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A vision that is out of this world

Updated: 2023-10-24 06:15 ( China Daily )
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Liu Cixin returns an autographed book to a fan at the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, a five-day event that closed in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Liu Cixin, author of The Three-Body Problem trilogy, recently said at the 81st World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, that the golden age for China's sci-fi is yet to arrive, but it will come along with the advancement of time. China Daily interviewed the Hugo-award winner before the Worldcon, at the Another Planet Science Fiction Convention in Shanghai in late September. Here is what Liu says about the development of Chinese sci-fi and his writing since 2015, when he won the top award for a sci-fi novel.

Over the past eight years, what has been the development status and trends of Chinese sci-fi literature since you won the Hugo Award?

The most significant change is that sci-fi literature in China is no longer a marginal existence. It has gained attention from the general public and the media. It has come into the spotlight from a niche presence, which is its most significant change.

However, science fiction still needs further development. For example, the reader base, the quantity of influential authors and works are all lacking. So, it still has a significant potential for growth.

How will Chinese sci-fi develop further?

Sci-fi is driven by the broader societal context. Our society must maintain rapid development and technological progress. Rapid progress of society and technology will create an environment filled with a sense of the future, making the future highly appealing. Fundamentally, the development of sci-fi depends on that of the era.

Today, many technologies are advancing rapidly. Is this era making it more difficult or easier for sci-fi writers to create?

More difficult. Sci-fi is built upon a sense of wonder and estrangement from science. Now, science and technology have gradually penetrated our lives and are changing our reality. As a result, sci-fi has lost some of its original sense of wonder, making it a significant challenge for writers. Of course, sci-fi writers are trying to attract readers not by relying on the wonder of science, but by exploring different literary techniques and tapping into the potential to reflect reality. However, to be honest, the results of these efforts have not been too ideal.

Have you recently read any works, sci-fi or regular literature, that excited you?

To be honest, no.

What are your thoughts on the World Science Fiction Convention held in China?

It's an important event for Chinese science fiction. Its presence in China means that Chinese sci-fi has gained global attention. This event can promote the communication between Chinese and global sci-fi authors and readers.

It also allows many foreign authors, critics, and common sci-fi fans who may know little about China to experience the environment in which Chinese sci-fi has developed and gain a deeper understanding of it.

In our previous interview, you mentioned that you run 10,000 meters a day and swim several times a week. You also mentioned that your goal was to personally visit space when space travel becomes more affordable. Are you still adhering to this routine?

I am still maintaining my exercise routine, but the prospects of space travel have become more complex.

In the past, if you were an ordinary person going into space, you would have had some fun. But now, if I were to be one of the first people to go into space, it would become news. I don't want to be in the spotlight. Recent projects like Virgin's spaceflight program claim to take people into space, but you only get about 40 seconds to feel weightless, and it costs $200,000. Yeah, I still have the chance to go, but no, I don't want to become news.

I continue to exercise regularly, but it has mostly become a habit. Just as it's not easy to maintain an exercise routine, it's equally challenging to stop.

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