Top 20 translated sci-fi novels in China in 2014


The Publishers Weekly published an article on May 22 about the prominent presence of China in 2015 BookExpo America (BEA). Particularly newsworthy were two items linked from this article – Joel Martinsen’s “Chinese SF Blasts Off” and Ken Liu’s “Coming to America: Liu Cixin”.

As Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem was recently nominated for the Hugo Awards, it is now well known that Ken Liu is the translator of this book, originally titled “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”, which was published by Tor Books in 2014. Martinsen is the translator of The Dark Forest, the second book in the Three Body trilogy, while Eric Abrahamsen handles the translation of the third and final book, Death’s End.

As Martinsen points out in “Chinese SF Blasts Off”, science fiction has gone mainstream in China in recent years and is mainly driven by short stories. More importantly, while various talented writers are increasingly attracting the attention of readers in China and publishers in the West, local SF is still far outnumbered by translations.

According to Chinese SF writer Bao Shu (Phenixus), a total of 74 science fiction titles were translated and published in China in 2014. Among them, some 50 were newly introduced, i.e. genuine SF titles that are neither “children’s literature” nor works of “popular science”; they are not re-translations of existing publications, either.

Bao Shu lists the following 20 titles as the most worthy of recommendation to Chinese readers. While these reflect only one (very well read) Chinese SF writer’s literary taste, they shed some light on the kind of English and Japanese SF titles in which Chinese publishers are interested. They may also inspire SF writers in the West into exploring some of the subjects and themes that are attractive to Chinese readers.

No.20: The Lord of the Sands of Time (2009) by Japanese author Issu Ogawa


No.19: Genocide of One (2011) by Japanese author Kazuaki Takano


No.18: Eon (Book 1 of The Way trilogy) (1985) by Greg Bear


No.17: Redshirts (2012) by John Scalzi


No.16: Ada (1994) by Japanese author Masaki Yamada


No.15: Ship Breaker (2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi


No.14: Biogenesis and Other Stories (2008) by Japanese author Tatsuaki Ishiguro


No.13: Coyote: A Novel of Interstellar Exploration (2002) by Allen Steele


No.12: Genocidal Organ (2007) and Harmony (2010) by Japanese author Project Itoh


No.11: The Unincorporated Man (2009) by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin


No.10: Mortal Engines (2001), Predator’s Gold (2003) and Internal Devices (2005) by Philip Reeve


No.9: Endymion (1996) and The Rise of Endymion (1997) by Dan Simmons


No.8: The Shape of Thought and Others (2014) by Ken Liu


No.7: Idoru (1996) by William Gibson


No.6: 11/22/63 (2011) by Stephen King


No.5: Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline


No.4: Blood Music (1985) by Greg Bear


No.3: Across the Universe (2011), A Million Suns (2012) and Shades of Earth (2013) by Beth Revis


No.2: From the New World (2008) by Japanese author Yusuke Kishi


No.1: The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov


Please note that Ken Liu’s The Shape of Thought and Others is a collection of translated short stories produced by a Chinese publisher, i.e. it is not a collection written in English and later translated into Chinese. Also, regarding Stephen King’s 11/22/63, it was widely reported in Chinese media in September 2014, when the Simplified Chinese edition was published, that there are plenty of mistakes in the translation. In his writing, Bao Shu indicates that he has read the English edition.



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