Egypt in Translation: SF, Antiquity and Metaphorical Communication

Emad El-Din Aysha and Dr. Ola Elaboudy

SF itself is a form of translation because authors use imagery (motifs, expressions, cultural and historical references) that their readers can relate to. World-building is meaningless without world-introducing. Egyptian SF is a special case of this since Egyptian SF authors are very interested in their country’s past, pagan (ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic), Christian and Islamic to learn lessons from the past for the present and to help the reader comprehend himself and his country’s identity.
Ahmed Salah Al-Mahdi does this through his novels Malaz: City of Resurrection (Mamluks and ancient Egyptians side-by-side) and The Greek Papyrus: The Envoy of Morpheus, a novel with magic cults, Greek gods and the Library of Alexandria. Another author is Hossam Salah, The Adventure of the Seven Earths, with mysterious energy fields serving as portals to alternate earth, and these gateways are located at ancient Egyptian sites. The hero scientist gets to see Egypt as an advanced nation rivaling Germany in one of these alternate worlds and the ancients are presented as having known many of these dimensional secrets all along. The seven Earths is also an Islamic expression. Older Egyptian SF authors (e.g. Nihad Sharif, Mustafa Mahmoud) also used ancient Egypt as a way to talk about science and spiritualism and this fashion is rising again.
But this all needs to be understood in relation to translation theory and the unique opportunities opened up by SF since future worlds demand future-speak that is at the same time comprehensible to the modern-day reader.

Guest of Honour of the 8th FantaSTikon Emad el-din Aysha is an academic researcher, journalist, translator and author currently residing in Cairo, Egypt. Bilingual, have a PhD from the United Kingdom and have published his first English language non-fiction book - Arab and Muslims Science Fiction: Critical Essays (McFarland, 2022). He has one SF anthology, in Arabic, and have translated several novels from Arabic to English. He is also a member of the Egyptian Society for Science Fiction.
Dr. Ola Elaboudy is an Egyptologyst, Lecturer at the Department of Archeology. Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, Egypt.