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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
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,
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.
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
during this time period.
People's Republic of China
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
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.
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
During the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign (1983–1984), [[Biao
Qian]] labelled science fiction as "spiritual pollution." This led to
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
Lifang]], and He Xi).
China held international science fiction conventions in Chengdu (1991) and
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."
In 2012, the Hong Kong journal Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation
Magazine issued a special double issue
([http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/rct/toc/toc_b7778.html 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.
- Nevins, Jess (4 April 2011). "Where did steampunk come from?". io9. Retrieved 21 June 2012. line feed character in
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- 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.
- Voigt, Kevin (14 April 2011). [http://business.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/14/china -bans-time-travel-for-television/ "China banning time travel for TV?"] Check
|url=value (help). CNN. Retrieved 21 June 2012. line feed character in
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- [http://www.concatenation.org/articles/sf~china.html "Science Fiction,
Globalization, and China"]
- Science Fiction Network (in Chinese)
- [http://www.sfw-cd.com/ "Science Fiction World" magazine official
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)