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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 11:41 am:   

This is the "SF in Asia" thread (originally begun in the "SF in Very Small Countries" discussion).

To catch up on what's been said, I'll quote previous postings from the other thread:
-------------------
By Thomas R on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:21 pm:

Oh for very large nations there is China which was mentioned. Chinese SF I've read, from the mainland, has had some problems with political interference. Meaning some of it reads like the party's mouthpiece. However I think in the 1990s that situation improved to a great extent. As for Taiwan the end of one party Kuomintang rule, with martial law, I've heard improved things there a great deal. They have a basically free press now I think.

The second biggest in population is India. I think their tech industry is growing a good deal and English is a very common second language. (Or even First in a few cases) The English language issue maybe shouldn't matter, but it does make things easier. I could see Indian authors in Year's Best volumes being normal by the end of the decade or start of the next.

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By A.R. Yngve on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 03:15 am:

During the Soviet Union, SF writers living under Communist censorship could sneak in criticism of the system into their stories -- Stanislaw Lem is a well-known example. Naturally, I expect at least *some* Chinese SF writers to do the same. Which should be interesting!

India is definitely going to have a strong growth in SF reading -- among tech-sector people, that is. I've tried to make inroads into India, and published a short story in the Indian SF webzine ADBHUT ("Sins Of Our Fathers", at http://www.adbhut.com/en/feb04/10.html ).

The great advantage India has over China is that most Indians have English as a second language, so translation isn't a big issue.

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

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By Rob Darnell on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 04:20 am:

A.R., your story grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let me go. I think it ended too quickly, though. I'm left with a feeling that more story could have been there before the ending. However, I'm quite impressed. The theme was very interesting. Just wanted to let you know.

-----------------------------------
By A.R. Yngve on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 06:10 am:

Thanks, Rob!

I agree that the ending came abruptly, and I felt a bit unsatisfied with it. For some reason I tend to get very impatient when I write short stories... especially when I know they'll end up on the Internet! The novels get longer, though.

If you want to see my longer stories, check out "Sniper, Viper" on my website ( http://yngve.bravehost.com/sniperviper.html ) and the very long, satirical "Grisham's World" in THE 12 GAUGE REVIEW ( http://www.12gauge.com/issue6/grisham.html )

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

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By Thomas R on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 11:20 am:

Well I read Science Fiction from China edited by Pat Murphy and Wu Dingbo. It was from the eighties so things were still a bit on the repressive side. A few though did sneak in criticism. Mirror Image of the Earth, by the recently deceased Zheng Wenguang, had aliens showing the horror of the Cultural Revolution then they decide leaving their world was better than dealing with humans. Conjugal Love in the Arms of Morpheus, or more accurately it's sequel, was surprisingly overt about criticizing the treatment of women in China. Indeed it was so much more overt it really stood out. (Yet by Western standards it's "feminism" was rather unremarkable and read like something by women SFers in the 1950s. However the things I've read lately about the lives of Chinese women makes it seem even more remarkable to me now) Unfortunately I think it was also so much more overt it got its author in a bit of hot water, but nothing like imprisonment or anything.

There was also more subtle criticisms of the status quo, but many of these were too subtle for me to recall.

One odd thing is Chinese SF writers could be condemned for teaching junk science. For a long time they linked linked SF to science popularization, especially for kids, not with literature. So an SF story could get in as much trouble for theories of biology the Party disliked, or in fairness theories that were truly wrong, as anything political.
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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 11:45 am:   

Could someone please find an English-speaking, genuinely Chinese SF fan/writer, who could tell us more about the state of science fiction in China today?

It might be us in the West who are missing out on some really good stuff being written or made in China... think about it! :-)

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 12:25 pm:   

Hold on. There was someone at the Asimov's board who was born in China and worked there as a translator. I'll try to get her if I can. Maureen F. McHugh is not Chinese, but lived there a few years and is at Nightshades some.

