Liu's a true master of sci-fi (and definitely a genius) and these books are my favorite fiction books of all time. After I finished the last book, I was depressed because I realized that I'm not going to read something this great again for a very long time. They're also the first Chinese sci-fi books I've ever read. Since then, I read the rest of Liu's books (including the Ball Lightning which came out last year).
Can't recommend these books highly enough but beware that it might make subsequent sci-fi books less enjoyable since you'll be judging them by a different yardstick. I tried to read so many sci-fi books since (I usually buy various award winning books since it's a decent filter) but I rarely finish them because they never capture my attention (and imagination) like Liu's books.
I’ve been told it gets better after the first book, but why would I subject myself to another book after my experience of the first?
Anyway, to each their own, but as a huge sci-fi fan, I generally love the Hugo winners and nominees. The Chinese sci-fi that’s been nominated has all left me cold.
I was not a huge fan of the first book either but saw the potential. Second book, The Dark Forest, is the greatest of the three (IMO anyway). Third book is also amazing. Definitely 'endure' reading through the first one and then you'll be rewarded with 2nd and 3rd.
The result of granting a nerd all the resources of the Earth at his disposal. He promptly uses it to find the perfect waifu and seduces her in his idyllic European villa.
That's not Sci-Fi; That's a power fantasy as old as time.
The game-theoretic aspects of the book, on the other hand, and the final comeback of aforementioned nerd, are something I like to point out when summarizing this book.
I'm not sure if Liu Cixin is emblematic of Chinese science fiction, but the services of a more aggressive editor seem to be missing. Imho, it would have vastly improved the series, and possibly cut it down to a single volume.
And then of course everybody does operate under those principles and feel compelled to act irrationally as a result.
Because resources are limited the only solution is to blow up almost all of the resources to make sure nobody else gets them. The idea that there might be natural limits (even basic thermodynamic ones) to growth apparently never occurs to the author. It's kind of shocking how casual some unnamed alien species is about literally destroying the universe.
I still read some of them from time to time, but theyre all basically the same.
Interesting to see how that translates to actual hard-copy books as well.
Yes, if by "old" you mean "dumb".
I couldn't finish this insufferably cringe-worthy book. Sorry.
I didn't entirely have this problem (though it was more difficult), but I had a problem with some of the plot points. Namely, (minor spoiler) scientists killing themselves when science did something they couldn't explain. I just couldn't buy that people who dedicate their lives to discovery would do that. I mean, the double slit experiment didn't cause such problems. It was just too unbelievable to me.
This was more of "science turned into magic", experiments started to produce arbitrary nonsense, though I don't remember if they realized the cause at the time. That said, I found it weak and weird too; I'd expect those scientists to try much harder before giving up.
That would normally stimulate scientists into trying to find the pattern of "arbitrary". If it's completely random, that's a discovery in itself. If it has a pattern, then the pattern becomes a subject of experiments and speculative models, even if "weird". It's roughly comparable to the observer seemingly affecting the results of quantum experiments.
Scientists rarely quit or get bored just because they have no clear-cut explanation. Most of them like puzzles, even tricky ones more.
Maybe the culture in China is different and perhaps filters out the genuinely curious for those who produce definitive results? I'm only asking, not claiming.
I couldn't understand the appeal or relate to them at all. That said, I'm glad they exist, it's refreshing after so much copy-cat blandness in today's publishing.
Meanwhile, I'm really bummed that the last book of the Expanse got delayed 4 months. I don't know how they're going to wrap up the story line in only one more book.
Mind, I'm getting rather jaded with many series and trilogies, though I also want to see how the Expanse finishes up. A trilogy seems to have become the current expectation (from publishers perhaps?) where too often just a book or two would fit the story much better.
Slow intros are dangerous for reader retention.
That said, I thought the story was fantastic, huge, and believable through details. I loved the Cultural Revolution backdrop in the first book, the second book was more action packed than the first.
the book isn't a dramatic book - it doesn't follow a hero's journey or the typical greek style storytelling trope. It's more like a description of what happened. But i like that - the sci-fi elements described a pretty fantastical, concepts are fresh and original (however you can argue that it has been done before?!).
