Dave Bradley at­tended a panel of Eastern thinkers, writ­ers and film­mak­ers

SFX - - Conventions -

The Direc­tor’s Suite at Lon­don’s world fa­mous Science Mu­seum is a hand­some two- tiered li­brary with space for about 100 seats, a big screen and a panel area. And it was this venue that played host to a dis­cus­sion, subti­tled From Imag­i­na­tion To In­no­va­tion, or­gan­ised by Sind­bad Sci- Fi as part of Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea’s Nour Fes­ti­val. Broad­caster Samira Ahmed hosted an in­for­mal chat be­tween sci­en­tist and play­wright Has­san Ab­dulraz­zak; au­thor and co- founder of Yatakhay­aloon ( The League Of Arab Sci- Fiers) Yasser Bah­jatt; science writer and edi­tor of Re­search Fort­night Ehsan Ma­sood; and artist and film­maker Larissa San­sour. There were story read­ings and a short film en­ti­tled Na­tion Es­tate.

The event aimed to unite many things: science and the arts, East and West, academia and popular cul­ture. It may not have solved the peren­nial puzzler of world peace, but the evening did re­mind us that while mod­ern SF tends to be re­garded as a West­ern phe­nom­ena, there are im­por­tant pre­cur­sors from the Mid­dle East in­clud­ing the fan­tas­tic leg­ends of Sind­bad the sailor. And there’s a thriv­ing in­ter­est in genre lit­er­a­ture there to­day, de­spite cen­sor­ship in places like Saudi Ara­bia, as re­vealed by Yasser Bah­jatt. He con­tends that there’s an im­por­tant cor­re­la­tion be­tween the sales of sci- fi in a coun­try and the over­all level of sci­en­tific ad­vance­ment. “This year’s theme [ was] science fic­tion as an im­por­tant link be­tween the cre­ative imag­i­na­tion and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion,” ex­plains Sind­bad Sci- Fi’s co­or­di­na­tor Yas­min Khan. Samira Ahmed says: “Even SF can get bogged down in its own tra­di­tions. So ex­plor­ing SF through the prism of the Arab imag­i­na­tion is fas­ci­nat­ing. It’s a great chance to lis­ten to some pow­er­ful lit­er­ary voices and re­think what SF is about and what it can do.” The event in­cluded a prize draw and a pleas­ant, com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment in which to sip or­ange juice and chat. More in­for­ma­tion about the an­nual Nour Fes­ti­val at www. rbkc. gov. uk/ sub­sites/ nour. aspx

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