Could you direct me to the science fiction section?

From Han Song’s blog:

Where’s the SF?

I bring up this question because yesterday, when I went to the Beijing Book Building to buy a science fiction book for a guest who was visiting from far away, I found a sign reading “Chinese Fantasy” in an area that had once sold domestic SF; the whole bookshelf was like this, and it was identical to what I had seen at the Wangfujing Bookstore – they’d all been changed. So in Xinhua Bookstores today, there are only “Chinese Fantasy” and “Western Science Fiction” sections that seem to mock each other. This in and of itself makes an excellent SF topic; I couldn’t help but recall that back when Liu Cixin described the SF-Fantasy Wars, he had complete confidence in SF being victorious.

At this point, I searched carefully through the “Chinese Fantasy” section of the bookstore, and finally came up with three or five SF books — Science Fiction World‘s Nebula IV and V, an annual SF anthology edited by Wu Yan, and two volumes of a four-volume collection of Pan Jiazheng’s works — nothing else. So I asked the salesgirl, “Where’s the domestic science fiction?”

She said, “Here, it’s basically all fantasy. There’s no pure science fiction. Tell me the title you want.”

I said, “Ball Lightning?”

She said, “Nope. That’s an old one.”

I asked, “Why are there so few domestic SF books?”

She said, “They don’t publish them, so we don’t have them.” I didn’t know whether she was joking or telling the truth.

The International SF-Fantasy Conference hosted by Yao Haijun et al. will open in Chengdu at the end of the month. From what I hear, it might be a Zunyi Conference. Fortunately at this point I found Lala’s chilling “Projection of the Multiverse” and I let out a bitter sigh.

I’ve wondered about the strange lack of SF at the major bookstores in downtown Beijing; the bookstores in Zhongguancun seem to have a better selection. Why this is I don’t know — is it their proximity to the university district, or does SF sell better to the tech crowds in so-called “Beijing’s Silicon Valley”? Or it could just be a random coincidence; shelving systems in most Chinese bookstores make it fairly difficult to find a title without knowing the publisher.

Might as well just order online, as people have suggested in the comments to Han’s post.

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One Response to “Could you direct me to the science fiction section?”

  1. Mark Says:

    The usurping of science fiction by fantasy is not unique to China, and it a pity all round.
    Great blog. Look forward to more posts.

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