I feel that the book is bifurcated amongst readers who read for literary quality vs conceptual quality.
Yup. I'm strongly in the latter camp (as I'm fond of saying, if I wanted to read character development, I'd pick up literally any other genre - everything nowadays is about people and their emotional dramas; I like my sci-fi when it's about ideas). The whole Trilogy is pretty dense in concepts, including some insanely beautiful ideas, while also not venturing too far outside established science. I liked in particular how thinking of various... factions (to not spoiler too much) is built around lack of FTL in the books' universe.
I don’t need my sci-fi to be literature, but I need the story to move every ten or twenty pages, or characters I care about. Character development is an alternative to plot development, basically, but to go along side your interesting science bits, you have to give me at least one of:
B) characters who I care at least slightly about
C) a plot that moves faster than your average snail
The Three Body Problem had none of the above. Although the last 40 or so pages was at least a perfectly good short story in its own right.
> I can look down my nose at David Weber’s wooden and cringeworthy characters and dialog
"Truer words have never been spoken." ;).
I mostly skip the soldier narratives after the first few books taught me they were all going to become either red-shirts or over the top permanent sycophants within 10 pages.
But man, Safehold has far and away the best set up for “what if I knew everything about the history of militaries and military technology and wanted to conquer the world circa 1200 A.D. with it” I’ve ever seen. So satisfying ;)
I’ve actually recommended people who can’t abide military sci-fi or David Weber in general just read the first 50 pages of the first book.
Surprisingly many of these people go on to read the whole series.
I've never been able to explain as succinctly how I can enjoy both Asimov and Bacigalupi.
The Asimovian characters-as-plot-revealers isn't for everyone, but he does an entrancing job.
I also took issue with the implicit assumption that two civilizations cooperating would develop no faster than a single civilization. Or, another way, that all civilizations would climb the same technology ladder the same way.
On Earth, historical competition between nation-states has suggested a very different reality.
I don't remember that assumption; I felt the implicit assumption was that development of any civilization can experience unpredictable rapid acceleration, so even if two civilizations cooperated, it doesn't help them much against others out there.
> Or, another way, that all civilizations would climb the same technology ladder the same way.
That I think was explicitly denied in the basic axioms of Dark Forest theory - again, civilization's technological level can jump unpredictably.
> historical competition between nation-states has suggested a very different reality
The core axiom of Dark Forest theory is that lack of FTL makes communication delays be of the same length as periods of possible technological leap-aheads, which makes cooperation unlikely and contact too dangerous. On the scale of our planet, that never applied. Communications between civilizations that knew about each other were on the order of months, and technological developments tended to make that delay shorter.
Dark Forest translated to Earth would be as if I noticed your sail ships, sent you a hello from my steam civilization, only to get preemptively hit by an ICBM you've managed to build in 200 years it took for my message to reach you.
Maybe there was more historical politics in this book than I noticed; I'm not well versed on history of China, and thus lack necessary context. I'd love to learn more, if that is so.
From memory, the basic tenant of dark forest theory was 'In the time it takes to communicate, you could become more powerful than me.'
My point is that if two+ interacting (I don't believe cooperation is strictly necessary) civilizations make technological progress at an exponentially faster rate than a single civilization, then they are highly unlikely to be outclassed.
Furthermore, this provides a disincentive (where 3BP notes none) to wipe out other civilizations, as you're giving up their potential benefits.
> history of China
tl;dr - late-Qing+ China (like the Muslim world) goes from a thriving, scientifically leading, expansionist trading society to an isolationist stagnant one, then suffers 200 years of being taken advantage of by foreign powers.
Culminating in both the British and Japanese invading with radically advanced military hardware and imposing their will.
It's hard not to see parallels, but a bit terrifying that the 3BP take-away is 'you should launch a first strike on your enemies the second you can obliterate them without retribution.'
I think the cultural differences wouldn't have been as apparent if they had anglicized names though, I had a hard time tracking the characters, was assigning some of the thoughts to the wrong people and things like that. I struggle with games set in Asia like Shogun Total War for the same reason.
