With a sec­ond Chi­nese bag­ging theHugo prize, ex­pec­ta­tions from the coun­try’s sci-fi writ­ers are ris­ing. Xinhua re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE -

On Sun­day, a sec­ond Chi­nese au­thor re­ceived a pres­ti­gious Hugo Award for science fic­tion, this time in the cat­e­gory of best nov­el­ette. Hao Jing­fang, au­thor of Fold­ing Bei­jing, won the award at the 74thWorld Science Fic­tion Con­ven­tion in the United States fol­low­ing Liu Cixin’s 2015 Best Novel award for The Three-Body Prob­lem, the first part of a tril­ogy.

Es­tab­lished in 1953, the Hugo Awards ac­knowl­edge the best works in science fic­tion or fan­tasy and, along with the Ne­bula Awards, are seen as the top prizes in the genre. They are named af­ter Hugo Gerns­back, founder of the Amer­i­can science fic­tion mag­a­zine Amaz­ing Sto­ries. The best nov­el­ette prize has pre­vi­ously been won by such ac­knowl­edged greats as Isaac Asi­mov, Ur­su­laK. Le Guin and Ge­orge R.R. Martin.

The news was re­ceived with great de­light at the Shang­hai Book Fair that closed yes­ter­day.

Fold­ing Bei­jing tells of a fa­ther’s strug­gle to send his daugh­ter to school in the Bei­jing of the fu­ture, al­lud­ing to the dif­fi­cul­ties that some Chi­nese par­ents face to­day to en­sure their chil­dren re­ceive a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Hao her­self grad­u­ated in physics from Ts­inghua Univer­sity in 2006.

“Chi­nese sci-fi is em­brac­ing un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties to­day,” said Liu Cixin at the Shang­hai fair.

Liu be­lieves China is wit­ness­ing the be­gin­ning of sci-fi “in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion” and the en­vi­ron­ment for sci-fi writ­ers has greatly improved from the pre­vi­ous decades.

Death’s End, the third part of Liu’s tril­ogy, is to be re­leased in the United States on Sept 20. The English trans­la­tion of the en­tire tril­ogy made its de­but at the Shang­hai fair on Sun­day.

“Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of The Three-Body Prob­lem, we no­ticed an in­crease in Chi­nese ma­te­rial in sci-fi all round the world,” said Yao Hai­jun, chief ed­i­tor of Science Fic­tion World, China’s lead­ing sci-fi mag­a­zine.

“It may also be as­so­ci­ated with the rise of the Chi­nese econ­omy in gen­eral.”

The Three-Body Prob­lem has sold more than 160,000 copies since it was pub­lished in Novem­ber 2014, and has been re­viewed in The New York Times andWall Street Jour­nal.

As to why the work has been Liu Cixin, so widely wel­comed in the West, Yao be­lieves the ex­cel­lence of the trans­la­tion is a ma­jor fac­tor.

“It has also set up a link be­tween China and the West, through which for­eign read­ers can at­tempt to hy­poth­e­size about the fu­ture of the coun­try,” he said. His viewis shared by Liu. “Science fic­tion is be­com­ing a key to the world’s un­der­stand­ing of China,” he says.

In China, de­mand for science fic­tion is on the rise. Au­di­ences have be­come in­ter­ested in such movies and many high-pro­file fig­ures from be­yond the lit­er­ary world — Li Yan­hong, head of in­ter­net gi­ant Baidu, and Lei Jun, co-founder of smart­phone maker Xiaomi — have heaped praise on Liu’s work.

De­spite these ac­co­lades and a cer­tain amount of fi­nan­cial suc­cess, science fic­tion in China is still in its in­fancy and in dire need of a nur­tur­ing sys­tem.

Liu re­calls at­tend­ing a writ- ers’ con­fer­ence in the US.

“Be­fore step­ping in the room, I thought it was a round­table meet­ing with twenty plus peo­ple,” he said.

But when the door opened, Liu was shocked to see thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants.

In con­trast, Chi­nese fans strug­gle to name 30 do­mes­tic science fic­tion writ­ers, among whom less than 10 are mak­ing a liv­ing from their craft.

“We need to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows more writ­ers to de­velop their tal­ent and the genre to pros­per,” Liu said.

To in­crease the num­ber of science fic­tion writ­ers in China, Bei­jing’s Fu­ture Af­fairs Ad­min­is­tra­tion, a startup that mainly deals with science fic­tion copy­right busi­ness, plans an in­cu­ba­tor for tal­ents.

“How to at­tract the young gen­er­a­tion is the big­gest chal­lenge for sci-fi,” said Bri­tish science fic­tion writer Ian McDon­ald at the Shang­hai fair.

Liu echoed his views, sug­gest­ing that it will be in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for science fic­tion writ­ers to write sat­is­fy­ing works in an era when peo­ple have in­stant ac­cess to the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy, such as the Five-hun­dred-me­ter Aper­ture Spher­i­cal ra­dio Te­le­scope, dark-mat­ter de­tec­tion satel­lites and so on.

At the same time, how­ever, Liu sees a new op­por­tu­nity in ev­ery de­vel­op­ment.

“New tech­nol­ogy would pro­vide a knowl­edge foun­da­tion for writ­ers.”

Chi­nese sci-fi is em­brac­ing un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties to­day. ...Science fic­tion is be­com­ing a key to the world’s un­der­stand­ing of China.” win­ner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel


A view of the Shang­hai Book Fair held at the Shang­hai Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter from Aug 18 to 23.

Liu Cixin spoke at a read­ers’ meet­ing that in­tro­duced Hao Jing­fang (right)’s sci-fi works in July in Bei­jing.

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