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Chen Qiufan

The Torn Generation: Chinese Science Fiction in a Culture in Transition

Article translated by Ken Liu.

This past March, I attended the Huadi Literary Awards in Guangzhou, where my debut novel, The Waste Tide, was honored with the top distinction for genre (SF) fiction. Published in the capital of China’s most developed province, Huadi is the magazine supplement for the Yangcheng Evening News, one of the largest newspapers in the world by circulation (in excess of 1 million). This was also the second literary award my novel has received (after a Chinese Nebula). As a former Googler, I want to invoke the button that rarely gets pressed: “I’m feeling lucky!”

The Huadi Awards was a joint effort by the local government and media, and as one might expect, it was suffused with the trappings of officialdom. Even the ceremony itself was held in a government auditorium. The winners were led on a night tour of the Pearl River, and our hosts excitedly pointed out the splendor of the post-modern architecture on both shores. However, one of the winners, Chen Danqing, a noted liberal opinion leader and artist, reminisced about his childhood visit to Guangzhou in the midst of the Cultural Revolution.

[On generational labels, the complex realities of modern China, and science fiction as an instrument of progress and possibility…]

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