From reading only a few Chinese/Asian books I think the problem is that each culture has its own style of writing fiction and Chinese books tend to have a slower pace and more introspection. You also get that in some English language fiction, but not so much in sci-fi, so the average English culture sci-fi reader is going to going to get frustrated with Chinese language sci.fi.
I felt the translator of the first book was better by a lot.
I have a guess that's why the Warcraft movie did so well in China. The characters are so thin, and life is cheap in that film.
In western sci-fi, the story exists to make the reader feel good about themselves. At least, the successful ones are like this. It makes for good movies, and good story telling.
Think about that for a moment. All the western sci-fi that we've been used to: Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, etc.. All these stories are not really science fiction, but rather, science fantasy.
It goes through the normal story telling, of establishing a good guy and a bad guy. And it tries to pull you in, to empathize with the challenges of the good guy, so that you can experience his trials and tribulations. And then, at the end, the good guy always wins. He always succeeds, in some way or other. And you're left with feeling a sense of joy.
But, Cixin Lui's stories, threw all that aside. He presented you with the cold hard reality, of survival in the jungle. That there are not really any good or bad sides. Just different perspectives. And everyone is just trying to survive.
And the jungle is the galaxy. Western sci-fi is all about being human-centric, as if we are the only species in the universe that matters. Whereas Cixin, presented us with a reality, where humanity is only one of billions of intelligent species. Those that had survived the jungle, or those that hide from the rest, or those that evolved into another form, or those that end up hunting, to maintain their probability of survival.
So, if you want to continue to feel good about yourself, then stick with what you know. Keep reading western sci-fi. If you want to expand your mind, then try out Cixin's novel.
Admittedly, I think something was lost in translation. The translated text was overly wordy. But the concepts behind it, was still incredible.
I especially loved the story about the human computer system, the Qin 1.0 Operating System. That was quite creative.
I'm not sure how much Wetern Science Fiction you know, but those are all Cinematic Franchises, not western science fiction-books. That popcorn-movies have a specific angle for being successful is not a surprise.
If you wanna compare Cixin Lui's stories with modern western writers then be more honest, and take recent books from modern western writers. Charles Stross, Alastair Reynolds, Neal Stephenson, they all come to mind in that regard.
I have read a few Cixin Lui books and just didn't find them particularly good. The characters are dull and the plots are bad. His proponents tend to go on about him being not being optimistic and him being introspective as though that is a new thing and I just need to open my mind to this new radical way of thinking, but it just isn't new - people like Brian Aldis just did it so much better for me many decades ago.
It's not an either/or. Books are often much, much darker than Hollywood adaptations.
Why is a US programme such as Breaking Bad considered ground breaking and hugely refreshing? For the first time in decades the USA has produced something where the hero is also the bad guy. You end up with some sympathy, and conflicted, for a complex main character, with many shades of grey and black. None of the usual black/white, so obvious it's painful.
Something like Stross's Merchant Princes can finish with a horrible ending and still be a fabulous series and story telling without many reasons to feel good to be found. Then derail after those 6 brilliant books with a clumsy reboot/relaunch.
Global family audience. They're doing something right.
As big as China is getting and will get in the future, I wonder if their movie industry will ever become a global draw. They seem to be awfully local right now. Same goes for Japan or even India.
How do you define science fantasy?
I would agree Star Wars is fantasy, but I don't think Star Trek (pre Discovery) can be classed as fantasy. For example, a few of their concepts are now real, e.g. they envisioned tablets back in the 60s, now we have iPads etc. More is explored here: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/star_trek.ht...
I mean, there is little real difference between "the Force did it," the Q did it" and "a wizard did it."
That the show also happened to have imagined portable computers and other technological innovations ... makes it science fantasy, rather than fantasy outright. But more to the point, what makes Star Trek more science fantasy than fiction is that it isn't about science, or extrapolating a plausible future, but simply using a futuristic setting as a backdrop for drama, without regard for actual scientific plausibility.
I'm not mocking Star Trek, I love the franchise and the original series, for what it was, was the first attempt at describing a persistent futuristic setting on television that I'm aware of (also, it was the series with the least technobabble and "teching the tech" which always helps.) That also (to me) makes it the most "science fictional" of the series, maybe the only one that counts as science fiction. YMMV.
