Show Less
Open access

Science Fiction Literature in East Germany


Sonja Fritzsche

East German science fiction enabled its authors to create a subversive space in another time and place. One of the country’s most popular genres, it outlined futures that often went beyond the party’s official version. Many utopian stories provided a corrective vision, intended to preserve and improve upon East German communism. This study is an introduction to East German science fiction. The book begins with a chapter on German science fiction before 1949. It then spans the entire existence of the country (1949-1990) and outlines key topics essential to understanding the genre: popular literature, socialist realism, censorship, fandom, and international science fiction. An in-depth discussion addresses notions of high and low literature, elements of the fantastic and utopia as critical narrative strategies, ideology and realism in East German literature, gender, and the relation between literature and science. Through a close textual analysis of three science fiction novels, the author expands East German literary history to include science fiction as a valuable source for developing a multi-faceted understanding of the country’s short history. Finally, an epilogue notes new titles and developments since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Show Summary Details
Open access



All projects are the sum of the work of many people behind the scenes. Throughout the research and writing process, I have benefited from the advice and moral support of numerous individuals, all of whom I cannot name here, but whom I wish to thank nonetheless. First of all, I wish to extend my appreciation to Jack Zipes, Arlene Teraoka, Rick McCormick, Mary Jo Maynes and John Mowitt, who have been patient and forthcoming with extensive resources and critique. Thomas Kramer and Vibs Petersen also provided valuable commentary. I would like to thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Office of External Affairs at the Freie Universität, Berlin, the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Graduate School and Illinois Wesleyan University for financial support that proved invaluable for the completion of this project.

For their time and insight into the world of East German science fiction, I would like to thank authors Johanna and Günter Braun, Alexander Kröger and his wife Susanne Routschek, Carlos Rasch, Karlheinz and Angela Steinmüller, Michael Szameit and editors Ekkehard Redlin and Erik Simon. Many contacts and opportunities would have passed me by if it had not been for the industrious members of the Andymon science fiction fan club, including, among others, Wolfgang Both, Siegfried Breuer, Ronald Hoppe, Hardy Kettlitz, Hans-Peter Neumann, Klaus Scheffler, Ingolf Vonau, and Anita Winkler. We miss collector Hans-Jürgen Erich. The staffs of the Bundesarchiv–Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Amerikanische Gedenkbibliothek–Berlin, and Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar have been invaluable. In addition, I wish to acknowledge the Das Neue Berlin/ Eulenspiegel Verlag, which furnished and granted permission to use the original book cover artwork from Del Antonio’s Heimkehr der Vorfahren, Johanna and Günter Braun’s Unheimliche Erscheinungsformen auf Omega XI and Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller’s Der Traummeister. ← 9 | 10

For careful and consistent reading, I would like to thank Gun Edberg–Caldwell, Barbara Drescher, Rachel Huener, Beth Muellner, and Leo Riegert. Stokes Schwartz caught errors that I could no longer see. My student assistant Matt Thompson worked tirelessly at a tedious research task. Thanks are also due to Marina Balina, Kathy Brown, Robert Doebgen, Klaus Frühauf, Detlef Kannapin, Ludmila Kizer, Patrick McLane, Julie Prandi, Heidi Soneson, Nancy Sultan, Lyman Tower Sargeant, and Gerhard Wiechmann. Finally, I cannot begin to adequately thank my family, Nan and Dave Fritzsche, Tanya Losey, and Stokes Schwartz, for their unwavering moral support and painstaking reminders that there is a life beyond the book manuscript.

This book is a result of the input of many individuals. Still, this author has been the one to sift through and analyze the information provided. Therefore, any errors or oversights are my own. In addition, all English translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. If a book exists in English translation, I deferred to this translation. ← 10 | 11 →