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Parowski, Maciej

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic, Editor.

(1946-2019) Polish author, editor, literary and film critic, co-author and popularizer of Comics and Graphic Novels, since 1982 closely connected with Fantastyka (the first Polish magazine entirely dedicated to Fantastika), which he co-founded and where he has been the editor of Polish fiction for the whole of its thirty-year existence. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he began his career as a journalist and editor with the students' weekly Politechnik. He made his debut as a writer in 1970 with a story "Bunt robotów" ["Mutiny of Robots"]. In 1978 Parowski's first book was brought out: a nonfiction collection Bez dubbingu ["Undubbed"] (coll 1978); his short stories were assembled as Sposób na kobiety ["A Way to Deal with Women"] (coll 1985). His debut novel, Twarzą ku ziemi ["Face Down"] (1981), due to its employment of science fiction as an engine of sociological analysis became one of the flagships of Polish Sociological SF. It depicted a protagonist who, subjected to a futuristic dehumanized social system of a corrupt elite in power and all-pervasive Technology and surveillance, decides to go deep down under its surface and as a result is faced with destructive and insoluble moral choices.

In addition to writing and editing, Parowski specialized in Comic and Graphic Novel scripting. At the inception of Fantastyka he began to work on Funky Koval, a Space Opera comic originally conceived by Wiktor Żwikiewicz and Jacek Rodek, developed and scripted by Parowski and Rodek, and drawn by an established Polish artist Bogusław Polch. Its first instalment (four black and white panels) was published in the second issue of the magazine, in November 1982. Both strong characterization and an attractive hi-tech future mise-en-scène that boasted flying cars, laser guns, videophones, Aliens with mysterious powers and dramatic Spaceships made the adventures of space detective Funky Koval a cult classic in Poland. Since then Parowski has written scripts for Wiedźmin ["The Witcher"] (1993-1995) – a series of comics based on the highly successful Fantasy short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski – with Sapkowski himself, drawn Bogusław Polch; Naród wybrany ["The Chosen Nation"] (1992-1993 Nowa Fantastyka), drawn by Jarosław Musiał; "Burza" ["The Storm"] (in Wrzesień ["September"], graph anth 2003), an anthology focused on the war of September 1939; Planeta robotów ["Planet of Robots"] (2010), drawn by Jacek Skrzydlewski.

As an editor Parowski is known for high standards, and for his individual, at times dogmatic, taste, which at some point in the late 1990s led to open conflict with Polish Fandom, which grudged his disapproval of authors producing adventure fantasy and thus critically distinguishing between the "problematic" and the "entertaining". It was a sweeping generalization, possibly evincing some nostalgia for the didactic and politically committed overtones of the sociological sf he co-created. But no other editor in the history of Polish fantastic fiction has had such a strong impact on the careers of so many writers and on the general shape of contemporary Polish fantastika as Parowski has had throughout his career. In the 1980s and 1990s he edited several Anthologies of Polish fantastic fiction, for which he wrote analytical overviews. His reviews, columns, essays and interviews published between the 1980s and today are assembled in Czas Fantastyki ["The Time of Fantastika"] (coll 1990) and Małpy Pana Boga. Słowa ["God's Monkeys. Words"] (coll 2012).

In 2004 he initiated and became the editor-in-chief of Czas Fantastyki ["The Time of Fantastika"], a quarterly magazine of high critical ambition – though focused mainly on all aspects of Polish genre literature and media – whose Fanzine layout, digest format and lack of regular literary contributions make it a niche, yet important title on the market, targeted at "advanced" fans of the genre (as in the subtitle).

Burza. Ucieczka z Warszawy '40 ["The Storm. Escape from Warsaw '40"] (2010) is his biggest novel and most ambitious literary work: an Alternate History whose Jonbar Point – torrential rains in September 1939 that bog down the Nazi invasion of Poland – makes possible a continuation of the cultural heyday enjoyed by Poles in the 1930s. Warsaw becomes the centre of European culture, housing two international conferences attended by the most celebrated intellectuals and artists of the time, including George Orwell and Alfred Hitchcock, who comes to Warsaw to observe the making of Escape from Warsaw '40, a high-budget production that describes a world in which Nazi Germany successfully invaded Poland. The film is scripted by Witold Gombrowicz, and stars Marlene Dietrich and Ingrid Bergman (who for this role has given up the offer to appear in Casablanca); for readers of Burza, as for readers of Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle (1962), the "counterfactual" it presents has a haunting effect, one deepened in this case by the knowledge that, speaking both historically and technologically, no weather event could have saved Poland from the Nazi invasion and its dire consequences. Further adding to this sense of poignant frailty, the novel's dreamlike, rhapsodic structure – the puzzling incompleteness of some sub-plots, idiosyncratic appearances and disappearances of characters – creates a series of expressively drawn sketches rather than a coherent story, resembling jazz variations with numerous allusions to real events and prominent people of that period (see History in SF). This dance-like strategy serves to satirize historical figures (Hitler ends up on the island of Saint Helena) and to reproach those who destroyed the dream in the real world; David Herter's First Republic Trilogy does a similar service for Czechoslovakia just before the war, which is there averted. Burza also juxtaposes two specifically Polish sentiments: that instilled by Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), whose novels idealized Polish national qualities and denied any corresponding vices, and that of Gombrowicz, who deprecated "the nation's falling in love with its own beauty" powered by the enormous popularity of Sienkiewicz's literary output, and who fiercely attacked all national myths as well as a Polish inferiority complex towards the West. Interestingly, Burza. Ucieczka z Warszawy '40 is one of several Polish novels published after 2000 which employ Alternate History to mull over Polish past and pose questions of historiosophical nature; if it proves to have climaxed Parowski's career, it will have been a fitting climax.

