Other re­al­i­ties and other uni­verses ma­te­ri­al­ize at lit­er­ary week

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COVER STORY - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai

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.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Science fic­tion is fast gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity among Chi­nese read­ers.

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