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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) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @03:57AM (#155912)

    It's not possible to be racist against Americans. American is a nationality, not a race.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @08:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @08:40AM (#155954)

    "Only thing worse than dragons; Americans!" Reign of Fire, and as true now as it will be in the post dragon-apocalypse future.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2015, @12:37PM (#156023)

    > It's not possible to be racist against Americans. American is a nationality, not a race.

    race: noun [oxforddictionaries.com]
    1.1: A group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.;
    'We are trying to find out why the British as a race find it amazingly funny to take their clothes off.'

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by CRCulver on Wednesday March 11 2015, @01:04PM

    by CRCulver (4390) on Wednesday March 11 2015, @01:04PM (#156031) Homepage
    Prejudice against a nationality can be fairly labelled racism. It has been many, many decades now that the term "racism" has applied to more than simply innate genetic qualities. (See the entry for "racism" in the OED, for example.) NGOs whose focus is "fighting racism" typically include prejudice against an ethnicity, religious identity, and xenophobia within their mandate.