Meet Kushairi Zuradi, an aspiring science fiction author. Late last year when Zuradi sought to have a collection of his short stories published, he was told by many publishers that Malaysians weren't ready for Malay sci-fi books. As he recalls to The Sun Daily:
Tired of listening to publishers' excuses to not publish him, Zuradi, in August 2014, started his own publishing company, Simptomatik Press, and self-published his first sci-fi book called Biohazard, featuring 14 of his short stories that deals with microorganisms
Zuradi, who is currently waiting to start his housemanship, says:
"In my final year in medical school, I studied microorganisms and I was fascinated by their life-cycles. You cannot see them but they are everywhere. We have been taught that 90% of [the cells in the human body are actually] organisms ranging from bacteria to parasites."thesundaily.my
Not only did Zuradi publish his own book of stories, but he has helped other science fiction writers get their works published
To date, his Simptomatik Press has published Fadli Al-Akiti's Gugurnya Azazil, Nor Azida Ishak's Resesif and Fadzlishah Johanabas' Faith and the Machine, which are all available in bookstores.
A fifth book – Suatu Hari Nanti Manusia Akan Melupakan Tuhan is written by Fahmi Mustaffa – is due out at the end of the year. This science fiction tale takes place in a post-apocalyptic Kuala Lumpur where the survivors have created a new human race with the help of a computer chip.
They believe that their creations are better than God's, and over time, they forget about their own creator and about religion. However, there is a small community on the fringes of Kuala Lumpur who still believe in God, and this sparks a conflict between both factions.
What's more is that he hopes to encourage more science fiction writing among the Malay community here and increase scientific literacy in Malaysia through his plans to create another company that will publish factual books focusing on science subjects in Malay
"I want to increase the science knowledge among Malaysians. I believe once they show interest in science, they will pick up Malay science fiction novels to read. That way, we will see a growth in the Malay science fiction readership," he tells The Sun Daily.
"I have a dream where Malaysia will one day host a science fiction literature festival."
He believes one of the reasons why Malay-language science fiction is not as developed as other genre is because many Malays are not interested in reading scientific books. However, he hoping to change this scenario.
"These scientific books will not be complicated. In fact, I will be using simple terms to explain the scientific theories. They will be reader-friendly."
Upon being asked by The Sun Daily, if he as a Muslim feels conflicted in writing and publishing sci-fi books, Zuradi said:
"Honestly speaking, I do not have that kind of dilemma," he says. "The first word of the Quran that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad was read. So it shows that Islam encourages us to read and gain knowledge, including scientific knowledge.
In fact, history has shown that Muslim scholars in the past have dabbled in scientific experiments and contributed vastly to scientific development. Whenever I write science fiction, I always go back to my creator and I never forget my faith."