Why there is no Muslim fantasy

edited March 2010 in Story Games
The first question is: what is fantasy?

I take fantasy in one direction to be a fundamentally British, Christian genre, with strong themes of charity, humility, service, good vs evil etc. This branch of fantasy was created by brother Inklings Tolkien and Lewis. There is a veritable cornucopia of derivative fantasy spilling from this horn of plenty, all following a similar model from The Sword of Shannara on. Le Guin's Earthsea work, though American, is a major juncture in this stream, a conscious rebellion against whiteness and Christianity in fictional form (though it took her till Tehanu to take on the patriarchy).

The other great stream is American, coming of course from Howard, Leiber, Lovecraft and Ashton Smith. This is a more picaresque and amoral take on pre-modern tropes. Arguably, this is also the foundation of classic FRP. Moorcock, though British, belongs to this stream.

Overwhelmingly, these are Anglo genres. One major stream portrays the people of the South/East as dark-skinned, inscrutable, cruel demon-worshippers. The Calormenes and the men of Harad are cut from the same cloth (that would be the tattered remnants of the British Empire).

The American stream is a little more ambiguous. Howard and Leiber portray their Eastern decadents with more love, yet still with the air of foreigners in alien worlds. It is the Orientalism of Byron rather than Kipling. Still the East/South is the exotic Other to be conquered and colonised. At this point we can recognise Oriental Adventures and Legend of the Five Rings as firmly in the American stream. We colonise and consume the mystic Orient, enjoying its opium and hookers.

With the major streams in fantasy so dominated by Anglo-Saxon tropes and themes, how can anybody wonder that examples of fantasy from a Muslim perspective are wanting? Muslims are supremely Othered at this point in time, whether within our cultures or living in foreign lands. No self-respecting intelligent Muslim is going to write within a tradition that casts them in the role of the Eastern Others (Le Guin's anthropologising notwithstanding). And it's an unusual Muslim that has the cultural background in any case.

There's also the issue of market penetration. Most Muslim countries have English as a second language at best, so while blockbusters like LotR may get translated, they won't get the same mass of popular fantasy. Overwhelmingly, the readers of this stuff are the globalised middle- to upper-class, more or less fluent in English; thus a tiny fraction of the population. This class, also the class that writes, is consumed with matters of national identity and post-colonialism. At least, those are the ones that get published in English.

That's my reading on the cultural and political obstacles to seeing any significant contributions to the fantasy genre from a Muslim. I think the best chance is from a Western convert who has a pre-existing love of the genre, and the desire to write a Great Muslim Fantasy Novel.

Comments

  • Fact: There is no Chinese, Japanese or Indian fantasy.

    But seriously, a scimitar is just as cool and exotic in an orientalist vibe as a katana.

    An Arabian Nights RPG would be great fun. I have the Thief of Baghdad (1940) queued up on my Tivo right now.

    I'm just worried it'll get bogged down in the seriousness of our modern, PC conceptions. I don't think we need to make it overtly Muslim any more than D&D is overtly Christian.
  • Well, there's Rushdie. Do very secular Muslim magical realist / modern fantasy writers count?
  • edited March 2010
    Rushdie isn't fantasy in the bookstore genre isle sense of fantasy.

    Whether that's the definition that we should use is one thing, but it is the definition most of North American culture uses, so that's the other.

    I also have a few Indian friends who frequently tell me, when discussing Rushdie, that he's about as Indian as Lord Clive. Which I find unfair, but does rather illustrate the point of his British background and education with a point, even if an unfair one. I'm pretty sure the same point sticks in the craw of his Islamic status.

    Now, in other news, let me dig up something about India and fantasy....

    Ah, here it is: I didn't dream of dragon.

    It also, if you look at it sideways, asks the important question "what is a dragon, and why, and how and when does it make a book fantasy." But hell, that's rather subtle.
  • edited March 2010
    The Great Muslim Fantasy Novel was written a long time ago, in Persian. It's called the Shahnameh.

    The Great Muslim Fantasy Short Story Collection was written a long time ago, in Arabic. It's called One Thousand and One Nights.

    Brits and Americans invented the fantasy genre because, out of all the various white peoples, they're the ones who don't have any good historical legends of their own. When Scandinavians want fantasy, they turn to the epics and folk tales about trolls. When Germans want fantasy, they write operas about valkyries.

    edit: I should put a space here for clarity.