As for Asian SF in general the big power at present is still probably Japan. They are the largest First World, or MDC, democracy in Asia I think. In least in films they are still likely dominant. They have Hiyao Miyazaki et al in animei. I saw some new project called Appleseed mentioned as well.

In books they have, or had, authors like: Sakyo Komatsu, Kobo Abe, Shinichi Hoshi, & Murakami. I think some Japanese writers were even published in F&SF.

I know of some SF writers in or from Southeast Asia. S. P. Somtow, Somtow Sucharitkul, is originally from Thailand. A few of his stories have a very Thai atmosphere, like Fiddling for the Water Buffaloes.
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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 01:25 pm:   

OK, but you know what happens the moment you mention Japanese SF... the whole discussion gets to be about animation and comics. Let's focus on writing, please please... no Giant Robots! ;-)

By the way, can Internet users in China access this message board directly, or is there a barrier...?

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 01:38 pm:   

Okay, no animation or comics when I mean Japan. Forget I mentioned that aspect. From now on I mean the written works. Komatsu's influence on the film 2010, stuff like that:-) (In his book "Sayanora Jupiter" Jupiter turns into a second Sun)
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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 02:21 pm:   

I've read a Swedish translation of Komatsu's "Japan Slides Into the Ocean" disaster novel, NIPPON CHIMBOTSU. It was made into a movie, it says in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Questions I would like to ask Asian SF fans:
1. How well does written SF sell in your country? (The fact that "Sf World", a Chinese mag, has a reported circulation of 400,000 should give a clue about the numbers involved.)

2.What type of SF is the most popular in your country? (Preferably the written kind.)

3.Who's your the most popular/your favorite SF writer where you live?

4.What changes do you see in the SF field where you live? (New writers and themes emerging, old styles fading?)

5.What do you think of the SF from Europe and America that reaches your country?

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Alan T. Sippola
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 02:40 pm:   


A.R. --

The following link may provide some answers for you on the somewhat current situation of science fiction in China.

I'll see what else I can locate on the Internet for you.

I'll bill you the fee for my service at a time that is most convenient for you. ;-)


"Brave New World of Chinese Science Fiction" http://test.china.org.cn/english/culture/40079.htm


~ Alan ~
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Alan T. Sippola
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 03:15 pm:   


A.R. --

Here is something which may prove to be even more invaluable to you on the Chinese science fiction and fantasy culture.

"Science Fiction and Fantasy - Nutrients of the Creative Mind" http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/puo/bulletin/issue/200002/efiction.htm


~ Alan
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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 12:19 am:   

Many thanks, Alan!

(I'll pay the bill when my next unemployment check arrives. ;-))

Here's a tidbit from the articles you dug up:
"The monthly circulation of Science Fiction World, one of China's most popular magazines, has exceeded 500,000, dwarfing all international counterparts."
:-O

"We hit the mother lode!"

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:11 am:   

Here's a great up-to-date news blog about Chinese SF -- with all the info we could ask for:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/zhwj/

Apparently, the "SF World" mag is pushing Western SF very hard to their readership, publishing translated serials of Alfred Bester's THE STARS MY DESTINATION, Douglas Adams' HITCHHIKER books, and the ENDER'S GAME books.

Somebody give that editor a medal... :-)

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Alan T. Sippola
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:00 pm:   


A.R. --

No problem, amigo!
Just glad to be of assistance. ;-)


~ Alan ~
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Vandana Singh
Posted on Friday, April 30, 2004 - 06:09 am:   

Hi! I am an (asian) Indian SF writer currently living in the US. The first SF book I ever read while growing up in India was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 --- when I was 11 --- and it blew my mind. Other popular books were those by Asimov, Clarke, etc. Later I discovered Ursula K. Le Guin, which was another mind-opening experience. There are two kinds of SF in India --- SF from the West, read by bilingual urbanites like me, who are comfortable with English, and a lively tradition of SF in indigenous languages like Marathi and Bengali. As my mother tongue is Hindi, I can read these only in translation, and there are very few translations. One day I'd like to edit a volume of SF from India from these various traditions.

