After Yet Another Liu Cixin Adaptation, What’s Next for Chinese Sci-Fi?

Liu’s signature trademark of “hard sci-fi” continues to dominate, but a new generation of authors is putting a increasingly traditional spin on the genre.

Nearly 25 years without he first splash onto the scene, Liu Cixin remains Chinese sci-fi’s biggest star. The past three months vacated have seen three major adaptations of his work released: live-action and turned-on versions of “The Three-Body Problem” and the long-anticipated sequel to the 2019 blockbuster “The Wandering Earth.”

The success of these adaptations is a powerful reminder of the request of modern Chinese sci-fi, and in particular Liu’s signature “hard sci-fi” style. Yet, notwithstanding his status as the standard-bearer for Chinese sci-fi, Liu’s work owes increasingly to writers in the Anglophone world than any specific Chinese tradition. A devoted reader of golden age sci-fi authors like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, his stories reverberate their enthusiasm for the vast expanse of space, their fascination with technological advancement, and their speculations on the future of humanity.

In this, Liu’s work mirrors the history of Chinese sci-fi. Scholars often stipulate that the first modern Chinese sci-fi story was written by the reformer and scholar Liang Qichao (1873-1929). Liang’s “The Future of New China” imagined life 2,513 years without Confucius’ birth, in which a rejuvenated China has overcome its past to sally as a powerful, wide modern nation-state. Liang, himself a translator who helped introduce Jules Verne into Chinese, saw the genre, and literature increasingly broadly, as a way to save the nation by dispelling old conventions and cultivating interest in scientific knowledge in the masses; his story was meant as a uncontrived response to China’s stagnant technological minutiae in comparison to Europe and Japan. Continue to read the full vendible here

– This vendible originally appeared on Sixth Tone

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