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London Chinese Science Fiction Group


We are a monthly meet-up that read, share and discuss Chinese language sci-fi and speculative fiction in translation - from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the diaspora
Based in London (UCL) and online

Here is a summary of last month's session, news about our upcoming reading and meeting. Remember to follow our social media and WeChat accounts linked in this newsletter!


It's Our 2nd Anniversary!


Thank you to every reader who has supported us in these past two years by joining our sessions. Whether joining regularly or occassionally, engaging enthusiastically or by 'just listening-in', it's hugely appreciated and reminds us that it's a worthwhile programme to continue doing our best in shaping.

In our past year online, we've also been honoured to host the authors and translators of our selected stories for each monthly meeting. We've connected across continents and timezones, and realise we have nurtured a special bridge between storytellers and readers to directly share ideas and comments.

This is something only imaginable, when I started the LCSFG with Lyu Guangzhao, and Mia Ma Chen's assistance, a couple of springtimes ago over sweet cups of bubble tea. We've made a lot of friends along the way, wonderful indiviuals as well as other groups –
including the London Science Fiction Research Association (LSFRC), British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) and Rosetta Science Fiction Fantasy Award (SFFRA) – and hope we can continue learning, creating and collaborating with you all.

There are more things we'd like to do, so thank you for staying with us!

- Angela Chan [on behalf of LCSFG]


Upcoming: April session

My Country Does Not Dream / 《我的祖国不做梦》by Han Song / 韩松, translated by Nathaniel Isaacson (2020)


Video call with the author Han Song with the LCSFG

Sunday 2nd May - London: 14:00 = Beijing 21:00
lasting about 1hr30 (the date is a little later in the month than usual to accomodate our guest)
Online: Zoom - reply to this email with "Count me in for LCSFG's next meeting!" and we'll send you a video call link and password a day before the session.
 *   *   *

""Not now. Without preparation, waking a sleepwalker is dangerous, since their whole system is in thrall of powerful impulses,” the foreigner said coldly. “Sleepwalkers are fixated entirely on one thing—attaining their desires. These desires are independent, coming from their subconscious, and they are completely disconnected from their waking life.”

But, Xiao Ji wondered, hadn’t he seen that these powerful urges were indeed very strongly tied to Chinese people’s day-to-day lives? How did they get into people’s heads? How did those mysterious microwave stations stimulate people to work hard and spend hard, instead of committing murder and arson? He could not help but be shocked at China’s technological attainment."
- from My Country Does Not Dream / 《我的祖国不做梦》by Han Song / 韩松, translated by Nathaniel Isaacson (2020) in Exploring Dark Fiction #5: A Primer to Han Song ed. Eric J. Guignard
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We're excited to host Han Song for our LCSFG 2nd anniversary session, and we will be discussing his short story My Country Does Not Dream / 《我的祖国不做梦》(previously also known as My Homeland Does Not Dream). It's a brilliantly dark and thought-provoking piece that sets alarm bells back onto our societal consciousness. Summarised in the end of chapter commentary:

"The tale is desperate and hopeless, generating a morose feeling in general (or constructing, as one critic calls it, a “gloomy” China), and the way the story brings it all down to disruption of the family unit makes it all the more personal and effective. The ending offers a corruption of the idea of “choice”—a choice of withdrawal and a giving up of liberty altogether. It is one of the most powerful “zombie” stories you’ll read for that reason."

—Michael Arnzen, PhD, story commentary in the anthology

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You may find it in its English translation by Nathaniel Isaacson in Exploring Dark Fiction #5: A Primer to Han Song ed. Eric J. Guignard, which you can support through Dark Moon Books here, and do email us should you have access barriers. The original Chinese version is available here

Please read the story ahead of the session, and take the opportunity to chat with Han Song about its themes. If you don't get a chance to read the story until afterwards, do feel welcome to join nonetheless. As always, please respond to us by email and we'll send you the Zoom details a day prior.
*   *   *

Han Song is considered one of the three most important voices in contemporary Chinese science fiction (along with Liu Cixin and Wang Jinkang), He is a multiple recipient of the Chinese Galaxy Award (China's highest profile sci-fi prize), as well as the Chinese Nebula Award and Asian-Pacific Sci-fi Gravity Award. Song bridges new developments in science and subjects of cultural and social dynamics with stories of dystopia, governmental conspiracy, and subversive horror, earning praise for his work as "absurdly dark," while also reigniting a science fiction renaissance.

