Unlocking the Secrets of Chinese Science Fiction || Must-Read Novels You Don’t Want to Miss
Science fiction has long been a popular genre in the West, but in recent years, Chinese science fiction has been making waves around the world.
Chinese authors are producing some of the most exciting and innovative works of science fiction and this blog is here to help you discover them.
In this blog, you’ll find recommendations for some of the best Chinese science fiction novels, complete with summaries and reasons why each book is worth reading.
DID YOU KNOW – Science fiction in Chinese is 科学幻想, kēxué huànxiǎng (abbreviated to 科幻 kēhuàn)
Whether you’re a longtime fan of science fiction or are just dipping your toe into the genre, these novels are sure to captivate and intrigue you. So, let’s get going!
Chinese Science Fiction #1 Folding Beijing
Chinese Science Fiction #2 The Three-Body Platform
Chinese Science Fiction #3 Cat Country
Chinese Science Fiction #4 Invisible Planets
Chinese Science Fiction #5 The Fat Years
Chinese Science Fiction #6 The Wandering Earth
Chinese Science Fiction In Summary
Chinese Science Fiction FAQs
Chinese Science Fiction #1 – Folding Beijing
The novella takes place in a future version of Beijing, where the city is divided into three distinct spaces: the First Space, where the wealthy and powerful live; the Second Space, where the middle class reside; and the Third Space, where the poor and marginalized are forced to live in squalor.
The story follows Lao Dao, a waste processor from the Third Space, who embarks on a dangerous mission to deliver a love letter from a wealthy businessman in the First Space to his lover in the Second Space.
Along the way, Lao Dao encounters a number of obstacles and learns about the complex and often unfair social structures that govern his world.
Folding Beijing is a thought-provoking and insightful work of science fiction that explores themes of class, inequality, and social justice.
It won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2016 and has been widely praised for its vivid world-building, engaging characters, and incisive social commentary.
We don’t want to reveal too much, but anyone who has lived in Beijing (or any other megapolis, for that matter) will quickly realize why Lao’s poverty, inability to pay the rising school fees and an empty stomach hits close to home for many people.
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Chinese Science Fiction #2 – The Three-Body Problem
The Three-Body Problem (三体; sān tǐ) is a novel written by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award and the Hugo Award.
This is the first novel from the trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past, but fans usually refer to the whole trilogy by the title of the first book.
In this famous novel which is in the beginning set during the Cultural Revolution we follow the scientist Ye Wenjie who emits signals to extra-terrestrial beings and then alerts them to Earth, because she believes humanity needs a serious wake up call.
Again, we don’t want to say too much, but a combination of the Cultural Revolution, aliens and the diminishing belief in science (which may ring a bell in the modern age…) – well, that sounds like a recipe for success!
Chinese Science Fiction #3 – Cat Country
He soon gets acquainted with the new civilization, he even learns to speak Felinese, but realizes he is actually witnessing the demise of a civilization.
Written in 1930s Lao She’s novel can be read as a dark satire of 1930s China and those turbulent times.
Chinese Science Fiction #4 – Invisible Planets
OK, so this isn’t a novel or a novelette, but rather a collection of contemporary Chinese science fiction short stories by some of the best and most famous Chinese authors, such as Liu Cixin (remember him?), Chen Qiufen, Xia Jia, Hao Jingfang (her, too!), Cheng Jingbo and Tang Fei.
In these short stories the authors tackle various issues and topics modern-day China and the world face, such as youth unemployment, artificial intelligence, poverty and inequality.
Chen Qiufan’s The Year of the Rat, for example, revolves around recent college graduates who, unable to find jobs, are forced to hunt for genetically engineered rats which are multiplying at an incredible rate.
If the students manage to kill enough of the rats, they can return to their families.
The author says he was partially inspired by the military training all high school and university students have to undergo and by the millions of freshly-graduated college students who couldn’t find jobs.
Chinese Science Fiction #5 – The Fat Years
This Chinese science fiction novel is set in the near future of 2013 (or near past, from present-day perspective) in which China has entered a golden age of prosperity, while the West has struggled with economic crises.
But a group of friends realize that there is a month “missing” from both the public records and official memory of the population…
That month is February 2011.
Most famous for this novel, Chan Koonchung has lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan, before relocating to Beijing. He is currently working on the international board of directors of Greenpeace.
Chinese Science Fiction #6 The Wandering Earth
The Wandering Earth is a science fiction novel written by (surprise, surprise!) Liu Cixin, one of the most prominent science fiction writers from China.
Originally published in 2000, it tells the story of humanity’s desperate attempt to save the planet Earth from being destroyed by the expanding sun.
In the novel, scientists develop a plan to move the Earth out of the solar system by using gigantic engines to push it towards a new home around another star.
The project, known as the Wandering Earth, is a massive undertaking that requires the cooperation of all of humanity.
The novel follows the journey of the Earth as it travels through space, encountering various obstacles and challenges along the way.
As the planet approaches its new home, the people of Earth must confront the possibility that their new world may not be as hospitable as they had hoped.
The Wandering Earth is a thrilling and thought-provoking novel that explores themes such as the nature of humanity, the limits of science and technology, and the importance of cooperation in the face of crisis.
It has been praised for its imaginative scope, compelling characters and gripping narrative.
Did you know The Wandering Earth is also a blockbuster movie? Check out our The Wandering Earth review here.
Chinese Sci-Fi – In Summary
So there you have it, 6 excellent ways to get into Chinese Sci Fi!
We hope we managed to spark your interest in the fascinating world of Chinese science fiction. Give it a try.
In summary these are the six recommendations to get you into Chinese Science Fiction.
- Folding Beijing
- The Three-Body Platform
- Cat Country
- Invisible Planets
- The Fat Years
- The Wandering Earth
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Chinese Sci-Fi || FAQs
How do you say Sci Fi in Chinese?
Sci-Fi in Chinese is 科幻 Kēhuàn.
How do you say Chinese Sci Fi in Mandarin?
Chinese Sci-Fi in Chinese is 中国科幻 Zhōngguó kēhuàn.
What are the best Chinese Sci-Fi stories to read?
There are plenty to choose from but our top 5 recommendations are:
The Three-Body Platform
The Fat Years
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