Fazel, please present yourself to our readers.
My name is Farkhondeh Fazel Bakhsheshi and I am the owner of Ahang-e-Ghalam Publishing house. I have been in the Industry since 2000, I am a PhD Candidate in English Literature and an author myself my short stories and plays were published. I publish mainly Persian literature including Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Iraj Fazel Bakhsheshi is one of the Iranian Sci-Fi writers and I Published 7 long stories and 2 collections of short stories by him this make him the number one writer of Sci-Fi in Iran and also makes Ahang-e-Ghalam the leading publisher of Sci-Fi in Iran. He won the title of most active person in Sci-Fi in Iran in 2008.
Please try to make a brief introduction on the Iranian SF history
To be honest there isn’t a very long history of Sci-Fi in Iran, it Started in 1934 with a book called Rostam in 2020 by Sanatizade the story based on the idea of bringing back Rostam, a legendary literary figure of Shahnaame Ferdowsi to live, it resembles the story of Frankenstein by Shelly but in a more heroic sense. At the time there weren’t a book like this and it was called a Scientific Legend rather than fiction after this attempt at Sci-Fi, the genre became mostly a translated one and the works of Verne, Asimov, Heinlein and … started to become popular in Iran. In recent years we observe more attempts on the genre but still it is not a very popular or well-known genre in Iran in comparison to other genres.
Which are the most popular SF magazines and fanzins (printed and online) in Iran?
A few Magazines which include Sci-Fi in Iran in recent years are Daneshmand (Scientist), Keyhan Elmi (Science Universe), Sooreh Nojavan, and Etelaat Elmi (Science Information) some of them no longer publish and the others mostly publishing translated Sci-fi. On the Internet fantasy.ir is the leading website on publishing Sci-Fi which also runs Shegetzar online magazine, Persian Speculative Encyclopedia, and Persian SF&F Fanzine.
Which are the SF&F Clubs that have regulare meetings?
The only well-known one was gatherings held by Fantasy Academy, which no longer is held and I am not aware of any group right now having regular sessions.
Which are the most important local and national SF&F associations?
Besides Fantasy Academy there aren’t any well-organized popular club.
Which are the printing houses that publish mainly SF and Fantasy?
Unfortunately as the genre is not very popular in Iran we do not have a publisher who mainly works in this genre but many publishers publish translated or original Sci-fi and they mostly work in Children and young Adults Literature.
Which are the most popular SF&F conventions in Iran? What are their main attractions?
Again sadly we do not have any conventions here the only one was the one held by Fantasy Academy from 2007 to 2014 which no longer is holding and even this event was more of an Award Festival than a convention.
Who are the main author names in today’s Iran SF&F?
Iraj Fazel Bakhsheshi, Mohammad Ghesa , these are the very few names that are published and are known in Sci-Fi circles but there are many writers who are published on the internet or in magazines.
Give us some names of SF&F Iranian graphic artists
Graphic novels are again a very new phenomenon in Iran and still are considered a part of Children Literature and as the result there aren’t any specific names in this category.
Why Sci-Fi is not very strong in Iran?
Sci-fi in Iran is mostly a translated genre and the cultural difference between the Iran and the countries that the genre is imported from them is great. This in years resulted in a taste in society that makes Iranian Sci-Fi unbelievable and even wired to the readers. This from one side and the fact that the early translated Sci-fi in Iran belonged to Young Adults literature make the genre even less serious the other fact that cause the unpopularity of Sci-fi in Iran is due to its anonymity to the audience. There aren’t many articles or studies on Iranian Sci-fi and no proper advertisement on it. For this reason the risk of publishing it financially is really high and publishers are not willing to take this risk this then will result in less Sci-Fi books and less attention toward the genre this vicious circle causing Iranian Sci-fi writers facing problems in promoting themselves. Also due to the lack of academic attention to the genre it won’t get studied and improved so the serious fans soon get disappointed in development of the genre and the target society for the authors decrease. The last point that I personally disagree with but some of critics consider a factor is the fact that as Iranian scientist are not interested in writing fiction the works created by authors lacks authenticity and that’s the reason the genre doesn’t get the attention needed. But in my opinion acceptance of the genre plays a very important role in its development and because the genre is mostly translated the audience is expecting the Sci-Fi to be foreign not Iranian. Actually being Iranian makes the genre unreal to audience hopefully this can be changed if Sci-Fi writers consider using techniques to change this taste from and external one to an internal one.
What makes Iranian SF original?
Culture and history I believe while Iran is not a country in the list of top scientific discoveries or inventions with the help of our past and history we can create original Sci-Fi combining past and future together as a publisher and a reader I could see the effect of such combination in Fereshteh Negahban a long story by Iraj Fazel Bakhsheshi how scientists are using a very old artifact (Cyrus Cylinder) to travel to past so they can fix the future the idea is not original but the cultural significant and connection to Iran makes it original and at the same time familiar to the Iranian audience.