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The Three-Body Problem and Science-fiction in Chinese

With the Chinese launching recently 天眼, the World’s biggest telescope, alien life & science-fiction have been on our minds a lot. So today, we wanted to talk about science-fiction in China and in Chinese. More specifically, we wanted to introduce to you one of China’s biggest and most well-known Science-fiction writers: Cixin Liu. Read on to learn more about the Science-fiction genre in China, how to say Science-fiction in Chinese and to discover Cixin Liu’s must-read novel.

science-fiction in Chinese and Cixin Lui

Cixin Liu, China’s Most Well-Known Sci-fi writer

These last few months, I fell in love with 刘慈欣, Cixin Liu, a Chinese writer specialized in Science-Fiction.

Science Fiction is not an old genre in China and Chinese science-fiction hasn’t been explored much yet by the Western world despite gaining in popularity these past few years. The most well-known, and best-selling Sci-fi writer in China is 刘慈欣, Cixin Liu. He’s a prolific writer, having written 13 books. His latest trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, is the first of his works to have been translated in English.

To learn more about Cixiu Liu, we recommend this excellent article on him by the New Yorker. 

The Three-body Problem 

If you like Sci-Fi, I really recommend you read these three books. Cixin Liu’s trilogy is excellent, and to show you how good, let’s just say: he was the first Chinese, actually Asian, ever to win the International Hugo award for Sci-fi, and was on Barack Obama’s winter reading list a couple years back.

The first book in the Trilogy is 三本, the Three-body Problem. It takes you from the Cultural Revolution to modern technology like Virtual Reality to contact with the Trisolaran, a more advanced alien species in the Galaxy. Throw in gravitational physics and you’ve got yourself a book that is thrilling and intense from beginning to end.

The English translation of the third and last installment of Cixin Liu’s trilogy, called “Death’s End”, just came out a few days ago. If you read the two previous books, you’ll be as excited as I am to know that!

And if you’re a Sci-fi fan who hasn’t discovered Cixin Liu yet, we highly recommend you give Cixin Liu’s trilogy a try. It’s fascinating and introduces to you a type of Science-Fiction that is very different from American Sci-fi.

Start with Part 1: The Three-Body Problem, before moving on to Part 2: The Dark Forest. To check out the third volume, head here: Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past).

Discover more Chinese science-fiction authors and works here and here.

How to Say Science-Fiction in Chinese

You know I won’t let you go without a little Chinese to learn. The word for today, naturally, is Science fiction in Chinese. This word actually has two forms in Mandarin: 科幻 and 科学幻想

The first form is the shortened version, like Sci-Fi in English:

科幻

kē huàn

Sci-Fi

(it literally means scientific fantasy)

科幻 is actually an abbreviation for Science Fiction:

科学幻想

(trad : 科學幻想)

kē xué huàn xiǎng

science fiction

Have you read the Three Body Problem? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

Have a good day!

Jean-Rémi, a meowsome member of

The Nincha Team

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