M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Wandering Earth and the future of SciFi — the China syndrome?

December 8, 2018

foldingbeijingChinese science fiction has been up and coming for a while now. The work of Liu Cixin, for example, earned the author (or translator, not sure which) a Hugo Award. (I reviewed and found the Three-Body Solution to be full of interesting ideas but bogged down with poorly written dialogue, unexpected shifts in voice and style, stereotypes, and two-dimensional characters.)

And, of course, China is about to (re)discover itself as a major player on the world stage. Complete with the “only our civilization can save humanity” trope, a.k.a., just like the US.

So it was just a matter before Chinese cinema followed suit. Jackie Chan’s “Police Story In Space” movie aside, the first big “SciFi blockbuster” that comes out of China (The Wandering Earth) will be based on a novel by Liu Cixin. More unbelievable science and social status obsessions? (Moving the Earth itself to another solar system light years away…really? I mean, really?)

That said, the trailers do look interesting. I especially appreciate the use of language — unlike mainstream Hollywood movies where the world (and the rest of the universe) speaks English and that’s it — the trailers for The Wandering Earth not only have both Mandarin and English subtitles, they also include spoken English, Mandarin, and Russian among the characters. I hope there are other languages represented as well.

Chinese directors and producers know they need to include English subtitles to crack the global market, because (no offence to Mandarin speakers) Chinese is just not a global language. Yet. Will it be?

A topic for a future blog post, perhaps…

(For other Chinese science fiction stories that are completely and utterly obsessed with social status, see a brief review here. And note that I totally disagree with placing Liu Cixin as #1. He shouldn’t even be on the list, he’s such a blah writer. Or at least his translator is.)


  1. Interesting how culture drives fiction. I’ll have to check some of this work out. Thanks. 🙂


  2. Pingback: “Feel-bad Seventies Sci-Fi” — The influence on and by changing societies – M Thomas Apple Author Page

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