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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: July session

 On Miluo River/《汨罗江上》(2008)by Xia Jia /
Translated by Emily Jin (2020)


Video call with the author Xia Jia with the LCSFG
Sunday 1st August
London 14:00 = Beijing 21:00

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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"“G-56 shook her head. “The whole exam process is controlled with precision. We take a snippet out of history the same way we make a copy of a part of a music tape; since this is only a copy, we can use it as many times as we want without affecting the original version.”
“Even if there’s no influence to actual history, you can’t really mess around, can you?” Bo Yang stared at the misty water out the window. ”
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“The T-mail you are reading right now comes from the year of 2077, from the trembling hands of a ninety-year-old woman. This is how I’ve been corresponding with you since last August, for almost a whole year. Six T-mails and a clumsy work of science fiction: they are like the thread of a spider, thin yet strong, connecting two different points in time.”
- from On Miluo River /《汨罗江上》(2008)by Xia Jia /
Translated by Emily Jin (2020)

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On Miluo River is a fictional exchange of 'T-mail' messages in 2006 and 2007 between an unnamed young emerging writer and author Mr. Xiaoding, who she admires. While sharing thoughts on the changing seasons and receiving his writing encouragements, the protagonist also attaches files of the working draft of her story titled "On Miluo River" throughout the exchange for his feedback. It is a historical fiction that questions the porousness of fixed timelines, through the character Bo Yang's time travel quests for an examination. Yet there is further twist in timeline activities conducted by the protagonist author herself. How plentiful is time, if it can be changed?

In the author's note, Xia Jia shares that the characters are inspired by, and pay homage to, the SF stories Patient 2047-9 (Science Fiction World, April 2000) and A Strip of Sky (Science Fiction World, August 2000)” by the late author Liu Wenyang 柳文扬, to whom this story is dedicated. Known by his penname Xiaoding, science fiction writer Liu Wenyang passed away in 2007 at the age of 37. Xia Jia's On Miluo River lifts from her own diary entries, words unspoken and hopes into the future, as a thoughful remembrance of the author.

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You may find it in its English translation by Emily Jin here in A Summer Beyond Your Reach (2020), on Clarkesworld Books, a new translation imprint by Clarkesworld Magazine / Wyrm Publishing. It is Xia Jia's first collection of English translated stories, and was crowdfunded by the publisher and 1063 loyal readers, totaling US$34,000. It was officially published earlier this year, and delivers 14 short SF stories by Xia Jia, half of which are newly commissioned translations of her works. The original Chinese version 《汨罗江上》(2008)is available here.

The LCSFG have previously read and discussed two works by Xia Jia, The Psychology Game /《心理游戏》(2015) (for our July 2019 session) and Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy / 《2044年春节旧事》(2014) (January 2020)
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Xia Jia (aka Wang Yao) is Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Xi’an Jiaotong University and has been publishing speculative fiction since college. She is a seven-time winner of the Galaxy Award, China's most prestigious science fiction award and has published three science fiction collections (in Chinese): The Demon-Enslaving Flask (2012), A Time Beyond Your Reach (2017), and Xi'an City Is Falling Down (2018). Her first English language short story collection, A Summer Beyond Your Reach, will be the first book published by Clarkesworld Books. She's also engaged in other science fiction related works, including academic research, translation, screenwriting, and teaching creative writing.

Emily Jin is a translator of science fiction and fantasy, translating Chinese into English and the other way around. She graduated from Wellesley College, Massachusetts in 2017, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literature at Yale University. She is one of the core members of the Clarkesworld-Storycom collaborative project on publishing English translations of Chinese science fiction.



Previously: 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

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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.
*     *     *
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 were incredibly happy to have hosted author Zhao Haihong for our previous meeting in late June, to discuss her story 1923—a Fantasy, translated by Nicky Harman and Pang Zhaoxia. Thank you to everyone who joined us and especially Zhao Haihong for a wonderful session, even illustrating some of the ideas through song as well as conversation!

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》.
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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.


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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