Tag Archives: science fiction

More on Chinese SF

Science Fiction Studies has a special issue on Chinese science fiction, with several articles available online. In “‘Great Wall Planet’: Introducting Chinese Science Fiction,” Yan Wu expands on some of the issues raised in this Global Times article:

What makes Chinese sf unique? In the wake of these historical frustrations and reforms, it is becoming possible to identify some of the features that are unique to Chinese science fiction. In my judgment, its most significant characteristic is the frequent exploration of themes of liberation and release from old cultural, political, and institutional systems. Another significant element is to be found in the reactions of Chinese writers to Western science and culture in their pursuit of themes of liberation. This raises a series of key questions: what is science? is science specifically Western or is it a universal human pursuit? how can writers integrate scientific and local cultural traditions into new and vital forms? These are compelling questions for Chinese authors—and for Chinese readers as well. A third key element in Chinese sf is its concern for the future of China and of Chinese culture, which is among the oldest surviving human cultures. Can it be revived in the postmodern scientific age? Finally, we might argue that, whereas Western sf is focused on the opportunities and losses of technoscientific development, Chinese sf, although it examines similar ideas, is more focused on anxieties about cultural decline and the potential for revitalization.

China’s SF comeback

I had no idea that science fiction was so scarce in China–the government cracked down on it in 1983, and it’s only recently re-emerging as a genre. An article in the Global Times describes the new Chinese SF, which differs significantly from the more triumphalist view of technology evidenced in the last genre boom of the 60s and 70s.

Many writers and scholars have said that living in today’s China sometimes feels surreal. In an earlier interview with the Global Times, Han said that sometimes writing news feels like science fiction… Yet the rapid development that is often referred to as a miracle has left many people feeling surreal and concerned, much like Han. Reality is what inspires him. Strange, dark, and sometimes horrific, Han’s novels are filled with violence, confusion and chaos. His style is often described as kafkaesque.