Nathaniel Isaacson is an associate professor of modern Chinese literature in the department of foreign languages and literature at North Carolina State University. His research interests include Chinese science fiction, Chinese cinema, cultural studies, and literary translation. Nathaniel has published articles in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures (2016) and in journals including Xiandai wenxue and Science Fiction Studies, as well as translations of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction in the translation journals Renditions, Pathlight, and Chinese Literature Today. His book, Celestial Empire: The Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction (2017), examines the emergence of science fiction in late Qing China and the relationship between science fiction and orientalism.


Previously: March session

"The Facecrafter" /《捏脸师》(2017) by Anna Wu / 吴霜, translated by Emily Jin (2018)
Sunday 28th March, video call with the author and the London Chinese Science Fiction Group

We had a fantastic event with Anna Wu, thank you again for joining us from China and everyone in attendance for sharing together!
*   *   *

"Lost in thought, Ling Bai gazed intently at the tiny plant inside the test tube and muttered. “The ability to navigate between dimensions . . . these great Masters of Art can see the world in a way that we cannot.”

"Ling Xi shut her eyes, only daring to peer again after the blinding light had faded. The long and the feng had both disappeared. The stage was completely empty save for a massive hypercube—the exact one that Ling Xi had saw in the virtual world.

The hypercube disintegrated. From its core, thousands of works of art gradually ascended: paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, literature, and music . . . all of which were the greatest masterpieces of humankind. Bathed in a faint golden halo, the artworks flew toward the audience, dashing past every pair of eyes."

- from "The Facecrafter" by Anna Wu, translated by Emily Jin
*   *   *
Ling Xi is the underground city's only 'art keeper' in the nuclear winter world. When her art collection suddenly disappears, Ling Xi's experiences in the VR realm also begin to leave her suspicious it is connected to a certain masked avatar, as well as her virtual friend Cang Jie. She consults her brother Ling Bai, to better understand the clues to regain the city's artworks. He is a plant geneticist failing to synthesize the DNA of Purpureus Herba grass, as a survival strategy for humankind, before their underground shelters fail. Together, they attempt to figure how the thief potentially drew dimensions to cross space and time into the virtual storage room.

The artists producing the superstar avatar idols of the VR world are known as the "Facecrafters", earning an incrediable amount of cybercoin. Hun Dun is known as the best of the creators, having produced the “The Zhu Lu Twelve” avatar idol group that envelopes the entertainment industry. Hun Dun's influence is godlike, even under the instruction of the Gods. Angered at humankind's neglect of the art collections underground, as well as their overall toxifying of the earth with radiation, it is unclear whether Hun Dun intends to save or exterminate humanity - until the last performance.

Anna Wu's story is a tapestry of mythology, history of the arts, science and science fiction, in which the course of events threatens to blanket humankind and its creativity under a blanker of darkness forever.
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The short story can be found in its original publication in Chinese as​《捏脸师》in Anna Wu's own science fiction novella collection, Twins《双生》(2017) (please email for a PDF courtesy of the author), and its English translation by Emily Jin in Issue 145 of Clarkesworld Magazine (October 2019) here.

Anna Wu (Wu Shuang) is a Chinese science fiction writer, film and TV play writer. Her film script, Cloud and Mist, won the Gold Medal of Originality for the Best Science Fiction Film of the Sixth Nebula Award for Global Chinese Science Fiction. Her works have been published in magazines, such as Galaxy's Edge and Science Fiction World. As translator, Anna's work includes stories for the science fiction collection, The Shape of Thought, by Ken Liu. Her own science fiction novella collection, Twins was published in June of 2017.


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London Chinese Sci-fi Group · 1 · A Street · London, London SE14 6DN · United Kingdom

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