Representations of the Invisible. The Unseen Bodies in the Three‐Body Problem, or the Hidden Dimensions of Chinese Science Fiction
Chinese science fiction literature had two short booms in the twentieth century, in the early twenty‐ first century it entered a golden age. The new wave of Chinese science fiction is a representation of the “invisible” reality of China. The writers Han Song and Liu Cixin are striking examples for this. Han’s uncanny narrative turns ordinary daily experience into surreal adventure. He often observes that “China’s reality is more science fictional than science fiction,” implying that what he writes is not merely the metaphorical, figurative, or poetic, but instead through his writings, the textual fabrica‐ tion of China’s “reality” as scientific speculations illuminates the truth of the otherwise invisible reali‐ ty, and thus decides the subversive nature of the genre that defies the “fear of seeing [the truth].” Liu Cixin also seeks to transform the invisible and infinite into a plausible physical reality in a different way. The sublime, wondrous sensation lifts science fiction from determinism or national allegory—or whatever is rooted in certainty—into a transcendental imaginary realm that opens up to possibilities and perceptions beyond ordinary reality. The sublime becomes visible and functions as the very magnetic force of science fiction, as testified by the most expected Chinese film of 2016: THE THREE‐ BODY PROBLEM. Contrary to the common belief that science fiction is the opposite of realism, the lan‐ guage of Chinese new wave science fiction operates as a heightened representation of the reality, and presents the metaphorical, the figurative, and the poetic as the literal.
Mingwei Song is Associate Professor of Chinese at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. (since 2007); currently he is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His research interests include modern Chinese literature from the late Qing to the early 21st century, Chinese cinema, science fiction, and the youth culture. Selected publications: Young China: National Rejuvenation and the Bildungsroman, 1900‐1959 (2015), in Chinese: Criticism and Imagination (Shanghai, 2013); The Sorrows of a Floating World: a Biography of Eileen Chang (Taipei, 1996). In addition to his academic publications, he has also published short stories, novellas, essays, and poems in Chinese‐language literary magazines in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China.
Vortrag, Samstag, 23.1., 11.45 (Sektion 4: Gesellschaft der Zukunft)