The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast
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 17 - Hao Jingfang and Folding Beijing with Lyu Guangzhao

Ep 17 - Hao Jingfang and Folding Beijing with Lyu Guangzhao

November 9, 2019

Ep 17 art

'The folding city was divided into three spaces. One side of the earth was First Space, population five million. Their allotted time lasted from six o’clock in the morning to six o’clock the next morning. Then the space went to sleep, and the earth flipped.'

this is episode 1 of 7 in our Chinese Science Fiction Season

In the seventeenth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing (北京折叠/běi jīng zhé dié)

 

This is a Hugo Award-winning ‘novelette’ translated by Ken Liu that imagines a city that has ‘economised’ by splitting social classes more fundamentally than ever before. It was first published by Uncanny Magazine. Helping me out in this episode is the charming and insightful Lyu Guangzhao of the London Chinese Scifi Reading Group. He’s a legend.

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// Discussed this Episode //

Hao Jingfang's essay - I Want to Write A History of Inequality

Paul Mason on automation & future economics

Linus 林路's Chinese SF cinema IG is @sinoscifi

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Ep 9 - Eileen Chang and Lust, Caution with Claire Hao

Ep 9 - Eileen Chang and Lust, Caution with Claire Hao

May 26, 2019

Ep 9

"Alive, her body belonged to him; dead, she was his ghost"

In the eighth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at Lust, Caution (色,戒 / Sè, Jiè) by a certain someone called Eileen Chang. Heard of her?

It’s a tale of forbidden love and political intrigue set at a precarious time and indeed a precarious place in Chinese history: the Japanese-occupied foreign concessions of WW2-era Shanghai.

The translation I read is from the Penguin Pocket Classics Edition. Julia Lovell was the translator. Co-hosting with me on this episode is the amazing Claire Hao.

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// Discussed this Episode //

Except of the story available on the Pocket Penguins website

Julia Lovell/Han Shaogong article

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Ep 1 - Lu Xun and the Diary of a Madman

Ep 1 - Lu Xun and the Diary of a Madman

February 27, 2019

Ep 1 art

Wanting to eat men, at the same time afraid of being eaten themselves, they all look at each other with the deepest suspicion...

In the very first episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast, we are looking at The Diary of a Madman (狂人日记/Kuángrén Rìjì) It's the PRC Beijing Foreign Languages Press translation.

This is a foundational text for modern Chinese literature, and sure enough this podcast keeps on referring back here, to Episode 1. In this grim and surreal tale, a man describes his growing suspicion that his friends, his family, and his entire village has turned cannibal.

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READ THE FULL TEXT HERE

Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism by Frederic Jameson

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Episode 1 transcript

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