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Why are foreign readers suddenly so enamored with Chinese science fiction?

(People's Daily Online)    15:44, August 23, 2016
Why are foreign readers suddenly so enamored with Chinese science fiction?
Hao Jingfang, the winner of this year's Hugo Award, speaks in Beijing in July. (Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua)

On Aug. 20, Chinese science fiction writer Hao Jingfang took home the Hugo Award for best novelette with her novel "Folding Beijing." Hao's win came exactly one year after another Chinese writer, Liu Cixin, won the best novel prize for his "The Three-Body Problem."

Many people are wondering whether this series of victories signals the emergence of Chinese science fiction into the greater arena of world literature. Hao said that she hopes winning the award will help to boost the popularity of science fiction in China.

On the same day Hao won the prize, it was also announced at the Shanghai Book Fair that an English version of the whole "The Three-Body Problem" trilogy will be published.

“Since 'The Three-Body Problem' was awarded the Hugo prize last year, we can feel that Chinese science fiction novels have become more influential in the world, and this is somewhat associated with China’s rising economic status,” said Yao Haijun, vice editor-in-chief of Science Fiction World, a monthly science fiction magazine published in China.

Since the publication of its English edition in November 2014, more than 160,000 copies of "The Three-Body Problem," translated by Ken Liu, have been circulated globally. Mainstream Western media, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, have also published positive reviews of the book.

But why have foreign readers so suddenly fallen in love with Chinese science fiction? According to Liu Cixin, science fiction is becoming an avenue for the outside world to understand China. Yao agrees, remarking that many American readers are using the genre to speculate on China's future landscape.

“Chinese science fiction is embracing an unprecedented opportunity,” Liu Cixin confirmed.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Hongyu,Bianji)

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