As with most things, I think it's probably more on a spectrum. I probably should have said that Star Trek leans more towards science fiction than Star Wars - so yes - I agree with your points.
Another one that's more 'science fictional' is the Expanse - worth checking out if you haven't yet.
All the proto-molecule derived stuff isn’t particularly plausible, but it’s not really worse than most sufficiently-advanced-technology tropes, and it tries pretty hard to express a universe with rules, just different rules.
I would give Star Wars an F for science-y-ness, Star Trek a varying score depending on the episode (ranging from A to F) but overall a C, and The Expanse a B+.
It is galling when people define sci-fi by its cinematic imitators, for sure.
When you go into the things that don't get blockbuster movies, you end up with old-school scifi. Newer like The Expanse or Blindsight, older like The Culture or Hyperion, or proper old school stuff like
In general, piece of unwanted and unrequested advice - whenever you make a huge sweeping statement about complex topic with many examples (like "In western sci-fi, the story exists to make the reader feel good about themselves.") you are inevitably wrong.
While sometimes being overly focused on the ecology angle - although not as much as his standalone book "Earth" - they're great reading.
But I think it is changing slowly with new popular shows being bit different.
Just to give one example, at one point the first book features an integrated circuit somehow "etched" on the surface of a stretched-out elementary particle. And that's not just a random curiosity, but a key plot device, without which said plot collapses.
I can't in good conscience call this hard sci-fi (which is how the book is usually advertised).
If the Trisolarians had sent them out in various directions to scout out solar systems they could have avoided so many headaches.
All of these components are lacking in the book, and it's not just the particles. It reads very much like someone subscribed to some popular science journal for a few years, and then just dumped every idea that sounded interesting into a book without much understanding of what it is about.
To give another example, the author references string theory - great! - but then he has a one-dimensional string - that makes up an elementary particle - break apart into "pieces" from gravity.
Or take alien propulsion. It supposedly works by collecting antimatter from space - but where in space is there enough antimatter to collect like that, and why hasn't it annihilated from interaction with the much more prevalent hydrogen? The interesting thing about this example is that it's not insurmountable - hard sci-fi could explain it away in some convincingly sounding way - but the book doesn't even bother to, it's just presented as fact, without even pointing out the contradictions.
Do we have any scientific evidence that any of higher-dimensional antics in 3BP are possible?
If not, then the author is making up his own world building rules (completely acceptable). But that makes the story more akin to scientific fantasy than hard scientific fiction.
And unless the English translation excised a LOT of technical details, there are some huge leaps of scientific faith in 3BP.
Even that much is being overly kind (at least to the first book - I gave up after that). Hard SF introduces a small number of well-defined ideas and then works through their logical consequences. Science fantasy introduces magical devices with particular consequences as and when the plot demands. The magical VR system and magical particle computer - essentially all the SF elements of Three Body Problem - were examples of the latter.
If you're going to take 1,800 pages (English translation) to lay out your series, and you can't spare a few for 'well, now we're building giant fusion-powered warship fleets'? That's not anything approaching hard sci-fi in my book.
Yes, all the technologies used on the ships are extrapolated and believable, but the realignment of society, economics, and the organization of such a construction effort boggles the mind. And to say 'it just happens'? That's kind of like going from WWII to 'and so we landed on the moon' in a single page.
On the one hand, one obviously needs some technological leeway to write a fun novel set in the future.
On the other, if every roadblock is responded to by suspending scientific treatment, it doesn't seem like that's a good faith "hard" effort.
I think Ringworld is instructive. The Wikipedia article specifically calls out technical inaccuracies in the original... inaccuracies Niven specifically made an effort to patch up in later books.
So the count of intentional lapses seems as decent a proxy for hardness as anything else.
Da Shi (together with Luo Ji, my favourite characters), Ye Wenjie, Yun Tianming and Thomas Wade develop across the series. If you cast the various human masses, the Trisolarans and Sophon as characters, which they resemble, they—too—develop compellingly over the series. Certain family lineages also cast favourably as “characters”.
