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posted by n1 on Wednesday March 11 2015, @01:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the engineer-by-day,-writer-by-night dept.

Joshua Rothman has a very interesting article in The New Yorker about Liu Cixin, China’s most popular science-fiction writer, author of thirteen books who until very recently had retained his day job as a computer engineer with a State-run power plant in a remote part of Shanxi province. It helped him to stay grounded and enabled him to "gaze at the unblemished sky" as many of his co-workers do.

In China, Cixin is about as famous as William Gibson in the United States and Cixin is often compared to Arthur C. Clarke, whom he cites as an influence. Rothman writes that American science fiction draws heavily on American culture, of course—the war for independence, the Wild West, film noir, sixties psychedelia—and so humanity’s imagined future often looks a lot like America’s past. For an American reader, one of the pleasures of reading Liu is that his stories draw on entirely different resources.

For example, in “The Wages of Humanity,” visitors from space demand the redistribution of Earth’s wealth, and explain that runaway capitalism almost destroyed their civilization. In “Taking Care of Gods,” the hyper-advanced aliens who, billions of years ago, engineered life on Earth descend from their spaceships; they turn out to be little old men with canes and long, white beards. “We hope that you will feel a sense of filial duty towards your creators and take us in,” they say. "I doubt that any Western sci-fi writer has so thoroughly explored the theme of filial piety," writes Rothman. In another story, “The Devourer,” a character asks, “What is civilization? Civilization is devouring, ceaselessly eating, endlessly expanding.” But you can’t expand forever; perhaps it would be better, another character suggests, to establish a “self-sufficient, introspective civilization.” "At the core of Liu’s sensibility," concludes Rothamn, "is a philosophical interest in the problem of limits. How should we react to the inherent limitations of life? Should we push against them or acquiesce?"

 
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  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:40AM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:40AM (#155888) Homepage

    I read plenty of Liu Citrix' books, and they're pretty damn good compared to Western Literature. Lotta cryptic high-context stuff in there, where words mean different things depending on the tone of voice you hear the syllables inside your head as you read them.

    For example, in a good mood, you pick up one of his books and read the passage as, "Robot-man teleported to the moon," but the next day you can read the very same passage as, "Robot-man sodomized your momma with a chainsaw."

    And there's a lot of things about becoming the wind to vanquish your enemy, and harnessing the other elements for your chi or some shit. And Kung-Pow chicken. And Wu-shu pork.

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  • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:42AM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:42AM (#155891) Homepage

    'scuse me, Moo shu pork.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:44AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:44AM (#155892)

    Can you make me some won ton soup?

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:50AM

      by c0lo (156) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:50AM (#155895) Journal
      From TFM [xkcd.com], the correct syntax is
      > sudo "make me some won ton soup"
      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:52AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @02:52AM (#155896)

        Ethanol-fueled is a man, not an Ubuntu Linux installation. I don't command him to do things. I ask him. Maybe he will make me won ton soup. Maybe he won't. Regardless, I will treat him like the man that he is. I will not treat him like he is a computer.

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:22AM

          by c0lo (156) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:22AM (#155904) Journal

          Maybe he will make me won ton soup. Maybe he won't. Regardless, I will treat him like the man that he is.

          As you wish, but you are doing him a disservice.

          Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline.
          This is a certain road to victory.

          Sun Tzu, The art of war, "The Army on the March" - para 43 [suntzusaid.com])

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 11 2015, @08:10AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @08:10AM (#155946) Journal

          Ethanol-fueled is a man, not an Ubuntu Linux installation.

          I would need to see some rather strong evidence of this claim.

          • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by VLM on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:49PM

            by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:49PM (#156028)

            Does he, or does he not, force you to soil yourself by running GNOME DESKTOP ENVIRONMENT? I think not. So much for that logical clause.

            Note that merely ruling out being an installation of Ubuntu does not necessarily prove what he is. He could be a sentient AI for example. Being fueled by ethanol I'm thinking he's the embedded entertainment system in some hippies eco bio-fueled car. That might, or might not, explain a lot.

          • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:29PM

            by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:29PM (#156207) Journal

            Yeah, his systemd installation is a little bit damning.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:12AM

    by c0lo (156) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:12AM (#155898) Journal

    plenty of Liu Citrix' books

    With a job like his, I just wonder how does Wei Liu Citrix [xenproject.org] have time to write books as well?

    Lotta cryptic high-context stuff in there

    Necessarily so, otherwise it wouldn't pass the censorship.

    a lot of things about becoming the wind to vanquish your enemy

    You got the tonality wrong on this one, better try reading it again this evening (hint: sobriety doesn't help when reading Liu Citrix' spiritual writings; the mind really need cleaning of any parasitical thoughts, what better way to do it other than with high quality spirits).

    Harnessing shit for your chi doesn't required the identification with your inner wind.
    On the contrary, it requires expelling it, in long bursts forming the all powerful whaaaa [youtube.com] syllable.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:40PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:40PM (#156025)

    I sympathize with the unpredictability day to day, the same thing happened to me when I installed systemd, chainsaw and everything.

    Brings to mind the "Manchurian Candidate" story from some time ago. Westerners were not the first to invent EEE or FUD.

    becoming the wind to vanquish your enemy, and harnessing the other elements for your chi or some shit

    I'm pretty sure I read that exact line as one of the arguments in the Debian init system debate. You should really quote your sources when cutting and pasting.

  • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:27PM

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @06:27PM (#156205) Journal

    And Wu-shu pork.
     
    Is that the sequel to Kung-Fu Panda?