Have you heard of a novel by the name of The Chemical Wedding (Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz)? If you’re a huge science fiction buff, you might have. The average reader? Probably not. But, you should, because it’s quite possibly the first science fiction novel. It was published in Germany in 1616, set a century and a half earlier, and covers seven days of drama. You’d probably have to pay me to read it, but I still think it’s existence is pretty cool. (Some people argue that Johannes Kepler’s spec-fic about life on the moon, Somnium, should get the nod because it was written in 1608. However, it wasn’t published until 1634. So, y’all can do you, but I’m going to give the nod to the one that was actually published first.)
Add to that a little movie made in 1927 called Metropolis, and it’s clear that Germany was definitely ahead of the game.
Nicholas Day, author of the very disturbing Grind Your Bones to Dust, said of Metropolis:
“That film more or less defined the visual aesthetic and language of high-concept sci-fi for the next 100 years.”
So, when it comes to talking country-specific science fiction, Germany comes out of the gate swinging. It seems a damned shame then that, as far as I could tell, there has only been one author from Germany that has won a Hugo for science fiction: James H. Schmitz (The Witches of Karres, 1967).
Germany does have its own science fiction awards, though: Deutscher Science Fiction Preis, Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis. So if you’re looking for a good place to start, you might want to take a look at some of those award-winning titles.
Of course, it’s not only in science fiction that Germany knocks it out of the park with early works. Who hasn’t heard of the 1922 movie Nosferatu, after all? And we can’t wait to dive into movies from directors such as Jörg Buttgereit, Tim Fehlbaum, Fritz Lang, Roland Emmerich, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, just to name a few.
As you could probably already tell, this month, Sci-Fi & Scary is visiting Germany (via media) to educate ourselves (and possibly some of you) about science fiction and horror works originating in that country. While we will not have as many interviews as we had during Australia month, we do hope to bring you some content directly from creators. (Psst: Stay tuned for a fantastic interview with artist Jörn Meyer!) Feel free to shout out any books or movies you feel it’d be a crime for us to pass up.
Since we are still not very familiar with works out of Germany, we won’t get much more in-depth than this for the introductory article. We hope you’ll join us this month as we delve into German science-fiction and horror. Also, if you fancy yourself well-read (or viewed) on the aforementioned subjects, we would love to have you do a guest post for us on the site.
Bonus: We had a conversation about favorite German sci-fi and horror movies on Twitter. There were some obvious ones that we’ve already mentioned in the article, but a few others came up as well.
- Michael Morar (@michael_morar) – Pandorum
- Darren Kappauf (@daronk77) – Dark (Netflix tv show)
- Lachlan (@LachlanJWatt) – Anatomie, The Days to Come, Cargo
- Nicholas Day (@nickdayonline) – (beyond Nosferatu and Metropolis) The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
- Will Madden (@silverstrigil) – The Testament of Dr Mabuse
- Celeste Ramsay (@celesteramsay) – World on a Wire
Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.