Minisode 8: The Three Body Problem and Science Fiction in China
Join us for this minisode discussion of internationally renowned author Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel The Three Body Problem and the history of science fiction in China.
A former software engineer, Liu Cixin began serializing The Three Body Problem in 2006 and it was published as a book in 2008. A story about first contact with alien life forms attempting to escape from their “three-body” planetary system, much of the book is set during a tumultuous moment in Chinese history: the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (see Episode 5: Balzac and the Chinese Cultural Revolution for a discussion of this time period). The English translation even opens during the 1960s, though Liu felt he could not do so in the original Chinese serialization because the Cultural Revolution was, and remains, a controversial topic in China.
Although currently experiencing a surge in popularity in China, science fiction as a genre can actually be traced back to the Republican era (1911-1948), including works by the celebrated twentieth novelist Lao She. For a more in depth discussion on Lao She’s sci-fi novel Cat Country, how the genre of science fiction as a whole has faced political and perception problems, and an short interview on the actual science in Liu’s books with quantum physicist Dr. Colin West, listen to the episode below!
References and Further Reading:
“China: When the Cats Rule,” New York Review of Books
“China’s Arthur C. Clarke,” The New Yorker
Sheng, Anfeng. "A Cultural Critique in the Age of Darkness: Reinterpreting Lao She's Allegorical Novel Cat Country." Neohelicon 37, no. 2 (12, 2010): 373-390.
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