    Likewise, when Muslims want fantasy, they have a wealth of folk tales, like the one about Hizir who converted Alexander the Great to Islam. When Chinese people want fantasy, they just take historical personalities and give them super-powers, before Americans invented their own superheroes. Indians? Same, thing. They have plenty of fantasy stories.

    Or do you mean you want muslims to read Western fantasy novels and then start writing their own novels in the same genre?
  • edited March 2010
    Sure, and there's also some inherent... weirdness in the question, right? I mean, if fantasy is, to some extent, and inherently Eurocentric, romantically-medieval genre... why should there be Muslim or Chinese or Indian fantasy? I mean, Laurence Yep, with Dragons of the Lost Sea, created some pretty potent Chinese-American fantasy novels, but that's kind of a different beast. If you look at stuff like, uh, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away as Japan's response to "fantasy," that kind of thing is much more exciting to me, birthing new fantasies from a mixture of globalized ideas and one's own cultural heritage, rather than expecting or feeling entitled to having fantasy novelists of X background.

    Also, it seems like, as Chinese fans of the LOTR movies and Harry Potter grow up, we'll get Chinese writers who write Western-style fantasy novels. I mean, really, China's only known fantasy novels existed since the early 1980s. But that's not really what's most exciting, necessarily. I'm not super excited, necessarily, about the next Western-style pop-punk or rapcore band coming out of China, for similar reasons.

    EDIT: Word. Wuxia is still one of the most novel popular genres in China. Do you know that the University of Washington can't keep Louis Cha novels on the shelves? That's INSANE.
  • edited March 2010
    Posted By: JohnstoneBrits and Americans invented the fantasy genre because, out of all the various white peoples, they're the ones who don't have any good historical legends of their own.
    Yea, those fucking Brits. Look at their impoverished culture with its no Arthur, no Beowulf, no Tom o Bedlam, Robin Hood, no Puck, no Jack, no Mabinogion....

    Wait. What?

    Plus, you know, I love the Shahnameh. I go to the reference library sometimes to struggle through the beautiful illuminated one they keep in a box and give to you with an English translation to help you with the fact that your Persian probably isn't all it should be. But it isn't really fantasy, in the sense the word gets used in for the modern context. Nor a novel, for that matter. Nor particularly Muslim-centric, being a bit more Persian-centric.



    Now, in so far as a split between the past and the present being seen as a valid in-culture divide, there is some point here. To Brits like Tolkien, for example, there was very certainly a sense of being on the opposite side of a gap between the age of legends and the age of modernity. Their fantasy was an attempt to put those old symbols into use in a way that made sense to the cultural-paradigm of the modern. Many (though not all, I'm not even convinced that its near a majority) of cultures in the rest of the world manifest that divide differently, or not at all, and so the way they use, re-use, or reinterpret their symbols is going to be different.

    But still, this is all positing Muslims as Persian speaking guys from the area that's now lost in between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. What about the Muslim Americans and Muslim Canadian who've been part of North American culture for a hundred plus years?

    I dunno. I have a feeling some of them may write fantasy. I just haven't seen it. Maybe I should look.
  • Posted By: Brand_RobinsYea, those fucking Brits. Look at their impoverished culture with its no Arthur, no Beowulf, no Tom o Bedlam, Robin Hood, no Puck, no Jack, no Mabinogion....
    Tell it to Tolkien, holmes. I posted his opinion (and one of his stated reasons for writing LotR), not my own. There's more French King Arthur material than English, although you're right about Beowulf. Maybe it just wasn't long enough.
    And personally, I suspect Lord Dunsany was influenced by all the funny names that colonialism produced for British people at home, and not any desire to create a national mythology.
    Posted By: Brand_Robinsthe Shahnameh... Nor particularly Muslim-centric, being a bit more Persian-centric.
    Written 400 years after Persia was Islamicized, it's a fantasy re-imagining of Persian history with nothing Islamic in it at all. Which makes it rather similar to works by Christian Englishmen re-imagining Anglo-Saxon/Germanic history without any Jesus.
    Posted By: Brand_RobinsWhat about the Muslim Americans and Muslim Canadian who've been part of North American culture for a hundred plus years?
    Anyway, this is probably what droog is talking about, or the globalization of the modern Anglo-American fantasy genre. It's really just a percentages game, isn't it? How many people in the Nation of Islam read fantasy? How many Muslim immigrants read fantasy? How many of their kids read fantasy? And of the people who read fantasy, how many people write it? And of those, how many are any good? It's a white genre and a white majority, and it's a job that doesn't pay well, so the odds are stacked. And the number of Muslims who have been part of Canadian culture for a hundred plus years is, what, like 5 or 6?
  • Posted By: JohnstoneAnd the number of Muslims who have been part of Canadian culture for a hundred plus years is, what, like 5 or 6?
    Thousands, actually. There have been Muslims in Canada for as long as there has been a Canada (as a nation). Not many, sure, but more than you'd think. And there are even more Sikhs, who've been settling in the country since before it was a country. (Some came over right after the 1857 rebellion, and have been here ever since.) But I still don't know many Sikhs who are into fantasy.

