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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
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!


Upcoming: June session

1923—a Fantasy /《一九二三年科幻故事》by Zhao Haihong /  赵海虹
Translated by Nicky Harman and Pang Zhaoxia (2012)

Video call with the author with the LCSFG

Sunday 27th June - London: 14:00 = Beijing 21:00
lasting a maximum of 1hr.

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.
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"Everyone needs ideals in life, don’t they?
Jia Su’s ideal was to create a machine.
Bubbles’s ideal was to make revolution.
Meiying’s ideal was to make an honest woman of herself.
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In the middle of the lab stood a gigantic figure made of brass, its many arms outstretched like a thousand-armed Buddhist guardian god. In each hand, there were glass containers of different colors and sizes. The liquids they held were of colors seen only in dreams. They oscillated and sang."
- from 1923—a Fantasy /《一九二三年科幻故事》by Zhao Haihong /  赵海虹
Translated by Nicky Harman and Pang Zhaoxia (2012)
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We're thrilled to invite author Zhao Haihong to join our next meeting in late June, to discuss her story 1923—a Fantasy, translated by Nicky Harman and Pang Zhaoxia.

In this short story, a great-grandchild discovers an old, padlocked box, kept hidden throughout the Cultural Revolution, that supposedly holds the family’s genealogical records. Instead, the contents intriguingly reveals to be two sealed containers of liquids. They are a part of the great-grandfather's innovation, the 'aqua-dream machine', which was a device that used "the power of water to retain memory.”

1923—a Fantasy is a confluence of narratives in the unstable China of the 1920s: a nearly forgotten moment in a family's history; the love story between hostess dancer Meiying and Western-educated Jia Su; his solidarity with Bubbles the revolutionary, and the haziness of Jia Su's laboratory of liquid and steam memories. Zhao's writing style allows for an intimate-at-a-distance approach to the characters, holding the nostaligia for '20s Shanghai at an arms length by soundtracking the story with an informed contextualisation of the period's social unease.

Without You / 如果沒有你 by Bai Guang / 白光 song
龍華的桃花 / Peach Blossoms Of Longhua by Zhou Xuan / 周璇  song
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The English translation by Nicky Harman and Pang Zhaoxia first appeared in scholar Mingwei Song's guest edit, 'Special Chinese SF', of Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation Magazine, issue 77/78, Spring & Autumn 2012, and then republished in his 2018 anthology, The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chinese Science Fiction. The original Chinese version was published in 2007's fifth issue of《世界科幻博览》. Please get in touch if you need access to these texts.

Please read the story ahead of the session, and take the opportunity to chat with Zhao Haihong 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 the event.
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Zhao Haihong has an M.A. in English literature from Zhejiang University and teaches English literature in Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou, China. She started writing science fiction in 1996, and has received the Galaxy Award from Science Fiction World Magazine, the Soong Ching Ling Children’s Literature Award, and the sixth National Writers Association Award for outstanding children’s literature in China. Her first story collection, Eyes of the Birches, was published in 1999.


Previously: May session

The Final Test  /《毕业考试》 by Ti Sha /  提沙
Translated by Judith Huang (2021)

Video call with the author Ti Sha 提沙 with the LCSFG
Sunday 6th June

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"! You realize that the test question is: “Prove that you have free will.”

You vaguely remember that the slogan associated with the phrase “free will” had an important historical significance, but that was at the beginning of the METÆlTitanic Era.

In modern contexts, this phrase is rarely mentioned.

After all, the words “free-(dom)” and “will” have long since been relegated to the <imprecisebibliotechnicon/> and have been abolished. You’ve only caught glimpses of them by chance, if they appeared to wash ashore as archaeological infofragments. But, unfortunately, being in VR, you can’t access ^[exogenous databases]."

- from The Final Test《毕业考试》 by Ti Sha /  提沙
Translated by Judith Huang (2021)
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It was great fun to host author Ti Sha a few weeks ago at our previous meeting, to discuss his story The Final Test, translated by Judith Huang (2021). Thanks to Ti Sha for expanding on his themes with us and our fantastic attendees, calling in from sunny places and even a forest... as always, we appreciate you sharing your time with us!

In this short science fiction piece, you are the protagonist. As you gain knowledge of what you are, you are also demanded by a lab-coated oppressive species to contend with who you could be. With the dominating question of whether free will is a genuine concept you can act on, the opposition being the cause and effect laws of physics, Ti Sha spins philosophy, humour and speculative evolutions of the mind and body in this playful narrative.

To conclude the English piece, writer and translator Judith Huang generously includes a brilliant note on her translation process and highlights specific ideas, like on what 'passing' means here, and the visual interpretation from the Chinese language into English with accents of code script styling. It is an insightful read that reinstates to us the depth of translation works.

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You may find it in its English translation by Judith Huang here in issue 10 (March 2021) of Future Science Fiction Digest, which you can support through here. The original Chinese version is available here.
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Ti Sha (提沙) has enjoyed reading SF & fantasy since he was young, which prompted him to become a PhD in theoretical physics. After playing with tiny particles e.g. quarks and gluons for a few years, he moved to Chicago and currently works as an alchemist using Python & C++. He also enjoys birding and finding wildlife in forests.

Judith Huang (錫影) is an Australian-based Singaporean multimedia creator, poet, author, sometime-journalist, failed-academic, translator, composer, musician, educator, serial-arts-collective-founder, Web 1.0 entrepreneur and aspiring-VR-creator. Her first novel, Sofia and the Utopia Machine, was shortlisted for the EBFP 2017 and Singapore Book Awards 2019. Judith counts bunny-minding, human-systems-hacking, Harvard-alumni-interviewing, hackerspace-running, truth-telling and propaganda-dissemination as her hobbies.


WeChat ID: sfinlondon


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

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