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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 Thursday March 12 2015, @12:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12 2015, @12:15AM (#156417)

    White guy here who married an indian immigrant from ruralish Gujarat who is entirely Americanized now. I watch a lot of pirated far-east asian films (can't really stand bollywood because of the musicals, but I like a lot of the songs by themselves, way more than I like k-pop, j-pop, etc).

    From this perspective:

    What I see in asian cinema (and even moreso in asian soap operas) is tons of emphasis on Confucian style filial piety. Characters often make unexpected-to-me choices that appear to hinge on that and they talk about it often enough - not really exposition, but kind of like conflicts between social expectations and their own desires/motivations. I know movies aren't real life, more like exaggerations of real life. And I've never actually lived in any of those countries. But given the prevalence of those themes in those culture's own not-for-export cinema, I have to think that the concepts are a lot greater than in non-confucian societies like India and the west.

  • (Score: 2) by cubancigar11 on Saturday March 14 2015, @07:15PM

    by cubancigar11 (330) on Saturday March 14 2015, @07:15PM (#157827) Homepage Journal

    I suppose I can call those movies propaganda. Most eastern countries have a very failed or, might be early, state of democracies. If they start showing the real country the whole sham will be off and their might be revolution.