Wednesday, May 12, 2010



I'm on the road again, so this will be brief.

My friend Haihong Zhao has published an English translation of her story, "Exuviation" in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

This is an extremely interesting time for Chinese science fiction.   For a long time SF was discouraged in China as a frivolous waste of time.  Then the argument was successfully made that it would be useful in encouraging imagination in young people.  This was a shrewd observation.  Its truth is, I think, self-evident, and it comes at a time not long before the emphasis on manufacture shifts to an emphasis on design.

As a result (I'm oversimplifying here, you understand, based on things I've heard and may have imperfectly understood), Chinese SF exists in an analogue of American "Golden Age" science fiction -- strongly emphasizing science, and if possible,adventure as well.

"Exuviation" is something different, an evolutionary step forward, and (this, I think, speaks well for the future of SF in China), the recipient of the Galaxy Award.  It is to American eyes a very strange story indeed, and thus particularly valuable.

But don't take my word for it.  Pick up a copy and decide for yourself.

And speaking of China . . .

It's no secret that the Great Firewall of China blocks sites like  Which was very frustrating when I was blogging about how well my Chinese hosts had treated me and none of my friends there could access this site and see how grateful I was.

Now that I've got an upcoming book to flog, I'm thinking of creating a new blog with a less easily misinterpreted name than Flogging Babel.  Knowing that several of my readers have lived in China and have a deep understanding of its relationship with the web, I thought I'd ask this question publicly:  Are there any blog-creating sites which are readily available to Chinese citizens?  Or should I simply rent some virtual land on the Web and place my blog there?

Any advice you can offer me would be gratefully received.



Pat J said...

Do you own the domain ? If so, I suggest setting up a WordPress blog at, say,[darger and surplus book title] .

JJM said...

I would earnestly suggest you find a permanent name for the blog and stick to it. Please don't ask your readers to keep finding you every few years. Follow Pat J's advice.

Unknown said...

I read Exuviation based on your recommendation. I enjoyed it. What did you mean when you said it is "strange to American eyes"? In what way did you find it strange?

It did not read like a Golden Age science fiction story to me, and I suppose that is part of your point, but though it wasn't a typical story, it does seem to be within the bounds of what one might encounter in science fiction written in English speaking countries.

It does have an interesting theme of being true to yourself and how that might not be compatible with the incentives and definition of success in the world around you.

Then again, I am Canadian, and perhaps that lends a familiarity with weird identity issues that makes "Canadian eyes" different enough from "American eyes" to make a difference. I figured "North American eyes" would be approximately the same, but maybe that accounts for me finding it not that strange?

David Stone said...

I have also have found that Chinese science fiction (what little I have read) has seemed to me to be a bit too heavy on exposition- specifically teaching the reader about scientific phenomenon and technology, speculative or otherwise. There is too much "tell" and not enough passive "show" for my taste. Throughout the 20th century many kinds of genre fiction in China had to justify their existence in terms of social value (their potential to "educate" people), which has it's roots all the way back in the New Culture movement in the early 20th century.

I presume one reason that SFW has been around for so long, surviving even in politically very repressive eras, is because it strongly emphasized SF as a form of popular science education for young people. I don't think this has necessarily been the case for SFW or science fiction in general in China for many years now, but I think its mark can still be seen, from what I have encountered so far. It would be a huge mistake to make sweeping generalizations about Chinese SF in general though, of course.