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Domestic sci-fi sector has great potential for development

LI XIAODONG | 2017-11-27
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Visitors make themselves up as their favorite sci-fi characters at China Science Fiction Conferece.


Liu Cixin’s work the Three-body Problem won the Hugo Award of world sci-fi convention and China’s most prominent Galaxy Award. At the China Science Fiction Conference, a crowd of his fans waited to get his signature.

While discussing his change of careers from an engineer to a science fiction writer, Liu explained that the first time he gazed the stars and the night sky he thought they were magical. Liu never lost his fascination with the starry sky. Instead, his sense of wonder has only grown over the years. That was his original motivation to create a sci-fi work. 

“Compared with soft science fiction filled with casual assumption, hard science fiction heavily depends on core science and a reliable imagination. With the rapid development of modern technology, science has almost kept pace with imagination, and people even argue that ‘the future has arrived,’” Liu said. In terms of the characteristics of sci-fi, he said that the miracles in fiction will become obvious as soon as they are turned into reality. In fact, many sci-fi elements in the past have come true in our life.

Liu said that the Three Body Problem helped Chinese science fiction escape its marginal position and enter public view. Its success belongs neither to the Chinese sci-fi industry nor him. “Domestic science fiction has been at a disadvantage over the years. There are fewer than 30 science fiction writers in China who have an impact across the country and write constantly. At this point, the sector has a long way to go before it can achieve a leap,” Liu said.

China’s science fiction industry is still in its infancy. Ordinary people are most familiar with sci-fi magazines and films. The industry extends to a host of fields, including publishing, television, film, games and theme parks. The quality of sci-fi works and the number of sci-fi readers are unsatisfactory so far. For example, sales volume of long science fiction is no more than 100,000 copies per year. Some works only sell several thousand copies. The current market can barely support excellent writers financially and encourage their creation,” Liu stated.

“With the constant improvement of China’s economy and people’s living standards, many people have developed a keen interest in science fiction and an improved understanding of sci-fi products,” Liu said. About 1 million readers buy science fiction on a consistent basis. The whole industry urgently requires the support of the government. The sci-fi sector used to be niche, but attention from major media has brought it to the attention of the general public. Given the circumstances in recent years, China has great momentum for developing the science fiction industry. To our delight, a number of local governments have made efforts to promote the sector. For example, a detailed plan for a “sci-fi paradise” theme park in Chengdu has been put forward. It is only a matter of time before China can cultivate a massive number of sci-fi writers and readers in favorable enviornment.

Liu also suggested combining science fiction with television and film products, which will produce unexpected effects.