How much science fiction have you seen or read that comes from places outside of North America or Britain? Well, there’s other European sci-fi such as Karel Capek, who gave us the word “robot” in his play RUR. There’s Stanislaw Lem from Poland. There’s a glut of Australian and Kiwi sci-fi writers, and Russia seems to be covered too (Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel We inspired some of the ideas in Brave New World). But apparently, science fiction is skyrocketing (no pun intended) in China. It makes perfect sense given the influence technology has on China’s culture. What surprises me, though, is that I can’t think of a single work of science fiction by a Chinese author — in fact, it seems I haven’t read any. For someone who reads, writes about, and teaches sci-fi, this seems like a major oversight. The editors of ClarkesWorld magazine agree, which is why they’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise money to translate and publish them.
China’s Liu Cixin is one of the most popular and prolific sci-fi writers in the country, having racked up an impressive eight Galaxy Awards. Recently, translations of his works have been made available on Amazon, so the wheels are in motion, but in the meantime, Western audiences are missing out on a whole boatload of sci-fi. Thanks to Clarkesworld, that will continue to change.
The magazine has published five works by Chinese writers over the past few years, largely because of the translation efforts of writers Ken Liu and John Chu. Their current Kickstarter, which has already surpassed its $7,500 goal, has paved the way for an agreement between Clarkesworld and Weixiang (Storycom International Culture Communication Co Litd), and the magazine will be including a translated sci-fi story written by a Chinese author to every issue. Storycom, which includes both Liu Cixin and Ken Liu, will submit recommendations, and Clarkesworld will get the final say about which stories are included. Much of the money from the Kickstarter will go toward paying the contributors, and some will go toward audio versions and other fees.
Now that they’ve met their initial goal, they’re trying to meet stretch goals that will allow for the publication of anthologies, as well as a potential focus on sci-fi works from other countries. Until then, Jeff Vandermeer has compiled a list of awesome international sci-fi for Locus Magazine, so we can whet our appetites for the international awesomeness soon to come.