By Publishing Perspectives
Science fiction was introduced into China during the late Quin Dynasty; seen as a “form of enlightenment for ordinary Chinese people.” But since then, the only Chinese sci-fi that has been translated into other languages has been the occasional short story. Until now.
The Chinese People’s Daily Online reported that Yao Haijun, the deputy director of Science Fiction World (SFW), the world’s biggest selling science fiction periodical, has signed a contract that will make award-winning author Liu Cixin’s “Three Body” trilogy the first full-length sci-fi work to be translated for an overseas audience, calling it “a great leap for the Chinese sci-fi industry.”
With over 400,000 copies sold in Chinese, the three-part series, which tells the story of centuries of conflict and war between an alien civilization and mankind, will be translated into English within the next six months and jointly published in both print and digital forms by China Educational Publications Import and Export Corporation, Ltd., and SFW.
But while both Yao and the publishers are confident in the trilogy’s success, Liu, a one-time computer engineer, remains uncertain as to the reaction his work will receive in the West.
“Whether Americans can understand Chinese sci-fi remains a big question. America is still the center of the world’s sci-fi writing, and we are actually trying to work from the edge to the center,” Liu said. “It’s more to demonstrate that the image of the Chinese people as an agricultural nation facing the land and turning their backs to the sky is changing, and that our view of the universe is expanding.”