    Now, all this is also in contrast to SF. There aren't exactly overflowing numbers of Muslim, Sikh, or Indian SF writers that I know of -- but I do know of a few and a growing number. That's one of the points in the "no Jewish fantasy" article that started this off that I found most interesting. There is SF from almost everyone on earth these days, but fantasy... fantasy seems pretty tied to a specific demographic.

    Part of that is certainly the numbers/power issue you bring up. But I do think there is probably some more subtle cultural stuff there too. Much as I found the "No Jews do fantasy" article overstated in many ways, I think there is some point to the Christian bias in the development and cultural expression of the fantasy genre.
  • Okay, hyperbole aside, even a couple thousand people (pre-60s) means a handful would actually read fantasy, maybe one would write fantasy, and it would suck. Statistically speaking. Immigration's really picked up (esp. in Canada) since the 60s, though, and it's a bit much to expect even the first generation to take up their own version of every aspect of North American culture.

    As to sci-fi's popularity, well, people all over the world are more concerned about the future than the past, so more people will look to sci-fi.
  • I only brought the Christian thing up to compare Tolkien and Lewis to Ferdowsi. I don't remember ever hearing much about religion amongst American fantasy authors.
    Maybe somebody will propose the idea that, because fantasy is all power-fantasy stuff, it's a Protestant-dominated genre, with Catholics, and especially Jews being too guilt-ridden to really get into it. If they were actually serious, that would be hilarious. However, the idea that visible minorities might not be too interested in an absolute good vs. evil ideology might hold some weight, even though it doesn't apply to all fantasy.
  • edited March 2010
    Consider how much harder it is for black, female, or gay speculative fiction authors to get published, especially if they WANT their audience to know they aren't white anglosaxon hetero males!

    I would be hesitant to say there is no "muslim fantasy", but it sure as hell doesn't get published in the US or UK to any significant degree.

    Secondly what is "muslim fantasy" in this context? Does it have to have religious overtones? Does fantasy by arabic or persian authors rooted in their culture count if it doesn't feature religion?

    Anyways, take a look at Persian Fantasy Academy: english portal, wikipedia

    EDIT: For an Indian (non-muslim) viewpoint, I Didn't Dead of Dragons is an excellent read.
  • Chinese Fantasy.

    I imagine that there are similar things* going on in Muslim countries but, not speaking the language, I don't know.

    yrs--
    --Ben

    * Imagining a fantastical past history complete with magic, warriors, and romance. Western fantasy of the Inklings school, sadly, really lacks the last, but I won't hold the deficiencies of Christendom against them; they're getting better at it.
  • This seems like a pretty straightforward question to me. There is nothing like a recognizable muslim fantasy literature because few muslim countries have gone through a socio-cultural period resembling modernism. Turkey probably comes closest (aside from whatever East-Asian exception somebody drags out), but I'd argue that in their case the modernism is very much externally forced by the upper strata of the society; not grounds for a strong cultural current.

    Compare to the western world, where writers know in their bones that the religious, romantic world-view is really and truly relegated to the past, while the future belongs to rationalized, technological, bureaucratic systems that reduce individuals to cogs in a machine. A highly educated population that values freedom to dream and freedom to speculate is an obvious market for a literary form that makes no direct claims to reality; they're sophisticated enough to find purchase in fiction that connects to their own experience only through the most generic human condition.

    Looking at it, the most cultures with most stable fantastic literature are all industrialized and modern - western nations, obviously, but also Japan, South Korea, and increasingly China. Fantasy literature as we recognized it goes hand in hand with the presence of modern infrastructure.

