Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang，Kitten Wang
In April of 2017, the Hugo Awards, long considered the Nobel Prize of the sci-fi world, included The Three-Body Problem: Death’s End in its nominations. This is the second time The Three-Body Problem series has been nominated, after it first won a Hugo Award in the novel category in 2015, proving that author Liu Cixin’s popularity is increasing overseas.
The Three-Body Problem: Death’s End continued the story from the first two books. In a war with the Three-Body culture, humans realized the dark truth about the universe. While the civilization on Earth thought it knew everything about survival and competition, in fact, it wasn’t even a player in the game. Humans have not seen real interstellar wars, because that type of war and the weapons used are beyond human imagination. The day humans witness the battlefield is the day humans perish. The trilogy’s ending ignited heated discussions about sociology of the universe, light speed, and dimension.
When we look at the origin of sci-fi in China, famous scholars Liang Qichao and a young Lu Xun both translated Jules Verne’s sci-fi writing. By now, sci-fi in China has developed for half a century. While sci-fi creativity was curbed from 1902 to 1979, its progress has not stopped. Today’s Chinese sci-fi is growing rapidly after a subjective change: There is the founding of the magazine Sci-fi World, and its growth to a sci-fi magazine with the world’s largest circulation by the 1990s, and the emergence of many excellent Chinese sci-fi writers.
Chen Yilu is representative of the new crop of sci-fi writers in China. As the award winner for the World Chinese Science Fiction Association, she wrote of an astounding futuristic world in her novel, God’s Equalizer, using a grand and meticulous narrative structure. In 2624, after a nuclear war, the Earth is divided into 19 districts. The most polluted Fifth District is marked as a “wasted city,” it is where vampiric mutants and robotic monsters roam, and it is where the poorest humans live. The people here always leave a light on before they leave their homes, this way, even if they were killed, their children would not be lost in the dark. By the year 3000, a 15-year-old youth from this area will become an Earth-changing hero.
Meanwhile, Eocene, a book by Su Yu, a writer from the born-in-the-90s generation, brought along a trend in aesthetic sci-fi writing.The style broke through the traditional narrative structure and set all of the novel’s stories at an uniform time, “10 thousand of 10 thousand years,” but with different locations, characters, and plotlines for each story.The stories are independent yet related, making the reader marvel that a sci-fi story could be written this way. The writing is simple, pure, and features elements of traditional Chinese literature, a perfect antidote to today’s frenzied society.
In 2016, a short story titled Folded Beijing by female Chinese writer Hao Jingfang won the Best Short Story Award at the 74th Hugos, which is another honor for Chinese sci-fi writing after The Three-Body Problem. In the story, an extreme scenario was imagined: the city of Beijing, in an unknown time, had three dimensions where different people populated. Within each dimension, there were 48 periods which were assigned to different groups of people. In order to give the best life to their families, people living in these dimensions risked their lives to deliver letters to other dimensions. The Beijing depicted in the story was like “a city folded by a Transformer,” yet still held onto real human joy and pain.
In the coming years, more sci-fi fans worldwide will fall in love with Chinese sci-fi’s unique appeal, and more Chinese sci-fi works of excellent quality are on the way.