In 2007, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fantastyka, Maciej Parowski was awarded the silver Gloria Artis medal as one of the magazine's founders and notable editors. [KW]

Maciej Parowski

born Warsaw, Poland: 27 December 1946

died Warsaw, Poland: 2 June 2019


  • Twarzą ku ziemi ["Face Down"] (Warsaw, Poland: Czytelnik, 1981) [pb/Władysław Brykczyńki]
  • Burza. Ucieczka z Warszawy ' 40 ["The Storm. Escape from Warsaw '40"] (Warsaw, Poland: Narodowe Centrum Kultury, 2010) [hb/Wojciech Siudmak]

collections and stories

  • Sposób na kobiety ["A Way to Deal with Women"] (Warszawa, Poland: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1985) [coll: pb/Ryszard Wojtyński]


  • Bez dubbingu ["Undubbed"] (Warsaw, Poland: Młodzieżowa Agencja Wydawnnicza, 1978) [nonfiction: coll: pb/Krzysztof Augustin]
  • Czas fantastyki ["The Time of Fantastika"] (Warsaw, Poland: Glob, 1990) [nonfiction: coll: pb/Mark K Zelejski]
  • Małpy Pan Boga. Słowa ["God's Monkeys. Words"] (Warsaw, Poland: Narodowe Centrum Kultury, 2012) [nonfiction: coll: pb/]

comics and graphic novels


Funky Koval

  • Funky Koval. Bez oddechu ["Funky Koval Vol.1: Breathless"] (Warsaw, Poland: Krajowe Wydawnictwo Czasopism RSW Prasa-Książka-Ruch, 1987) with Jacek Rodek and Bogusław Polch [graph: Funky Koval: pb/Bogułsaw Polch]
  • Funky Koval. Sam przeciw wszystkim ["Funky Koval Vol.2: Alone Against All"] (Warsaw, Poland: Krajowe Wydawnictwo Czasopism RSW Prasa-Książka-Ruch, 1988) with Jacek Rodek and Bogusław Polch [graph: Funky Koval: pb/Bogułsaw Polch]
  • Funky Koval. Wbrew sobie ["Funky Koval Vol.3: Against Himself"] (Warsaw, Poland: Młodzieżowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1992) with Jacek Rodek and Bogusław Polch [graph: Funky Koval: pb/Bogułsaw Polch]
  • Funky Koval. Wrogie przyjęcie ["Funky Koval Vol. 4: Hostile Welcome"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 2011) with Bogusław Polch [graph: Funky Koval: pb/Bogusław Polch]

Wiedźmin/The Witcher

  • Wiedźmin. Droga bez powrotu ["The Witcher Vol. 1: The Road of No Return"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 1993) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]
  • Wiedźmin. Geralt ["The Witcher Vol. 2: Geralt"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 1993) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]
  • Wiedźmin. Mniejsze złow ["The Witcher Vol 3: Lesser Evil"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i ska, 1993) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]
  • Wiedźmin. Ostatnie życzenie ["The Witcher Vol. 4: The Last Wish"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 1994) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]
  • Wiedźmin. Granica możliwości ["The Witcher Vol. 5: The Bounds of Abilities"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 1994) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]
  • Wiedźmin. Zdrada ["The Witcher Vol. 6: The Betrayal"] (Warsaw, Poland: Prószyński i Ska, 1995) with Andrzej Sapkowski and Bogusław Polch [graph: The Witcher: pb/Bogusław Polch]

individual titles

  • Naród wybrany ["The Chosen Nation"] (serialized in Nowa Fantastyka between May 1993 and April 1994) with Jarosław Musiał [mag/]
  • Burza ["The Storm"] in Wrzesień. Antologia komiksu polskiego. Wojna narysowana ["An Anthology of Polish Comics. The Drawn War"] edited by Tomasz Kołodziejczak (Warsaw, Poland: Egmont, 2003) [anth: graph: hb/Agnieszka Wrycz-Szybowska]
  • Planeta robotów ["Planet of Robots"] (Kraków, Poland, Ongrys, 2010) with Jacek Skrzydlewski [graph: hb/Jacek Skrzydlewski]

works as editor


A Close Encounter

  • Bliskie spotkanie ["A Close Encounter"] (Warsaw, Poland: Iskry, 1986) [anth: A Close Encounter: pb/Michał Piekarski]
  • Bliskie spotkanie II ["A Close Encounter II"] (Warsaw, Poland: Iskry, 1987) [anth: A Close Encounter: pb/Michał Piekarski]

individual titles

  • Trzecia brama ["The Third Gate"] (Kraków, Poland: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1987) with Adam Hollanek [anth: pb/Piotr Łopalewski]
  • Pożeracz szarości ["The Devourer of Grayness"] (Warsaw, Poland: Reporter, 1991) [anth: pb/Andrzej Bilewicz]
  • Co większe muchy ["The Bigger Flies"] (Warsaw, Poland: Reporter, 1992) [anth: pb/Andrzej Brzezicki]
  • Miłosne dotknięcie nowego wieku ["The Amorous Touch of the New Century"] (Warsaw, Poland: Próśzyński i S-ka, 1998) [anth: pb/Jakub Szczęsny]


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