    (And because this is the Internet, let it be said that I don't particularly imply a value-reading in the above, although I am willing to speculate on the relative values of modern vs. pre-modern society if anybody is so inclined.)
  • Posted By: jaywaltSure, and there's also some inherent... weirdness in the question, right? I mean, if fantasy is, to some extent, and inherently Eurocentric, romantically-medieval genre... whyshouldthere be Muslim or Chinese or Indian fantasy? I mean, Laurence Yep, withDragons of the Lost Sea, created some pretty potent Chinese-American fantasy novels, but that's kind of a different beast. If you look at stuff like, uh,Princess MononokeandSpirited Awayas Japan's response to "fantasy," that kind of thing is much more exciting to me, birthing new fantasies from a mixture of globalized ideas and one's own cultural heritage, rather than expecting or feeling entitled to having fantasy novelists of X background.
    Well, fantasy in Japan is a little weird because if you use the Western word (fantajii/ファンタジー), it basically means Western-style fantasy, which seems like it got to Japan more in the form of computer games than anything else. Hence Japanese versions of Western-style fantasy often come off as being descended from Dragon Quest rather than Tolkien. OTOH there's no shortage of Japanese tales with Japanese-style magic and monsters. Miyazaki has done films like that, and more often than not stories about ninjas and such made in Japan go into the realm of the fantastic.
  • Interesting point: I see lots of discussion based on good examples of fantasy from various cultures, but no definition of what Fantasy is. I think it might be useful at this stage for people to take two steps back from the discussion as it stands and think about what makes the genre what it is. For example, all cultures have their myths, legends and religions. Exactly how far removed from Fantasy are any of these?

    -Ash
  • Is it a matter of how far removed a culture's myths, legends and religions are from Fantasy or how far removed those things are from the regular, daily thoughts of people in a culture?

    I think this definitely ties in to what Eero says above about modernism. At some point there seems to come a flip. Instead of the foundational myths and legends being the daily realm of the fantastic that role is filled by the derivative of those, modern Fantasy.
  • As a fan of history, fantasy, and Muslims (I teach 7th grade history and one unit is on the rise of Islam), I gotta agree with Eero above.

    I imagine the best way to talk about "what's an rpg like in a modern Muslim country?" I'd say the closest thing would be Shock: Social Science Fiction, because we're talking about societies that have experience such extreme changes in the past 200 years.

    Just read a brief history of Saudi Arabia to get a feel for this.

    And: great discussion guys.
  • I have the strong impression that most of you did not actually read the article that spawned this discussion. Here is his central argument from the article:
    To put it crudely, if Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly. Judaism’s divine drama is connected with a specific people in a specific place within a specific history. Its halakhic core is not, I think, convincingly represented in fantasy allegory. In its rabbinic elaboration, even the messianic idea is shorn of its mythic and apocalyptic potential. Whereas fantasy grows naturally out of Christian soil, Judaism’s more adamant separation from myth and magic render classic elements of the fantasy genre undeveloped or suspect in the Jewish imaginative tradition. Let us take two central examples: the magical world and the idea of evil.
    Essentially, he's arguing that the concerns, focus, and general outlook of Judaism don't lend themselves to the general paradigms of high fantasy. One would presume that likewise, the differences in outlook and concerns for Islam—or Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and so forth—are the reason for a similar lack of high fantasy coming from those religious/cultural backgrounds.
  • Interesting. I wonder how many people realise that a great deal of what is considered good fantasy material by the media (notably Lucifer, the fall from grace, and the various apocalyptic Revalations) have long been stripped out of Christianity's official belief system as apochryphal, and now continue mostly by the weight of their public popularity? By contrast, Islam still recognises the existence of a fallen angel, though to them he is named Iblis (nee Samael) rather than Lucifer.

    (Incidentally, the Narnia tales could just as easily have been influenced by other world religions than Christianity. A great deal of so-called 'Pagan' religions also feature the archetype of the Sacrificial King who is reborn. The monomyth is pretty common, and would appear to predate Christianity in many cases. And CS Lewis was certainly interested in such things, as the plethora of fauns, satyrs, centaurs, griffons and other mythical beasts of ancient Greece would attest to. If you want to read Lewis' Christian works, look up 'Mere Christianity' and 'The Screwtape Letters')

    -Ash
  • Of course, one criticism of the Weingrad article is that the historical and sociological causes it posits for the paucity of Jewish writers of high fantasy (even stipulating such a distinction as being worth making) are far more powerful and persuasive (e.g., the murderous ugliness of European anti-Semitism since medieval times and of course later making the romantic re-imagining of that era repellent to a self-consciously Jewish fantasist) than the argument he makes about the ideological contrast between Judaism and Christianity.

