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Is Sci-Fi the Next Big Chinese Cultural Export After Kung Fu?

By Malcolm Surer
Sci-fi author and translator Ken Liu speaks at a Xingyun (Nebula) Award for Global Chinese Science Fiction forum at the Inside-Out Theatre in Beijing in November 2014. Photo: IC
Sci-fi author and translator Ken Liu speaks at a Xingyun (Nebula) Award for Global Chinese Science Fiction forum at the Inside-Out Theatre in Beijing in November 2014. Photo: IC

Translating Chinese novels to English has long been a way to “bridge” the cultural divide of ideas between China and the rest of the world. In one genre in particular, translations have created a supernova of discussions on the talent emanating from the Middle Kingdom. That’s science fiction. Chinese sci-fi has taken the West by storm in recent years, with Chinese authors bagging top awards including the Hugo, considered the equivalent of the Pulitzer for this genre, and former U.S. President Barack Obama adding a volume of Chinese sci-fi to his reading list.

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