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London Chinese Sci-fi 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 our last session, news about our next one, and links to our growing Chinese SF bibliography! 

Remember to follow our social media and WeChat accounts linked in this newsletter.
Magazine cover art. Homage - by BEEPLE. A giant cyborg prays by a city's riverside.


Upcoming: November session

'Amorville' /《扑火》by Bella Han / 白乐寒, translated by the author.
Video call with the author and the London Chinese Science Fiction Group
Sunday 29th November - London: 14:00 = Beijing 22:00, lasting about 1hr30
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.

*   *   *

"It waited for her at the place where a bed should be. The egg-shaped machine provided her all her happiness. It shouldn’t be here: its tranquil curves, ceramic surface, and soft glow made everything else in the room feel cheap. Its brand, Phantasus, and its logo, an abstract butterfly, gleamed on the top. Below was written the model of the machine: Psyche Alpha Divine, a premium model of Psyche Alpha, with better configuration, and an ergonomic, aromatherapeutic cabin, and it was of course much more expensive. It was worth it though, since she spent so much time inside the machine every night, and so little in her sleeping bag."
*   *   *
"Neuromersive devices were not popular yet. Most owners used them to play games. Those who were willing to perform in neuromersive movies were either superstars who needed a campaign, or new faces unknown to the public. Danny was among the latter, yet once he was in the spotlight, he would no longer be hers.”

- from 'Amorville' written and translated by Bella Han.

Games and movies are a nightly comfort for Eva, who dives into their narratives to explores their scenes and landscapes. She forges deep connections with her favourite 'neuromersive' star, Danny M. Amor, and develops emotional attachments to him. However, none of these experiences extend beyond her cosy Psyche Alpha Divine. She struggles to determine the story plot to her own ordinary, real life, filled with social pressures to find a match and settle down just for the sake of conformity. Eva aspires for more meaningful attractions in her life than the common disappointments of her friends and colleagues. But how could she break from her illusion, when it cannot be translated as returned adoration in real life? How can she come to a closure and peace for reality as it is? 
Here are some themes that may guide your reading for our discussion:
  • isolation and escapism 
  • augmented realities and illusions
  • there is a slight difference between the Chinese and English versions - we'll explore with Bella her choices and processes
The novelette was originally published in ​Science Fiction World​ 《科幻世界》in June 2017, and translated by the author herself for the September 2019 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. It won the 29th Galaxy Award for Best Short SF Story. The Chinese version is available here, and English one here

Please read ahead for this month's online video call session, but if you don't get a chance to do so, you are still warmly welcome to join in. Share your thoughts and questions, engage with others, and chat with us and Bella Han about the story in this upcoming session!

Bella Han is a Chinese science fiction and fantasy writer. She earned a MA in English from Peking University and won the 2018 Galaxy Award with her first sci-fi novelette "Amorville." She writes in both Chinese and English, translates, and draws. Her website can be found here.


Previously: October session

'Color the World' /《涂色世界》 by  Congyun 'Mu Ming' Gu / 慕明 and translated by Sarah Huang
Video call with the author Mu Ming and the London Chinese Science Fiction Group
Sunday 25th October  
Thank you so much to Mu Ming for joining us from the US to call with our readers! It was a vibrant discussion, that included covering accessibility and ethics with new technologies, and the author's inspiration and own reading into art and science for the story, as well as a great chat with our readers' sharing their reflections with Mu Ming.
 *   *   *
"We don't call this color pink. It's ​Rose Ashes​ from the Thorn Birds Filter Collection. ​Rose Ashes,​ ​the perfect combination of tenderness and cruelty.​ ​ Likewise, your skirt isn't blue. With the Filter Collection, it's called ​Royal Midnight,​ ​the color of melancholy​.”

      *   *   *

"Think about it. RA technology has become entrenched in every aspect of our lives. From cinema screens to mobile apps, from commercial slogans to internet media, everywhere people are bending over themselves to match their language to what they see through the filters... It won't be long before—actually it's already started. People can't communicate, can't think, without RA. But...but what about the people who don't have it?"

- from Color the World by Congyun “Mu Ming” Gu, translated by Sarah Huang. 

How often have you disagreed with someone on whether a certain colour leans more towards green or blue? The way we individually perceive different colours is not only down to the biology of our eyes and the physics of light and distance. It is also dependent on our shared verbal and visual languages, that have been standardised through vocabularies of our sensory experiences. For example, whilst there are known discrepancies in translation across different international languages, colours are often the first words we learn of a new language. These standard dictionaries each culturally reinstate colour-seen to colour-name as unquestioned norms. 

However, experimental uses of verbal and visual languages through art and literature expand our horizons of how colours can be differently perceived and felt, but also leave some more confused. What exactly does the ​"wine-dark​" sea in Homer's 'The Odyssey' look like? In Mu Ming's 'Color the World', these creative explorations of senses and labels are seen as socially primitive, as is wearing framed glasses, and everyone around Amy - except her parents, especially her artist mum - live by the irreversible Retinal Adjustment technologies. 

'Color the World' is a short speculative story that confronts the socialised discriminations in an ableist society, through the perspective of a young Asian American girl who just wants to be 'normal'. As Amy grows up to work in the supposedly liberating RA technologies sector, she realises the inequality and dangers of a one-vision fits all aspiration. She begins to unpack her resentment towards her anti-RA mother, and at the same time, embraces the spectrum of able-bodiedness (in this story, colour blindness and tetrachromacy) that inherently defines the generosity of her and her family's unique sensory experiences, and love for a life filled with them. 

Here are some themes that may guide your reading:
  • different able-bodiedness, disability
  • individual sensory perceptions - myopia, colour blindness, tetrachromacy  
  • verbal and visual languages

'Color the World' /《涂色世界》was originally published in ​Science Fiction World​ 《科幻世界》in October 2019, and reprinted by《2019中国最佳科幻作品》姚海军编,The Best Chinese SF of 2019, edited by Yao Haijun. it has also been translated into Italian for Stori dal domani 6, the annual Future Fiction anthology edited by Francesco Verso.

Congyun (a.k.a Mu Ming) Gu is a Chinese speculative fiction writer and a programmer, currently living in New York, US. She has published short stories and novellas in Chinese since 2016. Her stories have won multiple awards since 2017, and she won the Best New Writer Award at the 2019 Chinese Xingyun (Nebula) Awards. Some of her stories have been translated into English and Italian. Her website can be found here.


We are gathering our primary titles together with collectively suggested ones on an online database here

If you mentioned a reference like a book, article, film or podcast during our session, please navigate the tabs at the bottom of the link page to add your suggestion to the relevant month's reading.

You may add to this at any time to enhance our engagement with the stories' themes and the wider literary and cultural analyses. 

Alternatively, if you cannot make our meetings, you are also welcome to add your recommendations and catch up with the reading offered. 

We hope for this to be a useful and informative documentation of our activity, as well as a resource for everyone involved! 



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

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