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This paper addresses the Moroccan science-fiction novel, ‘Iksīr al- ayāt [The Elixir of Life, 1974] by Muhammad `Azīz Lahbābī from the perspective of the efficacy of sf’s cognitive estrangement in providing a class-based and highly charged political critique in and of a repressive society with little or no class mobility. The novel depicts a Morocco fallen into chaos after the introduction of a (never-seen) immortality elixir. A young, impoverished medical student tries to obtain food in the wake of massive disruption caused by the poor’s belief that the elixir will be reserved for the rich. His inability to leverage his educated status over his low birth provides a caustic critique of Moroccan society. The wrapping of this critique in two layers of displacement enables Lahbābī to undertake this critique while remaining insulated from the very real consequences of making it directly.


Originally published in

Ian Campbell. “Science Fiction and Social Criticism in Morocco of the 1970s: Muḥammad `Azīz Laḥbābī’s The Elixir of Life”. Science Fiction Studies,.42:1 (#125), March 2015, pp. 42-55.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.