There are also other SF writers from India writing in English: Amitav Ghosh, a mainstream writer who wrote one SF novel, The Calcutta Chromosome (it won the Arthur C. Clarke award, I believe); Ashok Banker, whose work runs closer to fantasy, S. Basu, who has just come out with an SF novel whose name I forget... and me, starting out with four published short stories and a children's novel. Expect to see a lot of SF coming out from India or diasporic Indians soon.

And don't expect it to be the same as SF here! Themes and styles are likely to be quite different, which should add to the richness of the field as a whole.

You may be interested in knowing that there is a conference on SF from the Commonwealth Countries coming up in Liverpool, UK, this August.
http://homepages.enterprise.net/ambutler/acosf/

One of the guests is Caribbean-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson, who, along with Uppinder Mehan, is editor of the first ever anthology of post-colonial fiction from "third-world" authors: "So Long Been Dreaming." The link is at:
http://www.arsenalpulp.com/select_book.php?book=176 and I have a story in it!

THanks for all the info on Chinese SF --- I found it very interesting.

Cheers,

Vandana


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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Friday, April 30, 2004 - 07:52 am:   

Thanks for the info on SF in India! I look forward to seeing more Indian SF translated to English in the near future. :-)

By the way, there is an Indian web-zine called ADBHUT, where aspiring SF writers publish short fiction -- some of which is translated from other Indian languages:
http://www.adbhut.com/

I firmly believe we'll soon see a big wave of new SF writers from India and China... bringing some much-needed vitality to the genre.

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

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Lavie
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 09:06 am:   

If you're still interested in this topic, my article on Chinese SF (from Foundation #89) is now available in slightly-shortened form at http://www.concatenation.org/articles/sf~china.html

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A.R. Yngve
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 11:19 am:   

Very good article - thanks!

Evidence suggests that even though the Chinese lag behind, they are catching up fast.

It will be interesting to watch. :-)

-A.R. Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 01:06 pm:   

Fascinating. I'd love to read this newer generation of Chinese SF to see the changes. (The stuff I read was pre-1990s and kind of rah-rah long live the Party stuff)
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Vandana Singh
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 07:03 pm:   

The article by Lavie Tidhar was most interesting. I think that third world SF in general has both components: imitative stuff that blindly lauds scientific progress as defined in the West, whether in the name of the Party or out of a desire to "modernize" the country, a national-level keeping-up-with-the-joneses attitude --- AND some stuff that is unique to that culture, far more quirky, edgy and critical of the status quo. The latter is what interests me the most. That kind of third-world SF is the only way we third-worlders have to reflect upon and critique the enormous changes to which our societies are currently subject, and to examine the forces, external and internal, that are pushing these changes. The quote by Liu Xingshi at the close of Lavie Tidhar's article is, for me, particularly resonant.

You may also want to read an article in the same magazine, Foundation, Vol. 74 (not available on the internet as far as I know) by Uppinder Mehan, called "The Domestication of Technology in Indian Science Fiction Short Stories." A link to the journal contents page is at http://www.sf-foundation.org/publications/foundation/backissues/fou74.html. Uppinder Mehan is a professor of literature at Emerson College in Boston.

Best,

Vandana
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Ahmed A. Khan
Posted on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 09:41 am:   

SF from India!

An interesting topic. The pickings here are sparse and rich at the same time. In the days of yore, there were at least two prestigious Indian magazines that published science fiction and/or fantasy in English: Illustrated Weekly and Science Today (which later changed its name to 2001 before ceasing publication). I had two of my very early SF stories published in Science Today.

In the books department, other than the works mentioned earlier by Vandana, some of the books by Satyajit Ray are definitely SF.

And then there is SF in languages other than English. I will speak of Urdu here. Writers like Krishan Chander and Siraj Anwar have written quite a few short stories and novels that are SF.

Like Vandana, I too wish I could edit an anthology of SF from India.