It does take a different view of character development to make things pop. For me, the best part about the characters was experiencing Liu’s worlds through their odd perspectives. (Cheng Xin was not a pleasant perspective. But against Wade’s and Beihai’s foils, it is thought provoking.)
I'm on the "don't care about character development" side. But those books are atrociously slow. The whole "3 body problem" could be condensed to maybe 50 pages.
Personally I really liked the series, although I think that the story could have been cut a little shorter at the end and it could have done without perpetrating the stereotype of young women marrying way older men.
In reality both are a highly nuanced and subjective. I would say my own emotional state is rarely definable as a single adjective with a direct cause.
I'm trying to ascribe it to translation and cultural difference, but it really does just seem like poor or childish writing. I'll have to read some other Chinese fiction as a control experiment.
1. Tri-solaran civilization = chinese civilization in many ways:
Unlike say America, where technology has developed constantly, in tri-solaris technology develops only during "stable eras" and stops developing or regresses when too many suns are in the sky, or not enough suns are in the sky. Compare that to chinese history: periods of technology/cultural development interspersed with being conquered by "barbarians" or large civil wars.
Also tri-solarans are a pretty unforgiving culture, in one scene a tri-solaran king casually executes someone for failing to do their duty. Later in the series they import ideas like human rights from Earth.
2. The scene where tri-solaris wipes out the entire earth fleet with technology unknown to Earth seems pretty reminiscent of a lot of instances where one culture armed with a thousand spears meets another armed with a dozen guns. Earth comes into the exchange feeling confident too, perhaps reminiscent of the boxer rebellion.
3. Black and white thinking in the first book (tri solarans are evil vs tri solarans are gods) might be similar to the various ideological movements in china, from the cultural revolution to capitalism today.
1. The most powerful human trait is the ability to hide ones true feelings and thoughts from others.
I have not read enough Chinese sci-fi to know if this is a recurring theme.
There is also a movie that has finished filming but is in post production hell. Allegedly because of money issues but who knows.
Granted, his vision for the story is simply brilliant, which covers up a lot of weak points in his literary skills, but weakness is weakness nevertheless. In a way, Three Body Problem series aren't good novels, since it lacks humartian elements in them, but great sketchbooks of some of the craziest, but at the same time, most beautiful SF ideas in decades.
My advice: read it if you liked Asimov or learning about Chinese culture. For example, another commenter pointed out one theme in this trilogy is "The most powerful human trait is the ability to hide ones true feelings and thoughts from others". This is a markedly Chinese trait that it was noted by a missionary who visited China in the 19th century and wrote a book called "Chinese Characteristics".
Sad but true, the one most important Chinese SF magazine, the SF World, where all the mentioned authors started their career, has been hanging on the edge and gradually becoming irrelevant for some time now.
The new generation of readers has put their vote on longer, daily updated, fast paced Wuxia(Martial Arts)/Xianxia(Martial Arts with Fantasy element) series, which focuses entirely on pleasing the readership with favorable characters/troupes.
With a strangling market, I wouldn't say the Chinese science fiction's future is a bright one.
If anything, digital publishing where you can circumvent the publishers should allow for more content to reach market (not saying it's all good...see geocities webpages as an example of this) but I'm not sure why you think this would be bad for the Chinese SciFi scene.
The Chinese online fiction is now a rat race, every author is measured by the characters they are written PER day, which ranges like 3000 characters to 10k characters. To output that amount of text per day is not trivial task, it is not writing more like manufacturing. And works that doesn't meet such standard gets no chance to even reach the readership at all, per algorithm.
So, to answer your question, medium and content in this case are intervened. Medium is not neutral, it shapes the content by itself, and sadly in China's case, it opts to optimize for volumes not quality, and changes the readers' taste and expectation along the way.
Tradition publishing has one unique quality to itself that it offers advice and quality control through editorship. Not the case for self-publishing though, the market is flooded with more products with lower qualities, and it makes no easier for real good work to stand out since there is too much noise.
I will say you’re not wrong about the value of editors in traditional publishing. As far as I know, there isn’t really much of an answer to that in the “new media” world - even if you want to pay someone directly for the work, editors open to such engagements seem hard to find.
