There is currently an explosion of creativity, growing out of China’s flourishing internet literature sites, which I have found myself happily getting lost in, as a researcher and a reader. Trying to stay within the lines of my professional interest, I found myself mainly looking into the multitude of nascent fantasy genres, but the segregation between this realm and my sources for science fiction, has not escaped me.
Posted in Commentary, Culture, Translation
When we, for reasons best left to the mists of time, ended up manning China’s Worldcon Bid table back in 2014, we did find ourselves repeating the line that, if you ever want to experience the feeling of landing on a hospitable alien world, come to China. This year, WorldCon, that great traveling show of Sci-Fi Nerdery, will make its home at Chengdu’s Science (And Science Fiction) Museum. This feels extra special for me, not only because it will be held in my birth country, but because it will be here for the very first time in its 80+ years of history. It will mean hundreds of geeks from across the world converging on this town which seems to be modelling itself on a sci-fi utopia, with its groundbreaking architecture and commitment to green living. However, I envision some culture clash.
Posted in Commentary, Culture
Having explored in the first three articles of this mini-series, deadly demons, friendly fiends, gorgeous ghouls and saucy spooks in Chinese supernatural lore, I come to the mythical monsters.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, creatures, culture, horror, monsters, mythical, myths, supernatural
A while ago, I was given this beautiful old cabinet originally used for holding Traditional Chinese Medicines, so that I can store all the varieties of my loose leaf tea collection. Each of these many rows of small draws have the names of a herb carved onto it. Before I put my leaves into it, I thought it would be interesting to find out a little about each of these herbs.
Posted in Culture and tagged cabinet, china, Chinese, culture, herbs, medicine, TCM, tea, traditional medicine
I have always maintained that diverse writers must be included in the main discourse of subject matters, rather than seconded into special interest groups, thus making them feel like oddities, rather than fully part of the community. It was with this in mind that I was so pleased to be invited to FanfiAddict’s author livestream on How SFF is Changing, which put me on a panel with a wonderful selection of authors from very different backgrounds, all writing about and working in different styles, content and traditions. There were a few points in the discussion I did not get to address at the time, or may not have been concise on, and thought I would take the opportunity to expand on them here.
Posted in Commentary, Culture and tagged Asian, china, commentary, diversity, fantasy, fiction, literature, livestream, mythology, representation, SFF
I love speaking at conventions. This whole career as a sinologist started with talks to anime crowds about the films, foods, myth and music of China. In the midst of the buzz around my upcoming collection, Sinophagia, I was excited to be included on the panel of “Horror and Identity” as part of this year’s Flight of Foundry, especially with such a diverse collection of fellow guests to talk about the genre, and how our lived experiences and outlooks informed it.
Posted in Culture, Translation and tagged china, Chinese, fiction, genre, horror, identity, literature, SFF, translation
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article highlighting some of China’s female science fiction writers . It is a well-known fact that women in the SF community have been heavily overlooked in China, where a hard-science-heavy tradition took root in the genre’s first ‘golden age’ of the 1950s, which in itself was a continuation of a nation-building role for sci-fi that could be traced all the way back to the beginning of the century. Although women have been active contributors to the genre since at least the 1970s, with writers such as Zhang Jing and Ji Wei, their inclination, or perceived inclination to write ‘soft science fiction’, meant they have not been as visible as male writers in previous eras. In the twenty-first century however, kēhuàn (Hanyu for sci-fi) has diversified as a genre, branching off into more character driven fiction, which integrates science with story, shifting away from works that centrally focused on science theory or concepts.
Posted in Commentary, Culture, Translation and tagged china, Chinese, culture, equality, feminism, fiction, literature, science fiction, SF, SFF, women's writing
Spring Festival planning actually starts as Christmas ends. That sad moment of shoving carefully boxed Christmas trees and garlands in the loft offset with bringing down another box, labelled “CNY DECS”. This box isn’t opened up immediately though, there’s a lot of real life things that need to happen, including cleaning and writing the inevitable articles for media who suddenly remember Chinese people exist. The box sits in a corner for a few weeks, saving us the effort of having to head to the loft a second time, but also taking the edge off the January blues, until we open it on Xiaonian.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, culture, customs, Spring Festival, tradition
Beyond “Made in China” being stamped on almost every toy under the tree, you wouldn’t really consider the impact of Christmas as a festival in China, indeed my childhood was almost entirely Christmas-free.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, christmas, culture, customs, festival, tradition, winter
The end of this week sees China’s second biggest traditional festival. 中秋节 Zhōngqiū Jié, or in English, Middle Autumn Festival. You may also hear it referred to as Moon, or mooncake Festival. Veneration of the moon goes back a long way in Chinese history, with offerings of food, fruits and wine on household altars, moon appreciation rituals, and of course, moon cakes (月饼 yuèbing). It is of course this foody aspect of the festival that has truly gone global in the 21st century.
Posted in Culture and tagged cakes, china, Chinese, cuisine, dessert, food, history, mid-autumn festival, moon cakes, Moon Festival