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
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
There’s something a little odd about using family terms to refer to romantic relationships, but with the current popularity of Tencent’s hit show Nothing But You, about a young tennis player developing feelings for his older female manager, everyone seems to be talking about 姐弟恋, jiedi lian (Older Sister/Younger Brother Romance). Even the regular handful of Anglophone China watchers are now talking about the phenomenon of older women dating younger men, and the ‘normalisation’ of it in Chinese media. Whilst the sub-genre has proliferated over the last few years (some of the most popular include Mango TV’s A Rational life and IQiyi’s Dr Appledog’s Time, both released in 2021), shows about career-oriented women dating younger men have in fact, been a thing in contemporary Chinese storytelling since at least the middle of the last decade.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, feminism, gender, marriage, relationship, romance, SFF, society, sub-genre
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
I had the pleasure of being invited, along with three other wonderful guests, to be part of the Chinese Science Fiction in The Digital Age series of talks and forums held by the Hong Kong Metropolitan University. It was well received, with many enthusiastic questions from the students. And I have translated my short talk into English for Anglophone readers who are interested in the topic.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, digital, digital age, fiction, global, panel, publishing, Sci-Fi, science fiction, SF, talk
A type of Cdrama and film that has been very popular over the last decade, is the Tang Dynasty mystery, tales of detection, court intrigue and crime solving adapted from novels by well-known writers of the 21st century, yet set in ancient China. One reason for the current focus on Tang Dynasty culture, is that China is once again at an economic and cultural peak, recalling its greatest gold age in history. One key figure that immortalised this perfect combination of the Tang setting and tale of mystery, is Di Renjie.
Posted in Commentary, Culture and tagged china, Chinese, crime fiction, culture, detective fiction, Di Renjie, fiction, film, Gong An, Judge Dee, novels, Robert Van Gulik
On July the 3rd 2022, renowned writer Ni Kuang, passed away, aged 87. He was one of the most popular modern classic Sinophone writers.
Posted in Commentary and tagged books, Chinese, culture, fiction, Ni Kuang, novel, orbituary, science fiction, Sinophone, Wisely, writer, writing, Wuxia
There is something special about seeing yourself on the big screen, and if not yourself, then someone who you can see yourself as, or recognise yourself in. This is one reason why Pixar’s Turning Red has been such a big thing, coming out at a time when it looked as though the studio would sooner do another movie following Bugs’ Lives, than putting an East-Asian in the protagonists driving seat.
Now, I’ve never been a ‘Disney kid’, so I was still cautious as I sat down to watch the film, having been stung twice by the mouse’s Mulan. But… I was charmed, enthralled, and thoroughly entertained by the story, and of course, characters who looked like me.
Posted in Commentary and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, deity, Disney, film, panda, Pixar, Turning Red
As a culture writer, a Chinese person, and a comics nerd, I’ve had a deep interest in the character of Shang-Chi, and the way he has been used over the last half century. I’ve written about him in the build up to Marvel’s first Asian led movie, but now that I have seen the film, and had a chance to really digest it, I’ve got a lot to discuss.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, comics, culture, film, Ghost Month, kungfu, Mandarin, Marvel, MCU, reaction, Shang-chi, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, wushu, Wuxia