Science fiction takes off
2017-10-09, 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 Aug 15-22 Literary Week, Chinese author Chen Qiufan spoke about his experiences participating in the annual Worldcon, 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. (Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire was adapted for television in HBO’s hugely popular Game of Thrones.)

“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,” Chen said. 

“Literature is not forgotten. On the contrary, it will glow and bloom to be a guiding star. It’s time to redefine the realities.”

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 20 years later that he got his works published. Waypoint Kangaroo, his first published novel, was only available in the US a few years ago.

Long fascinated by the Japanese cartoon series Doraemon, in which the blue robotic cat from the future has a magical kangaroo-like pouch, Curtis Chen 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.

Another author present at the International Literary Week was American 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.

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