As China’s expansion of influence now takes up the spotlight of the world stage, Chinese science fiction, a relatively little known genre, reaches a global audience. In 2015, Liu Cixin received the Hugo Award for Best Novel for his trilogy The Three-Body Problem, as the first Asian science fiction writer to receive the Hugo Award. A year later, Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing was awarded the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. The recent world-wide recognition of Chinese science fiction begins with English translation, U.S. publication and promotion. The New York Times cited The Three-Body Problem as having helped popularize Chinese science fiction internationally, crediting the quality of Ken Liu’s English translation, as well as endorsements by George R. R. Martin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and former U.S. president Barack Obama (Alter). In this review essay, I argue that recent Chinese science fiction boom represents both Chinese exceptionalism and universalist concerns for humanities now and future. In what follows, I first offer a brief outline of the two works, highlighting the alterations that occur in translations. Then I try to identify several salient features of these works by situating them within the global political and economic contexts of China rise (or threat), geopolitical conflicts, competition and rivalry in science and technology, particularly AI, 5G technology, especially the global rise of nationalism and populism. Finally, I suggest an allegorical reading of these two works (and other recent Chinese science fiction) as nationalist allegories.
"Nationalist Allegories in the Post-human Era."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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