Why Chinese sci-fi phenomena like "The Three-Body Problem" are captivating global audiences-Xinhua

Why Chinese sci-fi phenomena like "The Three-Body Problem" are captivating global audiences

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-21 18:45:15

A woman visits an exhibition in Shanghai, east China, Feb. 24, 2021. An exhibition of Three-Body, an award-winning sci-fi trilogy by Liu Cixin, is held at Shanghai Tower. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiansong)

by Xinhua writer Zhang Yunlong

BEIJING, June 21 (Xinhua) -- In a major announcement at the 26th Shanghai International Film Festival, Enlight Media revealed that celebrated auteur Zhang Yimou will direct the film adaptation of "The Three-Body Problem." This news has rapidly captured the attention of global film and entertainment media, once again spotlighting the work and heightening international interest in Chinese sci-fi, following the earlier release of the Netflix adaptation of the same novel by Liu Cixin.

Over the past decade, China's reforms and innovations in the cultural sector have not only spurred the domestic cultural industry but have also enhanced China's influence on the global cultural stage. From the widespread acclaim of "The Three-Body Problem" among international readers to the overseas success of "The Wandering Earth" film series, Chinese sci-fi is making unprecedented inroads worldwide.

Han Song, president of the World Chinese Science Fiction Association, in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday, provided insights into why Chinese sci-fi works like "The Three-Body Problem" continue to attract global interest.

Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin (front R) autographs for sci-fi lovers during the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

"The Three-Body Problem," Liu Cixin's magnum opus, portrays humanity's struggle for survival against an existential threat from an alien civilization. The novel's expansive cosmic vision and profound philosophical reflections earned it the prestigious Hugo Award, one of the highest honors in the sci-fi genre.

"First and foremost, works like 'The Three-Body Problem' employ the universal language of science fiction, resonating with readers worldwide," said Han. Sci-fi, a literary and artistic form that emerged from the technological revolution, transcends borders and is universally comprehensible.

Moreover, these sci-fi works address issues that are of collective concern to humanity. For instance, works like "The Three-Body Problem" embody a sense of a community of shared future for humanity, delving into themes such as artificial intelligence, the machine revolution, new technological advancements, space exploration, bio-engineering, nanotechnology, ecological changes, and potential future crises. "This focus allows Chinese sci-fi to strike a chord globally," Han said.

These works also reflect Chinese perspectives on current technological revolutions and social transformations, marked by a distinctive Chinese imprint. Chen Qiufan's "The Waste Tide" addresses environmental issues, for instance. These narratives have garnered significant attention. "The world is keen to understand how Chinese people perceive these issues and looks forward to China's unique solutions and ideas," Han added.

People attend the premiere of the movie "The Wandering Earth II" at a theater in Giza, Egypt, March 11, 2023. (Xinhua/Sui Xiankai)

"Chinese sci-fi integrates unique thoughts derived from 5,000 years of civilization," Han said. For example, China's genre of "homeland sci-fi" embodies cultural concepts centered around family. In the film "The Wandering Earth," humanity joins hands to embark on a journey to move Earth to a new solar system to escape the Sun's impending expansion, a plan driven by a deep-seated sense of home and survival, contrasting sharply with the approaches seen in some Hollywood blockbusters.

"These new Chinese elements differ from the familiar Chinese icons like pandas, the Great Wall, cuisine, and martial arts," Han explained. "Instead, they represent a new spirit and style born from technological progress, reflecting the perspectives of China's new generation on the future, the world, and the universe, which are highly compelling."

The global fascination with and study of Chinese sci-fi mirrior the world's interest in China as the world's second-largest economy and its speculations about China's future. "Chinese sci-fi is a hot cultural phenomenon on a global scale, because of such attention and interest," Han concluded. 


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