The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast
Ep 41 - Lao She and Cat Country with Molly Silk

Ep 41 - Lao She and Cat Country with Molly Silk

October 27, 2020

Art for Episode 41. It has Lao She, surrounded by insane cats.

It is not often that one has the opportunity to observe the extinction of an entire civilisation

In the forty first episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are venturing into Cat Country (猫城记 / Māo Chéng Jì), a science fiction oddity of the Republic of China. Helping me save the nation and stay off the damned reverie leaves is Molly Silk, a doctoral researcher of Chinese Space Policy.

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(迷叶 / Mí Yè / reverie leaves)

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Ep 40 - Liu Cixin and Death’s End with Keith Justice Hayward

Ep 40 - Liu Cixin and Death’s End with Keith Justice Hayward

October 20, 2020

Death_s_End9iv03.jpg

The ultimate fate of all intelligent beings has always been to become as grand as their thoughts.

Episode 40 is no ordinary episode! This time TrChFic is crossing over with Couch Command and its esteemed host Keith Hayward to jump right down the Chinese sci-fi wormhole of Liu Cixin's haymaker-punch ending to his Three Body Problem trilogy, Death's End (死神永生 / Sǐshén Yǒngshēng). Hell yes.

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(警告 / Jǐnggào / warning)

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Ep 36 - Gujian with Emily Jin

Ep 36 - Gujian with Emily Jin

July 30, 2020

'I think there is no brother in this world as strange as you'

In the thirty sixth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at a video game(!) series called Gujian (古剑/ Gǔ Jiàn). Helping me level up and face my shadow self is Emily Jin, a highly active Chinese science fiction translator, and better yet: a hardcore Gujian fan!

Gujian isn't a Western Tolkeinesque RPG, nor is it a JRPG Final Fantasy-style affair. It's made in China, set in China, and played (mostly) by Chinese gamers. You may not be shocked to learn that it's a Wuxia RPG, with a little Xianxia magic thrown in for good measure.

 

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(剑 / Jiàn / a straight, double-edged Chinese sword)

 

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Ep 26 - Hao Jingfang and Vagabonds with Ken Liu

Ep 26 - Hao Jingfang and Vagabonds with Ken Liu

March 7, 2020

Ep 26 art

"A person from one civilisation looks at their surroundings as distinct objects and events and considers them separately. But when a person from another civilisation looks in as an outsider, they prefer to view everything through the lens of political power and try to explain everything based on that perspective."

In the twenty sixth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Hao Jingfang's Vagabonds (流浪玛厄斯 / Liúlàng Mǎèsī)

It would be tempting to say that Vagabonds is a Chinese science fiction rewrite of Ursula K le Guin’s The Dispossessed. My guest Ken Liu would be the first to stress that while there’s some truth to this, readers would be much better off treating the book as thing unto itself. He’s right- this is a book with no shortage of ideas or interpretations. Storywise, here’s what you need to know: it’s a red socialist planet ‘versus’ a green and blue corpocracy. Sit down, get comfy, and pick a side. Or don’t. Not picking a side may be the point.

Publishers: EN - Simon & Schuster - Head of Zeus  // CN - New Star Press

Hao Jingfang on Paper Republic

Ken Liu on Paper Republic 

 

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Ep 23 - Baoshu and What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear

Ep 23 - Baoshu and What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear

January 12, 2020

Ep 23 art

"Later, I kept on hoping China would host the Olympics again, but it never happened. After I became a father, I told my son about that night, and he refused to believe China had once been so prosperous."

this is episode 7 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the twenty third episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Baoshu's What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear (大时代 / dà shídài), available to read in the Broken Stars anthology, edited and translated by Ken Liu.

Baoshu reverses time, sending his protagonist through a life that begins with the Beijing Olympics and ends before the communist revolution. I go it alone on this episode, and maybe it’s for the best because this story made me cry. It’s beautiful.

