Other realities and other universes materialize at literary week
Science fiction was featured at this year’s International Literary Week, a key part of the annual Shanghai Book Fair.
Thirty-one authors and scholars from home and abroad took part in the festival, signing books, giving speeches and participating in discussion panels on the literary genre which is gaining more popularity in China.
Ye Xin, a deputy chairman of the China Writers’ Association, said that a number of Chinese authors have gained international recognition in science fiction writing in recent years.
During the Literary Week, Chinese author Chen Qiufan spoke about his experiences in participating in the annual Worldcon, which is organized by the World Science Fiction Society, since 1939.
“I saw how people could be much more passionate about the fantasy world, such as the one that was created by George RR Martin, than the real world,” he said.
Chen said that to regard the world we live in as the one and only reality is to dispel and belittle any other possibilities of reality and values.
“We seem to forget reality is a plural noun and there are innumerous parallel universes out there. Science fiction and fantasy allows people to enter a common reality and share their emotions. There is so much power and magic in here,” he said.
Today’s world is filled with changes and uncertainty and everyone is constantly worried about whether his or her reality will be part of the future, added Chen.
“With the power of words and imaginations, we can fill the gaps between different realities, pacify fears and worries, and inspire emotional resonance in this age of technology. Literature is not forgotten. On the contrary, it will glow and bloom to be a guiding star. It’s time to redefine the realities,” he said.
Chinese author Curtis Chen, who recently had the Chinese edition of his novel Waypoint Kangaroo published by CITIC Press, spoke about his childhood days in Taiwan when he watched shows like Bewitched and Star Trek on television. He became more immersed in the world of fantasy and science fiction when he moved to the United States aged 5.
He began writing science fiction in high school and it was only 20 years later that he got his works published. Waypoint Kangaroo, Chen’s first published novel, was only available in the US a few years ago.
As Chen has been fascinated with the Japanese cartoon series Doraemon since his childhood, he created a spy nicknamed Kangaroo who possesses an extra-dimensional pouch that allows him to store and retrieve items. During a vacation, Kangaroo is roped into the investigation of a double murder on the passenger liner to Mars.
The book was lauded as “an auspicious start for the author and his wisecracking series” on Publishers Weekly. Kangaroo Too was published earlier this year and was hailed to be “as smart and sassy as its title character” on Publishers Weekly.
Another author present at the International Literary Week was Rysa Walker, who just had her first novel Timebound published in Chinese by Zhejiang Literature and Art Press. She gave a speech at Shanghai Library on Aug 20. The novel was originally titled Time’s Twisted Arrow.
Published in 2012, Timebound won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. The book has since developed into The Chronos Files series which consists of three novels and three novellas.
Timebound is about a teenage girl who discovers that her grandmother is a time-traveling historian from the future. The latter sends the teenager back to 1893 to stop her grandfather from altering the course of history.
Walker noted that time travel is the most popular theme in fantasy stories in China where a number of time-traveling novels have gained large numbers of fans. Many novels have also been turned into TV series and movies.
Science fiction is fast gaining popularity among Chinese readers.