As exploding firecrackers mark the beginning of the Spring Festival, Liu Cixin is rewriting Chinese history, starting with the Cultural Revolution and ending five centuries later.
Liu, one of the most famous science fiction writers in China, plans to spend the New Year holidays crafting his latest fantasy.
"The novel - called the "Bygone Stories of Earth" - portrays Ye Wenjie, a young Chinese girl plunged into despair by the cultural revolution, in which her father, a science professor, was murdered by his crazy students. She receives hope in the form of a message from aliens in outer space who say they are coming to conquer earth and cleanse it of evil, Liu explains.
The novelist, who grew up reading Jules Verne and Arthur Clarke, is a seven-time winner of the Milky Way Prize, the top Sci-Fi writing award on the Chinese mainland.
He has achieved all this as a part-timer. By day, he works as an electronics engineer in a power plant in north China's coal-rich province of Shanxi. He usually starts writing after 11 p.m. after his seven-year-old daughter goes to bed.
Since his first publication in 1999, Liu has produced more than 30 short stories and five full-length novels, writing everything from a story about the Earth mutating into a spaceship to a tale of a supernova explosion that leaves behind a world of children.
"I want to retell history by portraying humanity in the face of crazy and immoral beings," said the 44-year-old man, sporting a huge pair of gilded-rim glasses.
"I am influenced most by Arthur Clarke's quest for the ultimate truth of the cosmos - what are the limits of the cosmos, where do we come from and where we are heading," said Liu, who has been nicknamed Da Liu, meaning Big Bro Liu, by his fans.
Liu often uses themes from contemporary China in his work. In his book "Underground Fire", he focused on coal mine tragedies in his hometown in Shanxi. Another book, "Chinese Sun", published in 2002, preempted China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, journey into space a year later.
"Chinese Sun" also addresses the subject of migrant workers. Liu depicts an uneducated shoe-polisher named Shui Wa, meaning Water Kid. The hero was born in a small village ravaged by severe drought and abject poverty.