus 50 or so short stories scattered here and there, were published. In the 1950s and 1960s authors like Eberhardt del'Antonio (1926-1997), the Brazilian-born Carlos Rasch (1932-2021), Günther Krupkat (1905-1990) and Karl-Heinz Tuschel (1928-2005), and in the 1970s and 1980s Klaus Frühauf (1933-2005), Rainer Fuhrmann (1940-1990), Peter Lorenz (1944-2009), Michael Szameit (1950- ) and others wrote an upright, arid, often didactic sf that was miles away, thematically and in literary quality, from all international standards. But from the 1970s onward the GDR also began to produce weightier voices, with Heiner Rank (1931- ), Gerhard Branstner (1927-2008), Gert Prokop (1932-1994), Erik Simon (1950- ) and several collaborative teams: Alfred Leman (1925- ) and Hans Taubert (1928-2008); Johanna (1929-2008) and Günter Braun (1928-2008); and Karlheinz (1950- ) and Angela (1941- ) Steinmuller. Die Ohnmacht der Allmachtigen ["The Impotence of the Omnipotent Ones"] (1973) by Heiner Rank, Der Irrtum des Grossen Zauberers ["The Error of the Great Sorcerer"] (1972) and Unheimliche Erscheinungsformen auf Omega XI ["Strangely Shaped Apparitions on Omega XI"] (1974), both by Johanna and Günter Braun, and Andymon (1982) and Pulaster (1986), both by Karlheinz and Angela Steinmuller, are examples of sf books that are full of ideas and well written, and need not fear international comparison.
In the GDR, translated sf was very largely from Russia and other socialist countries; Western sf was seldom published and Western adult fantasy never. There were few East German sf paperbacks; most books were hardcovers from Das Neue Berlin and Neues Leben, as well as pulp booklets from the Das neue Abenteuer and kap lines. Only in recent years has the term "science fiction" been used, and it appeared on only one line of books, a short-running paperback series. Ekkehard Redlin (1919-2007), as editor of Das Neue Berlin, was an important influence on East German sf, and later both Olaf R Spittel (1953- ) and especially Erik Simon had a huge influence on the scene. With Die Science-fiction der DDR: Autoren und Werke: Ein Lexicon ["Sf in the GDR: Authors and Works: A Dictionary"] (1988), these two wrote what is effectively a small encyclopedia of East German sf (a shorter version had appeared earlier, in 1982). Simon, who also edits for Das Neue Berlin, has edited an annual, with stories and critical essays, entitled Lichtjahr ["Lightyear"] (5 vols 1980-1986).
Sf publishing in the united Germany of today has few book lines, is dominated by Heyne, and is in general the domain of US-UK authors. Outside the Perry Rhodan pulps, no German sf author is able to earn his or her living from sf alone; the one marginal exception is Wolfgang E Hohlbein (1953- ), a bestselling author of, primarily, fantasy. In recent years some Small Presses have published sf, either in limited editions or in attempts to break into the upmarket area of hardcovers and quality paperbacks. Among them are Corian, Fantasy Productions, Fabylon, Laurin and Edition Phantasia. Besides the book market, sf writers can look to a small market for high-quality radio plays, which has been supported over the years by radio editors and directors like Horst Krautkrämer, Andreas Weber-Schäfer and, above all, Dieter Hasselblatt (1926-1997).
There has been quite a lot of critical and scholarly literature about sf in Germany. The Semiprozine Science Fiction Times, which began in 1958 as a straight translation of the US Science Fiction Times, itself a variant title of Fantasy Times, began to publish original German material in the early 1960s. It is now the longest-lasting critical journal in Germany; also important in this respect is Franz Rottensteiner's Quarber Merkur. There have been several academic studies of sf, sometimes written from a sociological or political viewpoint. Begun in 1985, Phantastichen Literatur, edited by Joachim Körber, is a continuously updated bibliographical resource for both sf and fantasy from Corian. Standard references include Lexicon der Science Fiction Literatur (1980; rev 1988; new edition projected for 1992) and Reclams Science Fiction Führer (1982), the former from Heyne, the latter from Reclam, both edited by Hans Joachim Alpers, Werner Fuchs and Ronald M Hahn, with Wolfgang Jeschke as a further editor of the Heyne books.
Sf Cinema had a good start in Germany in the silent period with the Airship-race film The Sky Monster (1913), the serial Homunculus (1916), Algol. Tragödie der Macht (1920) (see Algol – Tragedy of Power), Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse, der Spieler (1922) and Metropolis (1926), and Robert Wiene's Orlacs Hände (1925). Indeed, the German film industry continued strongly into the early 1930s, with sf and fantastic themes quite popular. Other sf films of this period are Alraune (1928), Die Frau im Mond (1929), F.P.1 Antwortet Nicht (1932), Die Herrin von Atlantis (1932; vt Lost Atlantis), Der Tunnel (1933), and Gold (1934). German sf cinema in the postwar period has been, on the whole, disappointing, and the films deserving of entries are comparatively few: Die Tausend Augen des Dr Mabuse (1960), Der Grosse Verhau (1970; vt The Big Mess), Rainer Erler's Operation Ganymed (1977), and Kamikaze 1989 (1982). Fassbinder's made-for-tv movie Welt Am Draht (1973; vt World on a Wire) is also of substantial interest. [HJA]
see also: Johann Valentin Andreae; Maurice Ascher; Rudolf Brunngraber; Helene Bukowski; Dietmar Dath; Peter De Mendelssohn; Roland Emmerich; Hans Magnus Enzensberger; Andreas Eschbach; Hanns Heinz Ewers; Hanns Gobsch; Günter Grass; Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff; Martin Grzimek; Anton-Andreas Guha; Franz Hartmann; Gerhart Hauptmann; Hermann Hesse; Franz Hoffmann; Willigis Jäger; Georg Kaiser; Hermann Kasack; Fedor Kaul; Charlotte Kerner; Eberhard Christian Kindermann; Athanasius Kircher; Hans Hellmut Kirst; Marc-Uwe Kling; Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger; Alexander Kluge; Wilhelm Lamszus; Artur Landsberger; Karl May; Walter Moers; Paul Georg Münch; August Niemann; Eugen Richter; Frank Schätzing; Heinrich Schutz; Adolf Sommerfeld; Edward Stilgebauer; Ludwig Tügel; Max Uhlemann; Simon Urban; Timur Vermes; Wernher von Braun; Julia von Lucadou; David Friedrich Weinland; Adolf Wilbrandt; Conrad Wilbrandt; Henry Winterfeld; Christa Wolf; Juli Zeh; Hans-Heinrich Ziemann.
- Michael Hamburger. From Prophecy to Exorcism: The Premisses of Modern German Literature (London: Longmans, 1965) [nonfiction: hb/nonpictorial]
- William B Fischer. The Empire Strikes Out: Kurd Lasswitz, Hans Dominik, and the Development of German Science Fiction (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1984) [nonfiction: hb/G D]
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