China’s [Politically Motivated?] Science Fiction Craze – Viewed as Single Page

This Blog explored (with Tom Carter’s guest post) how Harlequin Romance Invaded China without mentioning that romance literature in China has a history reaching back before the Dream of the Red Chamber (1715-1763), which has a tragic Romeo and Juliet love story between its covers.

I’ve also written of the rise of China’s film industry in Hollywood to Bollywood to a Rising Chinawood, while exploring the folklore and films of China’s Vampires.

As a child, I read many historical texts on Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire, and historical fiction on similar subjects.

Then as an adolescent in middle and then high school I devoured science fiction and fantasy novels often one or two a day.

Today, I mostly read mysteries and literature but find my science fiction fantasy fix from film productions such as The Lord of the Rings, TV’s Stargate and Star Trek franchises in addition to George Lucas‘s Star Wars Saga.

Recently, I’ve been watching the complete series of Earth 2 while reading mysteries and thrillers.

In fact, the future we live with today was predicted in the early pages of Western science-fiction literature and China has noticed that science fiction literature often predicts and precedes scientific innovations such as laptop computers, the Internet, the Amazon Kindle and even doors that open automatically.

The British Telegraph’s HG Wells on Google: which of his predictions came true? reminds us that H. G. Wells first mentioned genetic engineering in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), lasers in The War of the Worlds (1898), the first moon landing in The First Men in the Moon (1901), nuclear power and weapons in the World Set Free (1914), and the Second World War in The Shape of Things to Come (1933).

In addition, Computer Science Schools.net lists 15 Science Fiction Predictions that came True, while Blog Tutor.com lists eight.

Blog Tutor says, “At the time of their writing, these science fiction ideas often seemed impossible to fantastic to ever come true—and yet today’s technology seems to keep pace with the dreams of writers past.

Although Cyberspace hasn’t quite reached the level of technology William Gibson predicted in 1986’s Burning Chrome, no one can deny that the Internet’s alternative worlds … are working towards the virtual…”

With that introduction, it may not come as a surprise that science fiction fits with China’s goals to catch up with and possibly surpass the West and reclaim its heritage and history of being the most powerful and technological advanced country and culture on the planet as it was for more than two thousand years before the 19th century and the Opium Wars.

In fact, we learn from The Race is On that “China’s Government actively encourages its citizens to read Science Fiction… Mark Charan Newton calls this the “Cult of Science Fiction – that is, the faith in dreaming up Big Ideas… So perhaps the Chinese are onto something with their focus on science fiction: a genre that weds the scientific to the artistic.”

The history of science fiction in China predates the CCP’s encouragement today, and that interest started in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — a cultural phenomenon that emerged from Western Europe’s Industrial Revolution. One site I visited while researching this topic even dated science fiction to ancient China.

In Sci-fi books? China’s got tons of those, Asia Obscura.com says, “When it comes to sci-fi movies, China’s really falling behind. One that really did impress me, though, was the very first to be produced in China: 1980′s gorgeous, fun, and campy ‘Death Ray on Coral Island’ (珊瑚岛上的死光).

“In ‘Death Ray,’ a good-hearted team of Chinese scientists, based in what appears to be San Francisco, finally succeed in completing their fabulous futuristic invention. That is, until the sinister back-stabbing Americans, played with Bond-villainous glee by Chinese actors in whiteface and prosthetic noses, decide to steal the invention for their evil plots…”, which reveals another perspective of the US.

Then Foreign Policy.com introduces us to The Prosperous Time: China 2013, written by 58-year-old Hong Kong novelist Chen Guanzhong, who has lived and worked in Beijing for much of his life.

China 2013 presents an ambivalent vision of China’s near future: outwardly triumphant (a Chinese company has even bought out Starbucks), and yet tightly controlled”, which may be a prediction that China’s one party republic is here to stay.

Even after 1949 with the founding of the People’s Republic of China, science fiction literature continued to flourish. During this period, the genre adopted a popular science approach and directed the majority of its stories towards younger readers.

However, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), science fiction stagnated and then revived after March 1978 when the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council convened a national scientific congress in Beijing, proclaiming to China, “Science’s spring has come.”

Scientific enthusiasm and popular science followed, greatly promoting the development of science fiction in China.

From China.org we learn, “The monthly circulation of Science Fiction World, one of China’s most popular magazines, has exceeded 500,000, dwarfing all international counterparts. Yang Xiao, head of the magazine’s editorial board, said 70 percent of its readers were students who shared single copies of the journal between dozens of friends because they could not afford their own. Millions of Chinese young people were affected by science fiction, said Yang, who hailed the rise of the modernist genre among the people who would decide the nation’s future.”

Another sign of the progress of science fiction literature in China first took place August 25, 2007 at the Chengdu International SF/F Conference. Over two days, authors from America, Canada, Britain, Russia, Japan, and China, and over twenty-thousand science fiction fans arrived in Chengdu for the event, which in turn increased the influence of SF in China due to media coverage.

Then from Chinese Science Fiction.org, we discover the second Chengdu Science Fiction and Fantasy conference was held November 12, 2011 in Chengdu.

Meanwhile, China continues with plans to build a space station, and then a productive mining colony of rare-earth minerals on the moon with a future exploration of Mars on the books, while the United States space program languishes.

The cause of this development is due to the US national debt and the costs of the war on Islamic terrorism, which may have been caused by what Henry Kissinger calls, “American exceptionalism is missionary. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world” even if the world isn’t interested resulting in this resistance from the Middle East.

In addition, many young people in the United States with a high sense of self-esteem do not read books while watching too much TV has been scientifically linked to lack of a development in part of the brain where imagination blossoms.

Note: You may read more on this topic [written by British thriller writer O. C. Heaton] over at A Rush of Green.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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