Science Fiction in China

China Science and Technology Museum
China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing

The global profile of Chinese science fiction is on the rise: Liu Cixin’s trilogy Three-Body is a surprise hit among Chinese audiences, and this month’s issue of Pathlight, an English-language literary magazine based in Beijing, focuses on science fiction.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Review of Books caught up with young author Fei Dao to discuss the state of Chinese science fiction, its political role and the importance of good stories for enhancing science literacy and, in Fei Dao’s words, preserving “a curiosity about the future.” You can read their excellent interview here: http://goo.gl/J8lhc.

Dao discusses how adults interested in science fiction in China often face charges of being “immature and unrealistic,” a sentiment that seems to be waning in the US as corporations and institutions (hello from CSI!) embrace science fiction (and design fiction) as a productive way of thinking creatively and critically about the future, and engaging in scenario planning. But this idea about the frivolity of science fiction still lingers – try telling a few people you’re going to ComiCon this year and you’ll still probably hear a few nervous laughs or subtly insulting responses.

Most surprising fact: Chinese science fiction dates back over 100 years, to 1902, according to Dao.

Takeaway: This interview with Dao provides a much-needed reminder to all of us that important, compelling science fiction is being written outside of the English-speaking world.

 

Image courtesy of maltman23, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

 

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