China’s [Politically Motivated?] Science Fiction Craze – Part 4/4

November 23, 2011

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.

Return to China’s [Politically Motivated?] Science Fiction Craze – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China: Portrait of a People–a book review

March 2, 2010

Most tourists travel by jet or bus and spend nights in four or five star hotels sleeping on plush beds. They eat at only the best restaurants. Only a few visit countries like Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous nineteenth century explorer and adventurer. Tom Carter is one of those few. Imagine backpacking for two years and walking 35,000 miles to capture the heart and soul of a nation. That’s what Tom Carter did to create China: Portrait of a People.

The consensus among ‘backpackers’ is that China is probably the single most challenging country in the world to visit on foot. That by itself should tell you a lot.

There are more than 1.3 billion people in China. Besides the majority Han Chinese, the population includes fifty-six ethnic groups numbering over one hundred million. Carter saw it all from the teenage girl living in Chengdu dressed like an American punk rocker to the soot covered coal miner in Southern Shanxi. Carter’s camera lens captured the complexity and diversity of China.

Tom Carter is a guerrilla hit and run photojournalist with a camera instead of a grenade launcher.  To take the up close and personal pictures in ‘Portrait of  a People’, Carter risked jail; almost froze on the way to Tibet; faced exhaustion and hunger; was beaten by drunks; plagued by viral infections, and risked being shot by North Korean border guards.  The hundreds of photos in ‘Portrait’ are priceless. I doubt if there will ever be another book about China like this one. From Inner Mongolian nomads to newlyweds in Hong Kong, Carter saw it all.

There is an old saying that a picture is equal to a thousand words. Great pictures tell stories.

In ‘China: Portrait of a People’, each picture is worth ten thousand words or maybe more. Carter’s photojournalist study of China stands alone in its genre as it focuses expressly on the Chinese people. Carter  backpacked to remote areas to visit China’s minorities like the thousand year old Phoenix Village perched over the Tuo Jiang River or the seventy-five year old Pai Yao minority farmer in his red turban.

To reach some locations, Carter had to travel on foot into some seriously rugged terrain. To get an idea what I’m talking about, consider that China, almost the size of the United States, has only sixteen percent of its land for growing crops. The rest is either mountains or deserts.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will see what happens when a modern day Sir Richard Francis Burton spends two years backpacking through China’s thirty-three provinces and autonomous regions, not once but twice. During this odyssey, Carter discovered that the Chinese are a friendly, open hearted people.

If you plan to visit China, buy this book before you go. On the other hand, if you are an armchair tourist that never strays far from home, Carter’s Rembrandt ‘Portrait’ of China will not disappoint. You will chuckle when you see the young, twin boys walking out of the river after a swim or watch the eight year old acrobat student at Wuqiao bending herself like a folded sheet of paper.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will start a vicarious journey visiting China like few have done even among the Chinese. You will travel on this 35,000 mile journey without leaving your house, bus or jet seat.

There is no way that this review can do justice for ’China: Portrait of a People’. To try would require millions of words. Seeing is believing. What are you waiting for? Take that first step.

Discover Tom Carter’s Guest Post at 24 Hours in Qiannianyaozhai

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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