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Sci-Fi "most internationalized" literary genre: Chinese writer Liu Cixin

By  Wang Fan (Xinhua)    08:11, June 01, 2015

NEW YORK, May 30 -- Compared with other literature, science fiction is a genre best able to transcend cultural boundaries, as what it depicts is a universal crisis facing the entire human race, China's leading sci-fi writer Liu Cixin told Xinhua.

"For instance, the doomsday portrait in a sci-fi novel is an apocalyptical scene descending on the entire human race, rather than a single race," he said.

From this perspective, science fiction is capable of being understood by the peoples of all nations, Liu said at the just-concluded BookExpo America (BEA) 2015 held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

A computer engineer by profession, Liu now reigns as China's best-selling science-fiction writer, winning numerous literary awards, including China's Galaxy Award.

His most popular science-fiction series -- Remembrance of Earth's Past -- sold more than 1.5 million copies in its original Chinese language, after the first title in the three-book series.

The trilogy tells the story of a civilization in another solar system that is facing extinction and chooses to invade the Earth to save itself.

The English translation of the first book of the series, published by Tor Books in the United Stateslast November, has also gone down well with its foreign readers with more than 20,000 copies being sold, Liu said.

"The sales figure is already very impressive and will grow rapidly as the series was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and Hugo Award for Best Novel," Liu noted.

Liu's growing popularity among readers beyond China was also evident at a book signing event organized by Tor Books on the sidelines of BEA. A large crowd of foreign readers lined up in a bookstore waiting for Liu's arrival.

"Nearly 100 books were signed out within half an hour, with more than 90 percent being American readers," a fan of Liu said.

While the series scores impressively in overseas market, Liu said China's science fiction still has a long way to go before reaching the world-class level.

Recently, warnings about the prospect of artificial intelligence took on a new weight following dire predictions from heavyweights like Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates that the full development of supercomputer could lead humanity to extinction, words usually seen in sci-fi novel or movies.

On the hotly debated topic, the sic-fi author shared his insights with Xinhua. "I think these words are alarmist," he said, referring to an article predicting the abominations people create will become their masters by 2040.

There are formidable challenges that hold back the human being from obtaining the power to build a computer with human-level intelligent in the foreseeable future, he said.

For instance, human brain contains 100 billion neurons, and that makes the task of developing software that could mimic the brain's neural network seem like a hopeless project, Liu said.

"This is a mistaken assumption that all the technological obstacles that are theoretically solvable will be removed in reality sooner or later," he said.

Meanwhile, Liu warned that "we have underestimated the power of the machine, as people tend to associate it with emotionally intelligent robots which we can communicated with."

However, once it is created, there is no way for people to understand what it will do, he said, "Its increased cognitive ability over us would be vaster than the anti-human gap."

The BEA is the most important international book fair in North America that dates back to 1947.

This year, China was invited as a Guest of Honor for BEA 2015's Global Market Forum program. Twenty-five renowned Chinese authors had dialogue and interaction with their foreign peers and readers during the expo.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Huang Jin)

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