In recent years, two Chinese science fiction writers have won the Hugo Award, the highest honor in the field. While driving a reading enthusiasm of sci-fi works among domestic readers, the Hugo Award winning also brought Chinese sci-fi to international attention. Has a golden era come for Chinese sci-fi? Against this backdrop, sci-fi writers and sci-fi industry watchers from around the world gathered at the China Science Fiction Convention 2019 to discuss the future of Chinese sci-fi.
Kevin J. Anderson, best-selling American sci-fi writer, applauded the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, regarding it as an international exhibition of China’s imagination. He noted that there is a difference between the way Chinese and western sci-fi writers think. He believed that the stories Chinese sci-fi writers tell and the way they tell them have provided a new horizon for sci-fi writing, and would gain popularity in the rest of the world.
Similarly, for sci-fi movies, experts believed that The Wandering Earth, premiered early this year, has provided a Chinese solution to catastrophes in sci-fi movies. In the movie, people chose to unite and cooperate with each other to save mother Earth through dedication, sacrifice, wisdom and courage.
According to renowned Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin, China is experiencing rapid modernization and the development environment is very futuristic, and all of these provide the soil for sci-fi writing.
“Although Chinese sci-fi is still at an early stage and yet to see a golden age in terms of scale, we are already in a golden age in terms of development environment,” Liu said.
Liu also noted that sci-fi works was gaining popularity throughout Chinese society.
“The attention to sci-fi may reflect a change in the way China’s new generation think,” Liu added. As far as Liu is concerned, Chinese people used to care more about the reality, but today they begin to care about the future, to the distant space and time, such as the outer space and the fate of the universe.
Speaking on the development of sci-fi movies, Quji Xiaojiang, deputy general manager of Bona Film Group, believed that the success of The Wandering Earth gave film producers confidence. “I have faith that in the future, more capitals will continuously go to sci-fi films. We need to accumulate experiences, draw lessons and be bold and courageous. The sci-fi movie industry in China has a promising future.”
Liu agreed with Quji on the future of Chinese sci-fi movies. Liu believed that, based on the current trend, a large number of sci-fi movies would come out in the next 5 to 10 years. However, Liu noted that sci-fi literature in China is still weak, but as the horizons of Chinese sci-writers broaden, the sector is still likely to embrace a golden era, but there would have to be more writers dedicated to the field.
“Science fiction belongs to popular literature, so we won’t see classics unless we have a large number of works and writers come out,” Liu added.
Leonard Mlodinow, Caltech professor and a science popularization writer, noted during the convention that a good cultural environment is needed to inspire and encourage more people to tell stories and participate in writing science fictions.
Kevin J. Anderson, American sci-fi author whose works have been translated into 30 languages and sold more than 23 million copies globally, also attended the convention. He shared his experiences as a sci-fi author. Anderson noted that sci-fi works are for the general public. In addition to science and technology content, there should also be interesting characters and sophisticated plots in sci-fi works to lead readers. Science fictions, as Anderson put, were just like the menu of a banquet, which included dishes with different flavors.
Zhou Zhonghe, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and president of the China Science Writers Association (CSWA), said that to have more fine works and more internationally-famous sci-fi writers, China’s sci-fi industry should be more open and inclusive and seek integrated development with such industries as film, science and technology, art and education.