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The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Croatia

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.



 

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.

 

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