Nation set to become the brightest sci-fi star

By Miriam Zhang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-10 10:28
Baoshu's book The Redemption of Time has been published overseas. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Death's End, the third volume, was published in 2010. After reading it, Baoshu found that there were many gaps in the account of Yun Tianming, one of the main protagonists, who disappears and then reappears.

After speculating about what had happened to Yun, Baoshu picked up the idea and wrote The Redemption of Time, which focuses on the evolution of Yun's character. When he finished the story and posted it online, it quickly went viral.

"Many fans were eager to know what had happened to Yun Tianming. My book happened to satisfy that group," Baoshu said.

A short time later, Yao Haijun, chief editor of Science Fiction World, spoke with Baoshu, who contacted Liu, who gave The Redemption of Time his blessing. The novel was published in China in 2011.

Baoshu became a full-time sci-fi writer a year later. His journey is typical of successful Chinese sci-fi authors - they publish on bulletin boards, aka BBS, or online forums, attract a following and are then discovered by literary agents.

Baoshu and Liu got their starts on Shuimu Tsinghua, the first BBS for Chinese universities, and one of the most popular.

Another successful work that emerged from the site was Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing, which won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

The new generation of sci-fi writers, such as Baoshu and Hao, is deeply influenced by the internet subculture. Legions of fans debate and speculate about their books or films, picking over characters, storylines and plot gaps.

According to Baoshu, online writing is substantially different from the traditional form - in which authors work with literary agents or publishers - because it is freer.

"We can even make comic forms," he said, adding that support from fans on the BBS encouraged him to keep going and gave him his start.

"Actually, there were just a few dozen people on the BBS, but I could feel the number was growing," he said.

Now, he knows that an increasing number of people are reading sci-fi and sharing their views about the genre.

To date, The Redemption of Time has had thousands of reviews on Douban, one of the most popular book review sites on the Chinese mainland.

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