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Chinese science fiction (Chinese: 科幻, pinyin: kēhuàn) is a

genre of literature with over 100 years of history. Initially popularized

through translations of Western authors during the late- Qing dynasty by proponents of Western-style modernization such as

Liang Qichao and Kang Youwei as a tool to spur technological

innovation and scientific progress, during the May Fourth Movement of

1919 writers such as Lao She began employing science fiction for the

purpose of social criticism. Following the Chinese civil war (1945-49)

and the establishment of the People's Republic of China on the Chinese

mainland, works with an ethos of socialist realism inspired by

Soviet science fiction became more

common while others works were supressed. Still, many original works were

created during this time period up until the beginning of [[Cultural

Revolution]] (1966-76) when the printing of non-revolutionary literature

was suspended. Following Chairman Mao's death in 1976 and the repealing of

the final Cultural Revolution-era reforms in 1978,

Mainland China[edit]

Late-Qing Dynasty[edit]

The history of science fiction in China began with national interest in

pre-existing Western science fiction from the late nineteenth and early

twentieth centuries, particularly as a literary response to the advances

of the Industrial Revolution.

With his translation of Jules Verne's "Fifteen Little Heroes" into

Classical Chinese, Liang Qichao became a major introducer of science

fiction. The May Fourth Movement, with its advocacy of the cultural

ideals of democracy and science, further spurred national interest in the

genre. Many works of science fiction were either translated into Chinese

from the Western canon, or were penned as originals by Chinese authors.

In 1903, Lu Xun, then a young foreign student at the Japanese [[Kobun

Institute]] (弘文學院 Kobun Gakuin), translated Jules Verne's The

Cannon Club and Journey to the Centre of the Earth from

Japanese into Classical Chinese (rendering it in the

traditional zhang wei ban style and adding expository notes). He

would continue to translate many of Verne's and H.G. Wells' classic

stories, nationally popularizing these through periodical publication.

China's earliest original science fiction was Yueqiu Zhimindi Xiaoshuo

(月球殖民地小說 "Lunar Colony"), published in 1904 under the pen name

Huang Jiang Diao Sou (荒江釣叟 "Secluded River's Old Fisherman"). The

story concerns Long Menghua, who flees China with his wife after killing a

government official who was harassing his wife's family. The ship they

escape on is accidentally sunk and Long's wife disappears. However, Long

is rescued by Otoro Tama, the Japanese inventor of a dirigible who

helps him travel to Southeast Asia searching for his wife. They join with

a group of anti-Qing martial artists to rescue her from bandits. Deciding

that the nations of the world are too corrupt, they all travel to the moon

and establish a new colony.[1]

Republican Era[edit]

Following the collapse of the Qing-dynasty in 1911, China went through a

series of dramatic social and political changes which affted the genre of

science fiction tremdously. During this time period, [[vernacular

Chinese]] began to replace Classical Chinese as the written language

of the Chinese mainland in addition to Chinese-speaking communities around

the world. China's earliest purely literary periodical, Xiao Shuo Lin

(小說林 "Story Forest"), founded by Xu Nianci, not only published

translated science fiction, but also Chinese fiction such as Xin Faluo

Xiansheng Tan (新法螺先生譚 "New Mr. Tan Triton") and the famous social

critic Lao She also composed his novel Cat Country (貓城記)

during this time period.

People's Republic of China[edit]


In 1949, with the founding of the People's Republic of China, science

fiction literature became more popular. In this early period, the genre

adopted a "popular science" approach and directed the majority of its

stories towards the younger reader. Besides popularizing science, science

fiction was also used to promote an image of the country's wonderful

socialist future. The theme is comparable to the style of [[socialist

realism]] then seen in the Soviet Union.


During the Cultural Revolution science fiction stagnated. However,

following the March 1978 national science congress convened by the

Central Committee

and the State Council

and its proclamation that "science's spring has come," a greater

enthusiasm for popular science (and thus science fiction) followed. The

publication of Ye Yonglie's Xiao Lingtong's Travels in the Future

(小灵通漫游未来) marked the revival of science fiction literature in

China. At the same time scientists used science fiction to symbolically

describe the political and social standing to which the science community

aspired after its rehabilitation.[2]

Zheng Wenguang, known as the "father of Chinese science fiction" for

his writings in the 1950s and 1970s, again devoted himself to writing

during this period. Tong Enzheng wrote "Death Ray on a Coral Island",

which would be made into China's first science fiction movie. Other

important writers include Liu Xingshi, Wang Xiaoda, and [[Ni


During the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign (1983–1984), [[Biao

Qian]] labelled science fiction as "spiritual pollution." This led to

authors such as Ye Yonglie, Tong Enzheng, Liu Xingshi, and [[Xiao

Jianheng]] being condemned for slander and the entire genre of science

fiction almost expired during this campaign.

In 1978, the publication Science Fiction World (Kehuan Shijie)

was founded under the original name Scientific Literature, becoming

the highest circulating Chinese science fiction publication in the early

1990s. It features both major foreign authors and Chinese science fiction

writers (including Xing He, Liu Cixin, Wang Jinkang, [[Qian

Lifang]], and He Xi).

China held international science fiction conventions in Chengdu (1991) and

Beijing (2000).

On March 31, 2011, the [[State Administration of Radio, Film, and

Television]] issued guidelines that strongly discouraged television

storylines including "fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of

mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating

feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons,

and a lack of positive thinking."[3]

In 2012, the Hong Kong journal Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation

Magazine issued a special double issue

([ Renditions No. 77 &

78]) with a focus on science fiction, including works from both the early

20th century and the early 21st century.


Following the defeat of the Qing Dynasty in the [[First Sino-Japanese

War]] (1894–1895), the island of Taiwan came under the sovereign rule

to the Empire of Japan who eventually instituted a policy of

'Japanization' that discouraged the use of Chinese languages and scripts

in Taiwan. When the island was ceded to the Republic of China after

the end of World War II in 1945 the majority of Japanese colonialists

were repatriated to Japan and the KMT, the ruling party of the RoC,

quickly established control of the island. This was to prove key to the

survival of the RoC government, who was forced to move their capital to

the island after their defeat by the communists in the Chinese Civil War.

Hong Kong[edit]


  1. ^ Nevins, Jess (4 April 2011). "Where did steampunk come from?". io9. Retrieved 21 June 2012.  line feed character in |date= at position 9 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Rudolf G. Wagner, "Lobby Literature: The Archaeology and Present Functions of Science Fiction in the People's Republic of China", in J. Kinkley (ed.), After Mao: Chinese Literature and Society 1978–1981. Harvard East Asian Monographs 115. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985, pp. 17-62.
  3. ^ Voigt, Kevin (14 April 2011). [ -bans-time-travel-for-television/ "China banning time travel for TV?"] Check |url= value (help). CNN. Retrieved 21 June 2012.  line feed character in |url= at position 47 (help)

External links[edit]

Globalization, and China"]

website] (in Chinese)

coral-island-1980.html China’s first sci-fi movie: Death Ray on Coral

Island] - Stills and stories from China's first sci-fi movie

Zhimindi Xiaoshuo (月球殖民地小說 "Lunar Colony")] (in Chinese)

Category:Chinese literature Chinese