Telling the China Story: The Rise and Riseof Chinese Science Fiction
“Science fictionis as rare as unicorn horns, which shows in a way the intellectual poverty ofour times”, wrote Lu Xun, one of China’s most towering and revered literaryfigures, writing about science fiction literature in China in his preface tohis 1903 translation of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.
"科幻小说像独角兽的角一样稀有，在某种程度上反映了我们这个时代的知识贫乏," 中国最杰出、最受尊敬的文学家之一鲁迅在1903年翻译儒勒 •凡尔纳的《从地球到月球》的序言中写道。（原文为“于科学小说，乃如麟角。智识荒隘，此实一端”）
The beginnings of modern Chinese sciencefiction first took root during the period of the Late Qing Dynasty, not justthrough translations of western science fiction but also with Chinese authorssuch as the scholar and reformist, Liang Qichao’s 1902 futuristic tale,TheFuture of New China, which was set in 1962 and depicted a world in whichShanghai hosts the World’s Fair, and a geopolitically dominant China hasdeveloped a multi-party system and westerners study Chinese in hopes ofimproving their life. The other significant science fiction story that isconsidered by many to be ‘Chinas first true science fiction story’ was Colonyof the Moon by an anonymous author, known only by his pseudonym, HuangjiangDiaosou. The purpose of all these stories of those times was simple, topopularise science and spark imagination and critical thinking.
Once again, it wasn’t till years later – inthe late 1970s – that science fiction would flower again in China. a large bodyof SF emerged during this period, most notably Ye Yonglie’s Little Know-It-allTravels the Future, archaeologist and anthropologist Tong Enzheng’s Death Ray on a Coral Island and ZhengWenguang’sFlying to Sagittarius (also translated as Forward Sagittarius).
It was only to be in the early 1990s whenChinese science fiction would enter an uninterrupted golden age, and leadingthe charge would be writers: Wang Jiankang, Han Song and Liu Cixin, the authorof The Three-Body Problem, the novel that was instrumental in opening thefloodgates of Chinese SF to the English-speaking (and reading) world and thewriter of The Wandering Earth, on which the film billed as China’s breakoutsci-fi blockbuster is based on. A name most often added to this list is that ofHe Xi, the pseudonym of an as-yet-anonymous author, to make it the ‘Big 4’ of Chinese science fiction.
As the writer Chen Quifan said in a speechat the eighth Chinese Nebula Awards in November 2017, saying that one of thepurpose of Chinese science fiction was to, “advance the establishment of thepower of the international spread of the culture of socialism with Chinesecharacteristics, in order to tell the China story.”
Cixin Liu's 'Remembrance of Earth’s Past'trilogy are the greatest sci-fi books I've ever read. I still remember when Ipicked the first volume and than patiently waited for a very long time fortranslations of the next books to arrive. The wait was well worth it. Hemanages to put his characters into seemingly insurmountable situations and itfeels like he won't be able to write his way out of them but somehow he managesto achieve the impossible. His world-building skills are second to none and heintroduced so many novel and interesting technologies into his universe.
刘慈欣的《地球往事》三部曲是我读过的最伟大的科幻小说， 我仍然记得当我看完第一部，然后耐心等待下一部翻译出版时候的心情， 等待相当煎熬，但等待是值得的。他常常把他的角色放在看似不可逾越的高度上，我们读者感觉不知道下一步该怎么写，但不知何故他总是能在不可能中找到可能，他构建世界的技巧绝对首屈一指，能将许多新奇有趣的科技融入进他笔下的世界。
I’ve been told it gets better after thefirst book, but why would I subject myself to another book after my experienceof the first?
Anyway, to each their own, but as a hugesci-fi fan, I generally love the Hugo winners and nominees. The Chinese sci-fithat’s been nominated has all left me cold.
I was not a huge fan of the first bookeither but saw the potential. Second book, The Dark Forest, is the greatest ofthe three (IMO anyway). Third book isalso amazing. Definitely 'endure' reading through the first one and then you'llbe rewarded with 2nd and 3rd.
我也不是第一部的超级粉丝，但我看到了它的潜力， 第二部《黑暗森林》是三部中最伟大的一部 (至少在我看来是这样)， 第三部也很棒， 一定要坚持读完第一部，然后你会得到第二部和第三部的奖励。
The game-theoretic aspects of the book, onthe other hand, and the final comeback of aforementioned nerd, are something Ilike to point out when summarizing this book.
I enjoyed that part, but he could have doneit in a 20 page short story.
I'm not sure if Liu Cixin is emblematic ofChinese science fiction, but the services of a more aggressive editor seem tobe missing. Imho, it would have vastly improved the series, and possibly cut itdown to a single volume.
You described like 90% of Chinesewebnovels.
I still read some of them from time totime, but they’re all basically the same.
What's a webnovel? Fanfiction? Or like anonline Japanese visual novel?
Guessing, but maybe an original novelpublished freely on the web? That’s what the name appears to imply.
Yep, it's novels published online in achapter by chapter format. You'll also find translations of some of them, butbeware that some sites provide automatic translations, which are naturally abit wonky. Here's an example site,
> I couldn’t stand the first book ofthis series. Interminable, I never built any empathy for any of the characters.
Maybe the culture in China is different andperhaps filters out the genuinely curious for those who produce definitiveresults? I'm only asking, not claiming.