Chinese science fiction is influenced by SF from Japan... and the USSR

People often tend to think of science fiction authors outside of Europe and the United States primarily being influenced by English-language authors like H.G. Wells or Isaac Asimov. And those authors did have an impact — but the rich history of global science fiction also includes lots of cultural interchange among writers in different non-Western countries. Including the Soviet Union.

Chinese science fiction author Fei Dao discusses the history of SF in China, in a great interview over in the L.A. Review of Books. Including the recent huge boom in interest in science fiction among young people, and the "three generals" (Liu Cixin, Han Song and Wang Jinkang) who are the most popular and weighty creators of Chinese SF.

But perhaps the most interesting nugget is when Fei talks about the non-Western sources of inspiration for Chinese SF:

[Chinese] sci fi writers today have also read a lot of Western sci fi. They’re very familiar with it, and it’s given them a lot of inspiration. For example, Liu Cixin emphasizes his admiration of Arthur Clarke.

AA: What are the other main influences?

FD: There’s also a big influence from Japan. Historically there were a lot of Japanese [sci fi] stories translated into Chinese. Jules Verne was also first translated from Japanese into Chinese. And contemporary Japanese sci fi, for example Japan Sinks(日本沈没) by Sakyo Komatsu, is very popular in China. Anime and manga are also an influence, but only starting from the post 80s generation … because that is the generation where TV shows began to become popular.

Another big influence on Chinese sci fi is Soviet sci fi. Especially after 1949, when China had less connection to the West and more connection to the USSR, the most famous Chinese sci fi authors were most influenced by Soviet sci fi with communist themes. So there are three big influences: the West, Japan and the USSR.

The whole interview is definitely worth reading. [L.A. Review of Books]