Vorgriff auf das Lichte Morgen. Studien zur DDR-Science-Fiction (Anticipations of a Bright Tomorrow. Studies in East German Science Fiction)


By Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller
EDFC Passau, 1995

Looking back at forty years of East German science fiction is not an easy task. About 150 novels and more than one thousand stories have to be considered, you simply cannot give justice to each individual voice, to each interesting book. At best it is possible to sketch an outline of the general tendencies, and of the different mutations the genre took during the four decades. East German SF had little traditions to build upon. The earlier German SF of the Third Reich – epitomised in the novels of Hans Dominik – was discredited because of its service to the Nazi ideology. But even the outstanding work of Kurd Laßwitz was nearly forgotten. All that was left was the model of Soviet “scientific fantasy” and the tradition of social utopias. In the first decade, even the word “Science fiction” as known in the West was despised as a shoddy kind of fiction, invented by the class-enemy to spread his anti-humanistic ideology, to confuse the minds of the workers and to prepare ordinary people for the next – nuclear! – war.

The book is focussed on East German science fiction of the 1950ies and 1960ies, and the image of the future in these years, but gives also an outline of the developments till German unification in 1990. With some loss of detail, the evolution can be mapped in four stages:

  • 1950ies: "utopian production novels" with an optimistic communist perspective and lots of imperialist spies.
  • 1960ies: After the Sputnik and Gagarins flight, the conquest of space plays center stage, sometimes with an interplanetary revolution.
  • 1970ies: More scope, more depth, stories with a certain degree of criticism of "real existing socialism" and with a satirical touch.
  • 1980ies: Farewell to the positive utopian future, a communist future becomes nearly unimaginable.

An essay about censorship and self-censorship in East Germany as well as an comprehensive bibliograph by Hans-Peter Neumann complete the volume.