Ahmed
http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/fictiononline
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A.R.Yngve
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 05:19 am:   

An update on this topic:

I just received -- by snail-mail -- the Chinese SF magazine KE HUAN, with my short story "See" in it.

Scanned images of the magazine cover, and two inside pages, can be found here:
http://yngve.bravehost.com/yngve_in_china.html

-A.R.Yngve
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Sethness
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 06:26 am:   

I live in Japan.

Since few other posters have addressed questions about SF in Japan, I'll take a stab at it, borrowing a list of questions from an earlier post.


1. How well does written SF sell in your country?

In Japan, extremely well... but only if we include the genre of "manga", which are graphic novels (comic books) aimed at an audience of all ages. Topics are not limited to the laugh-based or superhero-based fiction of American comic books.

2.What type of SF is the most popular in your country? (Preferably the written kind.)

Again, that would be "Manga", or "comic book novels". The artwork and story lines are extremely high quality. One can ordinarily see shelves and shelves of it in barber shops, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc.

3.Who's [...] the most popular/your favorite SF writer where you live?

I'll pass on that question. While some graphic novels go into serialization that can last 15 years and make the author a household name, I'm just not familiar enough with Japanese authors to make a reliable "top ten" list.

I will note, however, that I haven't seen any Japanese manga based on Western authors' storylines.

4.What changes do you see in the SF field where you live? (New writers and themes emerging, old styles fading?)

Embracing the Western culture is big. Bilingual graphic novels, novels, and even "serif books" (line-by-line bilingual translations of popular movies) are popular.

Themes are not altering, much, though. The themes most prevalent are--and have always been-- rather stable:
1) daytime soap-opera type
2) fantasy superhero, like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z
3) Samurai times (straight fantasy with Arthurian -or- old Japanese Samurai settings
4) juvenile fiction with tie-in products, like Dragonball Z and Pokemon. Stories like "Bronte's Egg" (by Robert Reed ?) would sell like hotcakes, here, with companies falling all over themselves to make TV spin-offs, video games, plush toys and rubber dolls shaped like cute 'saurs.
5) ultra-violent, pedophile, rape-based, mysogenistic undertones. Yes, really. I realize that this sort of breaks with the image of Japan as a very orderly, polite society, but Japan's cartoons genuinely show the dark, seething repressed urges of these ordinarily polite folks. Even the fiction aimed at elementary school kids will frequently have graphic dismemberment, no-tell motels, pedophilia, graphic groping... stuff that horrifies Americans, and you wouldn't want your kid reading.

One thing I do *not* see much is short-story compilations of various authors, in formats like F&SF magazine. Japanese society is largely based on fear of suggesting radical change, but once a change has been proven successful, embracing the change quickly. Hence, a new author is't likely to find success, but an established one has carte blanche to do whatever he likes.

5.What do you think of the SF from Europe and America that reaches your country?

Generally, it doesn't.

Blockbuster Hollywood **films** make it here, and translated Western books are extremely well received, but that translation hurdle (and the artwork required, if it goes into Manga format) is too formidable for most first-time Western authors to get published in Japan. No Japanese publisher would make the high investment in a relatively risky new Western author.

If, on the other hand, an English-speaking author took the trouble to translate a work himself, making it a bilingual piece that teaches English as one reads, that would excite Japanese publishers.
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Fabio Müller
Posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 - 08:04 am:   

The french-speaking people among you might be interested in reading my MA thesis on Chinese SF of the 1990s. A download link as well as an abstract in english can be found here:

http://fabiomuller.tripod.com/Chinese%20SF.htm

Fabio
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Fabio Müller
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 12:32 pm:   

The link above doesn't work anymore. Please use this one instead:

http://four.fsphost.com/Fabio/academica.htm

Cheers,
Fabio
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Fabio Müller
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 10:56 am:   

new working link:

http://shup.com/Shup/17050/MEMOIRE-F.-MULLER.pdf

(sorry for triple posting, but it's impossible to edit old posts...)

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