    Without taking anything away from Eero's point about fantasy emerging as a romantic reaction to modernity, I would argue that the method of high fantasy is to turn myth into art to achieve enchantment. As art, it is thus self-conscious (aware of its own artifice) in a way that myth can't be. The danger of artifice, of course, is that it allows for the possibility of irony, and high fantasy is best served earnest. Thus, the book that Weingrad reviews, Grossman's The Magicians strikes me as aping the form of high fantasy without entering into its spirit. This may be a good thing, but it is the opposite of enchantment. It's like MST3King Narnia and Harry Potter.

    I like the idea that emerges from reading people's responses to the OP, that particular forms of the fantastic emerge as contemporaneous responses to specific social and cultural moments while drawing upon prior art and tradition for their artistic influences. The fact that there are no Muslim hobbits per se tells us nothing about Islam as a set of ideas.

    In the West, the prior art and tradition of high fantasy now includes all that emulates, imitates, or derives from Tolkien--including D&D. Somebody explain to me how they think The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao fits into this discussion of who writes fantasy and why.
  • As a side note, a co-worker and I were both reading 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' at the same time, and I was interested to know what she thought of all the "nerd culture" references (D&D, comic books, Lord of the Rings, etc). She said she thought Junot Diaz was just "making that stuff up".
  • Posted By: Bill_White(e.g., the murderous ugliness of European anti-Semitism since medieval times and of course later making the romantic re-imagining of that era repellent to a self-consciously Jewish fantasist)
    I was about to say, this times one billion.
  • Tariq Ali's is not really a Muslim AFAIK and his historical novels are not really fantasy, but they are the closest thing that I know of to what you are looking for. Great books, in any event.
  • Uh ... There are an awful lot of Jewish fantasy writers. In fact, Jews are probably better represented amongst fantasy writers than the population at large (not surprising, really, as Jews tend to be overrepresented at most intellectual jobs). So we can have a whole bunch of theories about why there are no Jewish fantasy authors, but in the end it's like theories about why there are no Jewish doctors, or no Black basketball players: all our theorizing won't make Beagle, Yolen, and Chabon go away.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited March 2010
    Reposting the link, because it seems people missed it: Persian Fantasy Academy is an Iranian group that, among other things publishes Iranian fantasy and gives out yearly awards for Iranian scifi and fantasy authors.

    If you're really sticking to the label, yeah, they don't self identify as a muslim group, but Iran is a theocracy, so...

    EDIT: tyop
  • To be fair, Weingrad says "fantasy" when he means a particular sub-genre (high fantasy) or perhaps more accurately marketing category (bookstore category Fantasy) rather than the breadth of the fantastic per se. Ben is right to suggest that it amounts to special pleading, though.
  • The big difference between Western Fantasy and Oriental Fantasy is that in the West we favour the individual above the collective, while in Oriental societies the collective is more important than the individual.

    An Orientalist Fantasy rpg should focus on the role the individual PCs play in protecting the honor and welfare of their community. There would be no place for personal honor and a personal alignment system. The successes of the pc party are measured by how succesful they are for their tribe or family.
  • Posted By: DestriarchI see lots of discussion based on good examples of fantasy from various cultures, but no definition of what Fantasy is. I think it might be useful at this stage for people to take two steps back from the discussion as it stands and think about what makes the genre what it is.
    What the discussion so far has made me think about is the notion that "fantasy" (in the "book store isle genre" sense, as someone put it) is really about inventing mythology. There must be counterexamples to this hypothesis (i.e. there must exist "fantasy" books that don't invent their own mythology or mutate existing mythology to their own ends), but I can't think of any at the moment.

