Sci-fi author speaks of our shared destiny

Xinhua
Liu Cixin said the prevalence of science fiction in China helps young people think of themselves as part of society and take a long-term view of the future.
Xinhua

Liu Cixin, author of sci-fi best-seller “The Three-Body Problem,” said the prevalence of science fiction in China helps young people think of themselves as part of society and take a long-term view of the future.

In a dialogue with Sheldon Brown, a visiting professor at the Interactive Media Arts Program of New York University Shanghai last week, Liu talked about his work and the future of humanity.

NYU Shanghai students filled the 400-seat auditorium, with many more sitting on the stairs and floor.

“The common ground of science fiction from the East and the West is much greater than the differences between them. This is the biggest difference between sci-fi and traditional literature,” said Liu.

Liu’s work always views the destiny of humanity as a whole. He does not separate people by nationality or race, which echoes sci-fi writing in the United States during its golden age of 1940s to 1950s.

Liu’s work has set off a new wave of sci-fi in China. Instead of thinking of sci-fi novels as children’s books, people have begun thinking about different possibilities for the future.

“Influenced by science fiction, the younger generation in China can see beyond their own daily life and care about the destiny of humanity,” said Liu.

As AI advances and expands, concerns about robots “taking over” human jobs and even the planet have emerged. But according to Liu, a rational optimist, it is important not to set up any forbidden zones in science.

“The biggest risk is hindering the development of science rather than the drastic development of a certain technology,” said Liu. “Humanity will have a bright future, but the key lies in choosing wisely.”

“The Three-Body Problem,” which made Liu the first Asian writer to win the Hugo Award, is to be made into a film.

“Science fiction is better presented by images rather than words,” Liu said.

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