If This Goes On…

ten yearsWork continues over at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, where I’ve contributed new entries on the Chinese tomb-raiding author Tianxia Bachang, and the controversial Cantonese polemic Ten Years (pictured), about life in a near-future Hong Kong. The China entries in the SFE constitute a book within a book, covering everything from early pioneers to Party people, and it’s all online for free, because that’s how they roll. Blessings of the state, blessings of the masses…

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Yoshiki Tanaka

gineiNow up in the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, my justifiably massive entry on the Japanese author Yoshiki Tanaka. Despite being a familiar name to anime fans and manga readers, this is the first time anyone has published an overview of his work, and even this 2500-word behemoth misses out a lot of his detective fiction and Sinology publications.

However, there’s plenty there on The Legend of the Galactic Heroes and the Heroic Legend of Arslan, as well as his lesser-known works like the Victorian Horror Adventures and Red Hot Dragoon.

Bodacious Data

b-pirate-1-2Work continues over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with yours truly writing entries about Yuichi Sasamoto, creator of Bodacious Space Pirates, and Kazumasa Hirai, creator of Harmagedon. The wordcount of my combined Japan and China entries in the SFE is now actually bigger than Anime: A History, and it’s all available for free.

Haruki Kadokawa’s Struggle

kadokawa pictureOver at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the need to revise the entry for the blockbuster flop Virus led me to also write a new entry on its producer, the flamboyant, ever-entertaining Haruki Kadokawa. That’s him in the picture, dressed as a samurai on a Tokyo overpass, photographed by Annie Leibowitz, with a book title that’s the same in Japanese as Mein Kampf. Because if you’re that rich, you would, wouldn’t you?

Encyclopedia Update

veiled shanghaiWork continues apace on the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with my most recent contributions including a place-holder entry on Ken Liu. I say place-holder because I am sure he will be winning a bunch more awards before long. I’ve also written entries on Ryu Murakami and Hiromu Arakawa, but I’m probably proudest of the one I’ve done on Tora Kizu. I like “The Wedding Shrouded in Grey” so much that I’m actually translating it at the moment with Motoko Tamamuro, although I have no idea who would be interested in buying a Japanese steampunk story from 1927.

Chinese Whispers

Science fiction is not as easy to find in China as one might think. I never saw a massive “SCI-FI” section in Chinese bookshops, although there were often entire bays dedicated to internet novels and how-to-draw manga books; SF is more often than not still lumped in with children’s fiction. It’s a long story.

I pestered numerous newsstand vendors in four or five Chinese cities for the latest issue of Kehuan Shijie (“SF World”, pictured), but only struck gold outside the gates of the Beijing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics, where the passing traffic might be reasonably expected to be interested in all that Buck Rogers stuff. Otherwise, science fiction in China, with a readership in the tens of thousands, is still something of a minority interest in the People’s Republic.

Which makes it all the more ironic that I should get back to my office and find in my in-tray two publications that massively increase the footprint of Chinese science fiction abroad. A double-issue of Renditions, published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is packed with translations of Chinese SF, including stories by Liu Cixin, Han Song, La La, Zhao Haihong, Chi Hui and Xia Jia. There’s also some intriguing proto-sf such as a piece from 1912 by Xu Zhuodai, as well as an incredible exercise in academic recursion: a translation into English of Lu Xun’s translation into Chinese of a Japanese translation of a story by Anna Louise Strong, showing to what degree Chinese whispers might be reasonably said to have set in.

Fei Dao, another author in Renditions, also shows up in the latest issue of Science Fiction Studies under his real name of Jia Liyuan, with a different hat on as a doctoral candidate in Chinese literature. The new SFS is a China special issue, and includes articles about utopias in Chinese fiction, Chinese SF movies, alien contact and the role played by translation in the spread of the medium, as well as non-fiction essays by Liu Cixin, Han Song and Wu Yan. In my role as a contributing editor to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I was asked to be a peer reviewer on several of the papers in this issue, and I was very impressed with the level of achievement. It’s certainly very salutary, albeit rather odd, to see the amount of work on Chinese SF in English increasingly so exponentially, almost overnight.