I think with traditional publishing, it's hard to get your book in but easier once you get in. Whereas with self-publishing on the web, it's easier to get in but harder to maintain because of the many demands from readers.
I still don't understand how that book gets so many good reviews, and especially don't understand people comparing it with Heinlein. Those reviews were the only reason why I forced myself to read it all the way through, and it still feels like some elaborate hoax, or accidentally ending up in some postmodernist art convention by mistake.
To me, originality and "philosophical development", or how the perspective of science influences the future and nature of humanity are very important, and that's why I consider this series an absolute masterpiece.
It's great in the same vein as 2001: a space odyssey, or rendezvous with rama, or childhood's end
The other axis is quality of writing - i.e. how easy it is to read and understand, and how aesthetically pleasing the writing is. On that axis, I would also rank it very low.
for me personally, i approached it less as a hard sci-fi book and more of a fantasy/sci-fi novel with some big ideas, and loved it for that!
Too violent no ...
It is not just the rule. It is the arbitrary rule suddenly comes up. Any funny bear like honey
This should actually be interpreted as a loophole/compromise under the draconian censorship as fairy tales are indeed allowed before the regime.
Harry Potter is somewhat popular in China as well, though way less than it is in western countries. "Harry Potter" style stories (and Lord of Rings, etc.) are simply too "foreign" to a lot of Chinese, and that has very little to do with the government.
No Harry Potter local as no magic, no god, no fiary after 1948.
After 1948 anything seen as promoting magic, god, fairies (more broadly fantasy) is banned.
If something is too violent it’s banned.
It is not just the rule. It is the arbitrary rule suddenly comes up.
Ultimately these rules are the whim of whoever is in power, and there isn’t necessarily any logic to it.
Any funny bear like honey
Flukes is definitely correct, Winnie is a big no-go.
> "No Harry Potter local as no magic, ..."
We don't publish localized Harry Potter (don't they? I am not sure) because magic fantasy is abandoned.
> "... no god, no fiary after 1948."
Why 1948? The year is not that meaningful for modern Hong Kong people, but it is a important year for China and Taiwan. At 1948, KMT was de facto defeated by CCP and start to retreat to Taiwan.
> "Too violent no ..."
A book cannot be published if it is too violent.
> "It is not just the rule. It is the arbitrary rule suddenly comes up."
I suppose this looks like normal English? Chinese Government intentionally keeps the publish law vague and blur, so that they can "dynamically" decide what to ban and who to capture.
> Any funny bear like honey
@flukus got this.
Note 仙 can mean fairy in Chinese, they are part of the Chinese category known as 仙侠 or 玄幻，which is Asian/Chinese themed fantasy that differs from Western fantasy novels because its about Taoism/Buddhism, Chinese dragons, demons, immortals and Chinese legends.
As well Chinese magical fantasy or 奇幻 is still alive and well but they're basically Western fantasy genres written by Chinese people with similar ideas of Kings, Queens, Western Dragons.
I read that as “after 1948, no references to magic, religion, fairies (in other words, the supernatural) is allowed”.
He may be posting from mainland China via a VPN that ends in HK though?
Since I learn Mandarin, feel free to recommend Chinese movies. (I am trying to read 三体 already, don't need more books).
I start with the first (non-scifi) movie:
Please recommend more Chinese movies if you can
I'd be curious about how this affects Chinese authors, and if and how they have to limit the topics and the creativity of their writing due to this.
It's still possible to read banned books on the mainland if you know the right sites, but most consumers of banned literature are probably just looking for porn, so you might need to do some digging to find something more high-brow.
I'm not sure what lesser-known authors do, but I guess they try to keep their fiction as fictional as possible.
And redistribution of porn materials is a crime that can send committers to prison, depends generally on how much money they've earned from it or/and how many redistribution has been made etc.
But personal consumption is not illegal.
To put it simple, if you want to be a 100% law obeying person in China, then you can watch porn, but you cannot produce it, you cannot copy it and send to others, you cannot recommend it to others. The real life situation is bit different of course.
Sci-fi allows more freedoms for writers and good sci-fi flourishes.
I don't believe there are any spoilers either way.
