Real culture on show in sci-fi world

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Chinese sci-fi productions are gaining ground on the world stage with Chinese philosophy and aesthetics finding increasing presence in sci-fi novels, movies, animations and video games.

A new novel by the Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang, which was released at the recent 2021 Children's Science Fiction Conference in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, incorporates Chinese cultural elements and history into sci-fi narratives.

"The new book embodies wuxia ('martial arts heroes') and ranger spirits," Hao says, adding that she hopes to explore a sci-fi style with Chinese features and hero characters in her creations.

China's sci-fi industry came into the international spotlight when Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award in 2015 for his best-seller The Three-Body Problem, the first part of the epic Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy.

"Sci-fi transcends boundaries. It is the literature genre that resonates the most among people from different countries and cultural backgrounds," Liu says.

The trilogy has since been published in some 26 languages.

In recent years, Chinese sci-fi has been developing on a fast track. The total output of the industry stood at 65.87 billion yuan ($10.32 billion) in 2019, according to an industry report released in 2020.

"As China gains more global attention, the development of Chinese sci-fi has been brought into focus," says Wu Yan, director of the Research Center for Science and Human Imagination at the Southern University of Science and Technology.

SFRA Review, a publication of the US-based Science Fiction Research Association, published research in two issues in 2020 and 2021, to study Chinese sci-fi literature.

Among other sci-fi products, games registered a stellar performance, the report says. In the first half of 2020, the output value of the sector topped 22 billion yuan.

"We are working with sci-fi writers to blend fantasies about the future into the games' worldview and art design," says Guo Zhi, a game producer at TiMi J3 Studio.

Guo says that many elements of the studio's games originated in Chinese sci-fi productions, and he expects Chinese sci-fi to boom in the global market with games as a carrier.

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