From left: Flock of Brown Birds by Ge Fei, Mercy by Lu Nei, and The Cocoon by Zhang Yueran are among the titles published in 2016 in English or Chinese. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Wu Yan, director of the Sci-fi Study Center at Beijing Normal University, says he sees more attention being paid to the genre with a growing number of forums and seminars on campus.
Even though Liu Cixin had joked Chinese scientists were keeping their distance from sci-fi writers, Wu says that the China Association for Science and Technology took many initiatives to use sci-fi to promote popular science to the public, and its efforts included organizing the China Sci-Fi Festival, the first large-scale sci-fi event, in Beijing in September.
Besides, sci-fi works have also started entering classrooms, which used to dismiss such works, he says, adding "Even startups are focusing on sci-fi."
"But, despite the good news for sci-fi in China, I did not see too many good works produced in 2016. I think this partly due to the fact that the good news distracted writers."
However, despite his disappointment, Wu recommended a few works.
Among his picks were young sci-fi writer Jiang Bo, who has just finished the last installment of his trilogy The Heart of Galaxy, which won the World Chinese Science Fiction Association prize.
Wu also recommended River of Time, a work on time travel by 68-year-old Wang Jinkang, who has been writing sci-fi for more than 20 years.
Other notable mentions included the works of overseas Chinese Americans published in China such as short stories by sci-fi writer Ken Liu, whose translations of Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang works helped them win Hugo Award.
Another overseas Chinese American who won a mention was Karen Bao, a graduate from Columbia University, who has just published the first installment of her sci-fi series The Dove Chronicles in China.
On a more somber note, 2016 was also the year when China lost two literary stars: Chen Zhongshi and Yang Jiang.