    If that is a realistic definition, then you have to consider the idea that "fantasy" hasn't come up in other cultures because those cultures just don't put up with that shit, either through apathy to the idea or suppression. It's actually sort of hard to imagine even stories like those of Tolkien or Lovecraft being tolerated in Christendom prior to the Renaissance. Inquisition fodder for sure.
  • I'm hardly an expert, but don't some Muslims get really angry when you mention Mohammad in the wrong (unholy) context? Wouldn't this make writing fantasy literature about Islam pretty difficult, especially if you're not a Muslim in the first place? I'm pretty sure that "inventing mythology" around Islam would really anger some Muslims.
  • edited March 2010
    Posted By: WordmanWhat the discussion so far has made me think about is the notion that "fantasy" (in the "book store isle genre" sense, as someone put it) is really aboutinventing mythology. There must be counterexamples to this hypothesis (i.e. there must exist "fantasy" books that don't invent their own mythology or mutate existing mythology to their own ends), but I can't think of any at the moment.
    There seems to me that there have been a certain amount of fantasy novels that made use of various forms of Celtic mythology (mostly Irish and Welsh) as a setting, such as the Bard books by Keith Taylor. And, more recently, Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout makes use of Norse Mythology as a setting (plus the modern world -- it's a bit strange). It seems to me that there are a fair amount of others genre fantasy novels making direct use of real world mythologies that way.

    And then there's Jacqueline Cary's Banewreaker/Godslayer duology, which is sort of LotR retold from Sauron's point of view as a tragedy (but with the serial numbers filed off).

    One interesting fantasy author is M.A.R. Barker (he writes fantasy novels set in Tékumel as well as RPGs), who while he converted to Islam at age 21, produced a world with a very pagan mythology. (Which, admittedly, contains gods that you could interpret as powerful extra-dimensional beings who find it useful to pose as gods.)
  • Given the link posted above to the Iranian fantasy writers group, maybe we can put "it's offensive to Islam" to bed? Because, really, if fantasy writing was the tiniest bit religiously offensive, it wouldn't be legally going on in Iran, right? Thanks.

    Indeed, I'm beginning to think that this whole supposition is untrue. The Persian Fantasy Academy kinda puts a lie to it. The fact of the matter is, one could say the same thing about, say, detective stories and probably be equally right. The observation "there are no writers of X genre in Y culture" will come down to two bits:

    1) It being a different culture, the limits of genre will be defined differently. Tolkein and Lewis (or Leiber and Howard or Dunsany and Eddison) are not as important to non-native English speakers because they're often not available and, even if they are translated, they don't have the same cultural and linguistic relevance. Thus, there'll be less work directly inspired by them, and more work inspired by similar writers in their own language. So we should expect less American genres (fantasy, mystery, western, horror, etc.) in other languages, and we should also expect that, if present, they'll look a little bit different.

    2) The ignorance of the person making the statement. There are a dozen or so of Iranian fantasy authors listed at the PFA website: I have never heard of any of them. This is because, well, I don't know Farsi, and I don't go out of my way to find translations (if any exist) from Farsi to English, so I'm unlikely to have ever run across these people. As genre writing is not considered culturally important, it's far less likely to be translated as well, so it's highly unusual for any non-native speaker to find this stuff without seeking it out.

    One can always come up with reasons (based on stereotypes -- true or not) why some group of people has or lacks a certain quality (in this case, that Muslims don't write fantasy -- or Jews don't, or whatever). This doesn't mean that they actually lack this quality, though. It just means that as far as the original speaker is concerned, they don't, which generally means that the original speaker hasn't looked hard enough, as we're discovering in this case with Islam.

    So, uh, maybe do some actual research? It would have benefited the original author, and it would benefit us.

    yrs--
    --Ben

    P.S. to Mordheim. I can't tell if you're trolling on purpose or accidentally, but uh, wow. Maybe you should try reading a Jin Yong novel (the Tolkein of China) and see how it holds up to your theory (hint: it doesn't.) I hear that The Deer and the Cauldron has an excellent translation.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayWouldn't this make writing fantasy literature about Islam pretty difficult, especially if you're not a Muslim in the first place?
    Only if your fantasy somehow involves Mohammed (peace be upon him, etc etc). Then again, in Dragonlance you don't meet, play, join forces with or beat up Jesus, Elijah, Moses, or God. So it should be ok.

    The only problem would be with an RPG sourcebook: It couldn't contain any illustrations (although it might contain kick-ass calligraphy). That could be problematic.
    Or, depending on interpretation by scholars, you might get away with scenery, pictures of inanimate things (not people, animals, etc).

    -Andy
  • Thanks for clearing that up for me, Andy.

    No thanks to you, Ben, once again, for being your typical charming self.
  • Jorge Luis Borges wrote some fantasy about Middle Eastern cultures.

  • I'd be psyched to get some more references in the thread to authors I don't know.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI'd be psyched to get some more references in the thread to authors I don't know.
    As would I.

    Maybe I should ask in RPGNet/Other Media Open when I have time. Or someone else could start that thread up.

    -Andy
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