Of White Tea and Wuhuang

This year in Britain, summer arrived with a fiery flourish, got chased away by the rain and is now hiding, hesitant to emerge again. A great way to enhance the vibe of this lovely season amidst intermittently grey skies, gusts of wind and rain, is to drink white tea.


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Chinese Science Fiction: Net v.s Core

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.


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Space Myths Part II: China’s Scientific Future and Mythical Past

China is currently well into its age of space exploration. With the launch and landing of its Mars exploration programme Tienwen1 earlier in the year, and the docking of its first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou12, this new frontier is at not only the forefront of China’s consciousness, but the world’s. A glance at the names of China’s space projects, and you’ll see that rather than paying tribute to the proletariat struggle, as programs did in the 1960s and 1970s, the country is now invoking its ancient scholars and scientists who mapped out the stars, and its mystical beings whom they thought lived in the skies. In the second part of this two-parter, I look at China’s Mars program, latest satellite launch facilities and Dark Matter exploration.


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Space Myths Part I: How China is Taking its Mythos to the Stars

China is currently well into its age of space exploration. With the launch and landing of its Mars exploration programme Tienwen1 earlier in the year, and the docking of its first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou12, this new frontier is at not only the forefront of China’s consciousness, but the world’s. A glance at the names of China’s space projects, and you’ll see that rather than paying tribute to the proletariat struggle, as programs did in the 1960s and 1970s, the country is now invoking its ancient scholars and scientists who mapped out the stars, and its mystical beings whom they thought lived in the skies. In part one of this series, I look at China’s manned space programme, space station and lunar exploration programme.


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Congee Concepts

I like congee. When my western friends reach for pizza or tomato soup as comfort foods, I do find myself missing that fragrant rice porridge with its accompanying bowls of tasting toppings. It seems I am not alone.  I’ve been seeing a lot of social media and articles discussing this south-east Asian dish. They mainly focus on it being the secret of a healthy life, and a pick-me-up when you’re ill. Whilst all of this is true, I can’t help but feel that these representations are somewhat missing the main point, and perpetuating some misperceptions. The Chinese, for one, eat congee as an everyday staple, some even consider a delicious treat. With family roots across central, northern and southern China, I have grown up with a variety of experiences of the 粥zhou (Mandarin for congee).


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Taiping Hou Kui (Nothing But Tea)

As there was so much interest and enthusiasm surrounding the tea panel I appeared on at this year’s EasterCon21, I’m publishing a series of mini reviews on the spring teas I’m drinking this year, provided by the lovely NothingButTea.


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The Untamed: Why Here? Why Now?

Though I have very much appreciated The Untamed and Modao Zushi, and have written about both the works, and the phenomena of their success, I have generally avoided being drawn into the fandoms, (though there’s nothing wrong with enthusiastic love for a show) or dampening any gushiness with my cultural critique. However, I knew that I would invariably be talking about it professionally at some point, as I ended up doing on a panel discussing the show at 2021’s Eastercon, ConFusion2021, along with two enthusiastic fanfic writers, and a moderator who turned out far more interested in joining in the discussion than facilitating it.


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The Pandemic and SFF: Thoughts on the Eastercon21 Panel

Despite Covid restrictions, I returned this year to convention life, at least virtually, as a guest at EasterCon, and in an event driven to digital by a global pandemic, it couldn’t have been more appropriate to talk about how all this has affected science fiction and fantasy works. The hour-long panel featured myself, along with the editor and authors of New Con Press. There was a lot to talk about in the one-hour slot, and with so many of us having lived near hermit like existences for the last few months, personal take-aways from lockdown becoming a central topic for some of the more loquacious guests, and there were so many points that were left unexplored.


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Half the Universe: Female Writers of Chinese Science Fiction

Through a year of quarantines and lockdowns throughout the world, many women are finding that hard won progress in their emancipation has somewhat diminished. Their roles regressed to the main caregiver, or manager of the house, regardless of their other responsibilities. On this year’s International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember the capabilities and achievements women have pushed forward with, both in spite of gender stereotypes and male bias, and in light of freedoms won. I have recently researched China’s net novelists, and was amazed at the creative output of women who were writing whilst also holding down full time jobs, and labouring under the yoke of domestic responsibility. Science fiction is another realm still primarily considered to be the domain of men, where women’s contribution is often overlooked, especially in China.


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The Hesuipian

As Chinese New Year draws close, it’s worth spotlighting a relatively recent tradition, the ‘Hesuipian’, literally, “film to celebrate the birth of a new year”, the New Year Movie, which has now become a tradition of four decades.


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