An Exploration of Science Fiction from China #SciFiSunday

Game of Thrones adapters Benioff and Weiss are bringing their extraordinary skill at writing strong beginnings, complex middles, and rewarding endings to the globally successful science fiction series, The Three-Body Problem. Written by Liu Cixin, the book is the first in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. While the series is currently the most well-known science fiction series from China,  Cixin’s work is the tip of the iceberg. Here’s more from Xia Jia at Tor:

After the lull imposed by the Cultural Revolution, the passion for building a modern nation state reignited in 1978. Ye Yonglie’s Little Smart Roaming the Future (published August 1978), a thin volume filled with enticing visions of a future city seen through the eyes of a child, heralded a new wave of science fiction in China with its initial print run of 1.5 million copies. Paradoxically, as China actually modernized with the reforms of the Deng Xiaoping era, these enthusiastic dreams of the future gradually disappeared from Chinese science fiction. Readers and writers seemed to fall out of romantic, idealistic utopias and back into reality.

In 1987, Ye Yonglie published a short story called “Cold Dream at Dawn.” On a cold winter night in Shanghai, the protagonist has trouble falling asleep in his unheated home. A series of grand science fictional dreams fills his mind: geothermal heating, artificial suns, “reversing the South and North Poles,” even “covering Shanghai with a hot house glass dome.” However, reality intrudes in the form of concerns about whether the proposed projects would be approved, how to acquire the necessary materials and energy, potential international conflicts, and so forth—every vision ends up being rejected as unfeasible. “A thousand miles separate the lovers named Reality and Fantasy!” The distance and the gap, one surmises, demonstrate the anxiety and discomfort of the Chinese waking up from the fantasy of Communism.

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