Science fiction’s new golden age in China, what it says about social evolution and the future, and the stories writers want world to see
From the South China Morning Post:
The science-fiction genre in China was little known before Liu Cixin was honoured with the Hugo Award for best novel in 2015 for The Three-Body Problem. The first book in Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, it tells of an alien invasion during the Cultural Revolution and has sold more than a million copies in China alone. The English translation was recommended by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to members of his book club, and praised by former US president Barack Obama as “wildly imaginative, really interesting”.
Last year, Liu’s compatriot Hao Jingfang earned a Hugo Award for Folding Beijing, in which the city is divided into zones, each with a different number of hours in the day.
Liu has been nominated for another Hugo Award this year, for the final episode in his trilogy, Death’s End.
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The two winning books are now being adapted for the big screen in China, marking a turning point for Chinese sci-fi and potentially expanding the genre’s exposure globally.
Some 104 original sci-fi titles were published in China in 2016, compared to 75 the previous year, and 461 novelettes were released last year.
Author Regina Wang Kanyu, 27, a long-time sci-fi fan, has witnessed its growth in recent years. “It’s the golden age of Chinese science fiction,” she says.
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Last month, writers Regina Wang, Wang Yao and Hao Jingfang attended Melon Hong Kong, the city’s first science-fiction conference to bring together Chinese and Western writers.
“It’s a market miracle,” says Wang Yao, who goes by the pen name Xia Jia. “Ten years ago [when I started writing], we could never have imagined that these opportunities would be available,” she says, referring to the translation of Chinese sci-fi books and film adaptions.
It’s not the first golden age of sci-fi in China, though. Wang Yao says that was between 1978 and 1983 during reforms initiated by late Deng Xiaoping. “It was thought that science fiction could cultivate a scientific spirit, and the authorities assigned authors to write books in the genre,” says Wang.
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Although investors are eyeing sci-fi’s entertainment industry potential, the literature itself is not so highly valued. “The payment writers receive for fiction writing is very small. I also write for fashion magazines, which pay a lot more,” says Regina Wang. Since it is impossible to make ends meet writing sci-fi, most authors do it simply as a hobby.
Link to the rest at South China Morning Post