 

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Ep 22 - A Summer Beyond Your Reach with Xia Jia

Ep 22 - A Summer Beyond Your Reach with Xia Jia

December 18, 2019

Ep 22 art

'The summer isn’t over yet. There are so many fun things to do.'

this is episode 6 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the twenty second episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Xia Jia's A Summer Beyond Your Reach (你无法抵达的夏天/nǐ wúfǎ dǐdá de xiàtiān)

Xia Jia herself joins me via Skype from California to talk about her stories. French culture comes up three times in this episode. I really didn’t see that coming. Xia Jia’s stories do fuse deep thought with deep feeling, which I suppose does sound a bit French. Anyway! It’s a very fun episode, so have a listen.

Translators: Emily Jin, Carmen Yiling Yan, Ken Liu

Publisher: Clarkesworld

 

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Ep 21 - Han Song and the Fundamental Nature of the Universe with Nathaniel Isaacson

Ep 21 - Han Song and the Fundamental Nature of the Universe with Nathaniel Isaacson

December 11, 2019

Ep 21 art

'Everything is going to descend into chaos and disorder. Entropy will accelerate rapidly...'

this is episode 5 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the twenty first episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Han Song's The Fundamental Nature of the Universe (宇宙的本性/yǔzhòu de běnxìng)

A tale of artificial intelligence and ennui. Or should it be angst? Or simply just yanjuan? Musing darkly with me on this episode is its translator Nathaniel Isaacson, author of Celestial Empire: The Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction. He translated this story, so he ought to know a thing or two about it!

FULL TEXT - academic access required 

Han Song on Paper Republic

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Ep 20 - Liu Cixin and Devourer with Adam McMurchie

Ep 20 - Liu Cixin and Devourer with Adam McMurchie

December 2, 2019

Ep 20 art

'We still have a very long time to get along and very many things to talk about, but let us not speak of morals. In the universe, such considerations are meaningless.'

this is episode 4 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the twentieth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Liu Cixin's Devourer (吞食者/tūnshí zhě)

This is a grim tale for survival in a predatory galaxy, very much in the mold of The Three Body Problem. Helping me out on this episode is Chinese SF superfan and fellow Dundonian Adam McMurchie. I’m sure he’ll be back on again!

The story was translated by Holger Nahm, and published in The Wandering Earth by Head of Zeus & TOR

 

// Discussed this Episode //

Jiayang Fan on Liu Cixin

The Three Body Problem

 

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Ep 19 - Fei Dao and The Storytelling Robot with Matt Michaelson

Ep 19 - Fei Dao and The Storytelling Robot with Matt Michaelson

November 26, 2019

Ep 19 art

'The robot’s ability to learn was unparalleled, and with the help of its creators it analysed its databank of stories to create a set of scientific laws for storytelling – a model that would later become world-famous. But the mathematical nature of this model was so overwhelmingly complex that only the robot could make head or tail of it.'

this is episode 3 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the nineteenth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Fei Dao's The Storytelling Robot (讲故事的机器人/jiǎng gùshì de jīqìrén), translated by Alec Ash.

 

This is a thoughtful tale told by a writer with a melacholic, existential tendency. My favourite! Helping me out here is Matt of the Spectology Podcast. A very chill fellow who really knows a lot about Chinese SF.

This story may also be read online in the original Chinese

 

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Ep 18 - Waste Tide with Chen Qiufan

Ep 18 - Waste Tide with Chen Qiufan

November 15, 2019

Art for Ep 19

'Everything was shrouded in a leaden miasma, an amalgamation of the white mist generated by the boiling aqua regia in the acid baths and the black smoke from the unceasing burning of PVC, insulation, and circuit boards in the fields and on the shore of the river. The two contrasting colors were mixed by the sea breeze until they could no longer be distinguished, seeping into the pores of every living being.'

this is episode 2 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

Chaos reigns in the hyperactive, hyperreal, and highly populated Silicon Isle- a spot just off the coast of Guangdong where downtrodden ‘waste people’ do pitiless, dangerous work for local and global elites. All it takes is a spark, and the whole thing explodes…

In the eighteenth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Chen Qiufan's Waste Tide (荒潮/huāng cháo). The translator is Ken Liu and the publishers are Head of Zeus and TOR. Our guest is the author himself!

 

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