Here are some interesting trivia about Science Fiction World
- Nearly all of Liu Cixin's work was first published on this magazine
- The publisher was located in Chengdu, Sichuan, it's an official member of Sichuan Science Society, which is under direct control of Communist Party Sichuan Committee.
- One of the chief editor of SFW, A-Lai, who is a Tibetan, also a very established award-winning writer. His most famous work is about the conflict in feudal serfdom Tibet in the 20s century. A very interesting novel.
- SFW was once considered the largest science fiction magazine published by volume. In 2010 there was an online campaign from its staff requesting step down of Party appointed president & chief editor, LiChang.
- LiChang was also responsible for opening another magazine lineup, the famous Magic Fantasy World. Because of the LotR and Harry Potter influence. The magazine was discontinued in 2013.
Also, Folding Beijing is an award winning short story encompassing all three things plus class strife, written by a Chinese author.
If you can turn off all knowledge of how things work and just look at the human story of love, loss and sacrifice the translation and writing is excellent.
(4 or 5 clicks and a search/name check, must get a grip ...)
> A big clue comes from the author Neil Gaiman’s collection of non-fiction essays, The View from the Cheap Seats, where he relates an anecdote from the time he attended the 2007 China SF/Fantasy Conference in Chengdu:
> “A few years ago, in 2007, I went to China for the first-ever, I believe, state-sponsored science fiction convention, and at some point I remember talking to a party official who was there and I said, ‘Up until now I have read in Locus that your lot disapprove of science fiction and you disapprove of science fiction conventions and these things have not been deliberately encouraged. What’s changed? Why did you permit this thing? Why are we here?’
> ‘And he said, ‘Oh you know for years, we’ve been making wonderful things. We make your iPods. We make phones. We make them better than anybody else, but we don’t come up with any of these ideas. So we went on a tour of America talking to people at Microsoft, at Google, at Apple, and we asked them a lot of questions about themselves, just the people working there. And we discovered they all read science fiction… so we think maybe it’s a good thing.”
> The more things change, the more they remain the same. Lu Xun in 1903 had written that ‘science fiction could play a crucial role in the advancement of the Chinese nation’ and 104 years later, the purpose of the 2007 Chengdu SF/F Conference seems to have been no different for it was described as ‘an ambitious Chinese effort designed to inspire public creativity toward future scientific and technological development as well as promote national insight for scientific exploration’. A laudable step towards sparking the imagination and fostering innovation, but the state support of science fiction is also about advancing China’s soft power. As the writer Chen Quifan said in a speech (co-written by the organisers) at the eighth Chinese Nebula Awards in November 2017, saying that the purpose of Chinese science fiction was to, “grasp what General Secretary Xi has put forward, and advance the establishment of the power of the international spread of the culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, in order to tell the China story.”
Now China thrives on closing down churches, jailing pastors, censoring 'sensitive' materials in Hong Kong, indoctrinate muslims to eat pork and drink beer, etc etc etc.
Doubt any book of significance will arise in this environment
Although the ones I've read have been remixing Cthulhu with Cyberpunk so I might be digressing. Also note that most Chinese modern sci-fi now begin life as internet and web forum novels because the web is the most important and fast-spreading medium for Chinese fiction readers now.
As well, near-future sci-fi and most importantly those kind of TV shows are pretty much banned in China.
criticizing Mao is pretty dangerous but as far as I can tell it's pretty safe to criticize the Cultural Revolution.
Hopefully Chinese SF can deal with some western neglected or taboo topics!
Edit: especially curious about which topics folks think might be considered taboos in Western science fiction.
Not "taboo," persay, but it's something thing that's not really seriously considered by most westerners (not the ones I know, at least).
Just because this new wave of non-Western science fiction has issues, this doesn't mean it cannot contribute some novel richness to a genre that has so far been dominated by white Westerners.
Innovation doesn't lie in perfect solutions, and that's especially true for art.
Sterling’s Shapers come to mind, but it’s not common.
Some of the populations did well, some were strange, and some were constantly warring. So not quite "positive", but not gratuitously negative either.
Of course this is almost unreadable fifty years later, so I’m not actually recommending the book.