There were so many activities happening on the 7th September of 2013. Like, whyyyy. Why was everything happening on that Saturday? Like the launch of the Malay Language Month (Bulan Bahasa), Let’s Play (an analogue gaming convention), open house of Goodman Arts centre with various workshops and exhibitions… Well that wasn’t the only ones but yeah EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING that day.
I managed to get to Ken Liu’s 2pm-3.30pm session about science fiction at the national library. Spoiler alert: It ended around 4pm because people wanted to know MORE. So it tells you how good it was.
OH MAN. WHAT HE SAID. WELL. I can’t write it down ALL of it for you guys cause the whole session was a session of awesome. Like how American publishing likes a certain kind of books when it is sci-fi/fantasy and that the ‘ultimate’ feeling in books is apparently romance. Like for relationships it is truly romance if you read US stories. There isn’t as much with the feeling of family and whatnot.
You have them but mostly ROMANCE DUDES. ROMANCE.
This isn’t a good/bad thing. It’s just a stated thing and that Asian stories have a different quality. For example he said that Japanese books don’t have to have it like US scifi/fantasy books that have a hero(ine) who is against the world who has to solve a problem. You can have stories in Japanese books where two people meet, have tea, talk and go home and… it’s refreshing!
It was more of a “WOW, it is true!” kind of moment since I read the various styles and US ones have more of a me-centric thing.
A quote from him regarding the universes in fiction:
China and the US are both very similar: they are both cultures with a very self-centred view of the world.Their existential anxiety is not about disappearing from the world but about no longer mattering to the world.
Also that when he wrote a story about HIS own culture and whatnot, the white people have commented that it’s very not Chinese or it’s so racist and sometimes you just go “Whaaaaaaaat?”.
This is actually a thing if you have been around POC issues in SFF or in general fiction. Like, sometimes you just want to flip tables.
I was also “GASSSSP” because I realized I did have a less US-centric style of story telling. It had the bit of family and togetherness and whatnot instead of me against the world for all of them. I had it for some but it’s not for all.
Other stuff we learned was that he was doing a Chinese to English translation of some of the most popular Chinese science fiction stories! It’ll be announced on Tor soonish? Sort of. IT WILL TAKE TIME.
He told us how translation works and you go to a translator who can write or feel more in the chosen language they translate INTO than from.
So the session which I got was super informative, too bad I couldn’t stay for the next one since I had some other event to attend to.
GO READ BOOKS, PEOPLE.