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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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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Ye Yonglie: An Obituary

On the 15thof May 2020, one of the forefathers of Chinese science fiction, Ye Yonglie, passed away.

Born in 1940 in Wenzhou (Zhejiang), Ye was a literary prodigy who published his first work at the age of 11, and his first book at the age of 19. After graduating in chemistry from Peking University, he continued his love of writing, and went on to create a wide range of short stories, journals and longer fictional works.


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Wandering Earth and China’s Sci-Fi Heritage

The Wandering Earth has been billed as a breakthrough for Chinese sci-fi. The film tells the story of our planet, doomed by the expanding Sun, being moved across space to a safer place. The Chinese heroes have to save the mission – and humanity – when Earth gets caught in Jupiter’s gravitational pull. Based on Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin’s short story of the same name, Wandering Earth has already grossed $600m (£464m) at the Chinese box office and was called China’s “giant leap into science fiction” by the Financial Times. It’s been bought by Netflix and will debut there on 30 April. But while this may be the first time many in the West have heard of “kehuan” – Chinese science fiction – Chinese cinema has a long sci-fi history, which has given support to scientific endeavour, offered escapism from harsh times and inspired generations of film-goers. So for Western audiences eager to plot the rise of the Chinese sci-fi movie, here are five films I think are worth renewed attention. Rest the rest on BBC Asia.


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Some Thoughts on The Wandering Earth

Hope you’ve all had a chance to watch The Wandering Earth by now. (If you haven’t, its on Netflix, and iQiyi). I’m ready to share my thoughts on it.

Did Wandering Earth live up to all the hype? I think it did! It was an excellent hard sci-fi movie. With very high production values, including the CG, a gripping but logically grounded plot line, which, whilst comparable to some of Hollywood’s disasterporn sci-fi, never loses its very Chinese heart.


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Forgotten Planets: Exploring China’s Long-Running Sci-Fi Film Tradition

In the 18th and 19th centuries, when exploration was a hobby of the British upper classes, you’d regularly hear about the discovery of Brand New Civilizations — as though indigenous people’s generational histories did not pop into existence until someone with a pith helmet and a camera stumbled into the clearing. I had my own “Dr. Livingstone Presuming” moment this week, when I began to read headlines in such stalwarts of the British press as the Financial Times (as well as digital newcomers like The Verge) stating that the just-released film adaptation of The Wandering Earthmarked China’s first tentative foray into sci-fi cinema, before scuttling back and forth between comparisons with contemporary American blockbusters and classic American sci-fi quicker than you can say “White Gaze Genesis.”


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On the Representation of Chinese Arts in Western Media

Recently numerous friends on social media have pointed out to me the shockingly underinformed or dubious ways in which the Chinese arts have been represented in the Western media. I have been impressed by your astuteness and I thank you for your kindness.


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The Path to Freedom

written by Tang Fei, translated by Xueting Christine Ni

“Imagining the worst tomorrow makes me happy.
The gloom of the future lights my path.”


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“The Chinese Don’t Do Sci-Fi?!” A Reading List

As so many of you have asked for reading lists or further reading after my “The Chinese Don’t Do Sci-Fi?!” talk and again at the subsequent discussion panel, I’m publishing the list here, to share with you all.


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