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Egypt’s Pioneer of Medical Thriller Genre, Creator of ‘Beyond Metaphysics,’ Dies at 55


Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, a prominent writer and professor of gastroenterology known for creating groundbreaking medical thrillers, compelling horror and science fiction like “Beyond Metaphysics,” and “Fantasia” was laid to rest in Egypt Tuesday. 

Tawfik died suddenly on Monday. He was 55. A cause of death has not been released.

One of the most prolific and popular authors in Egypt, Tawfik wrote more than 500 paperbacks and titles, which appealed strongly to young Arabs. His instant best-selling “Utopia” is described as a grim and bleak futuristic account of Egyptian society in the year 2023, when Israel builds its version of the Suez Canal and the Middle East oil reserves are rendered worthless by a newly invented U.S. super fuel.  

Living in a dog-eat-dog society

In Tawfik’s Egypt 2023, the middle class disappeared and the future looked more nightmarish than in ‘The Forgotten Planet’ by American writer Murray Leinster.

Breathtaking and suspenseful “Utopia,” which was set for the big screen, takes readers on a chilling journey beyond the gated communities of the northern coast, an isolated U.S. Marine-protected coastal colony created by the rich and famous, where the wealthy are insulated from the bleakness of life outside the walls.

“The middle class, in any society, plays the role of graphite rods in nuclear reactors: they slow down the reaction and, if it weren’t for them, the reactor would explode. A society without a middle class is a society primed for explosion,” explains Tawfik in his critically acclaimed Utopia.

One of his most famous quotes, “the end of despots is something so beautiful, but, alas, we often don’t live to see it,” is widely published in Arabic by young Egyptians on social media.

Master of Escapism

Called “Godfather” by his readers, Tawfik is credited with introducing young Arabs to works by American author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury, British author Sir Arthur Clarke and other sci-fi writers.

“Stories that lean on science or on technology appear as texts or information books to us in the Arab world, and we believe they won’t provide escapism. We have the imagination as a reader, but it’s just not yet developed enough to embrace science fiction and fantasy, or a plot that is weighted in gloom and horror,” he told a UAE newspaper.

Tawfik was one of the earliest Egyptian writers to specialize in horror, science fiction and fantasy, and his work included both illustrated books and novels, wrote the state-run Al-Ahram online in his obituary. His publishers say he is “the Arab world’s best-selling author of horror and fantasy genres.”

He was buried in his home city of Tanta in Western Egypt, where he was born in June, 1962. He is survived by his wife, a pulmonologist at Tanta medical college, and two children.