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未来就是希望所在

--访科幻作家飞氘

中英对照版 2019年第2期 Chiara Cigarini 2019-05-23

在晚清时期,儒勒 • 凡尔纳的《从地球到月球》等西方科幻作品被翻译成中文,中国的科幻小说便随之发展起来,如今它已然征服了西方:在2015年,亚洲科幻首次获得雨果奖,那就是刘慈欣的科幻作品《三体》;2016 年,郝景芳的小说《北京折叠》也获得该奖项。今天的中国科幻已进入一个普遍繁荣的阶段,这个阶段的特点是:粉丝极其活跃,并且和睦共处;有像吴岩和宋明炜这样的学者教授在大学层面上推广、研究并教授这一文学体裁;也有韩松、刘慈欣和王晋康等作家的高质量创新作品,这些作品的新潮主题除了或多或少直接地反映了国家和全球问题以外,还与中国的国家梦想结合在一起。这些元素意味着中国制造的科幻小说开始走进西方的聚光灯中心,使其越来越受到非中国读者的关注,这是一个由科幻迷、汉学家和无性别差异的读者构成的群体,他们被这个特别疏远的“新颖性文学”激发起兴趣,这其中不乏美国前任总统奥巴马。对于西方来说,这一文学类型代表了一面镜子,同时又是一个关于文化差异的窗口,一个中国面向世界的窗口。飞氘(贾立元)是一位专门研究中国科幻小说的学者,也是一位多产作家;清华大学比较文学博士和创作写作教授,是一位非常多产又有趣的中国“80 后”作家。这次就让我们和他一起坐下来畅谈科幻小说、中国文化和未来。

作者 : 在您的作品中,您经常将对技术的兴趣与中国文化分析相结合,这两种元素的相互作用是如何通过当代中国科幻反映出来的?

飞氘 : 一百多年前,中国科幻开始萌芽,缘起于现代西方科技的传入,中国本土的小说开始模仿外国的科幻作品,把对科技、未来、外星的想象纳入中国的小说中。科技本身也可以算是一种“文化”吧,怎么把它融入中国本土的文化中,以及融入之后会遇到什么样的问题,一直是中国科幻的一个主要话题。既有积极的方面,也有消极的方面。积极的,比如,晚清时的小说家希望把西方的强大科技与中国的道德融合,创造一个科技发达又符合儒家理想的乌托邦,最典型的代表是吴趼人的《新石头记》;消极的,比如当代作家韩松的作品,像《美女狩猎指南》,科技的发达被服务于最黑暗的原始兽欲,令人感受到技术带来的新的压迫。如果说中国科幻在这方面有什么特色的话,也许可以说:现代理性精神中演变出来的科学和技术,不是从中国本土文化自然生成的,如何接纳这种文化,保证它能引领中国走向光明的未来,成为现代中国的一种焦虑。举例来说,不久之前,中国还没有一位诺贝尔科技奖的获得者,成为中国人心头的一个巨大焦虑。

作者: 在您的一本关于孔子的小说中,他回到泰山,试图“揭开中国文明的奥秘”。 您是希望复兴中国古老的文化价值观还是某种启蒙运动?

飞氘 : 古今中外的所有伟大人物,其实都会面临一些最基本的问题:宇宙是什么,人类是什么,人类在宇宙中的命运如何,诸如此类的问题。为了探索宇宙的真理而不惜牺牲生命,为了广大的普通人而奉献自我,这些行动,始终在继续。所以我觉得,古代和现代,或者说历史和现实,东方和西方,总能发现一些精神上相通的地方。所以我才让古代的人们走进科幻的宇宙,但这并不表示我主张古代文化要在今天全面复兴。相反,我在最基本的立场上,是一个现代人,是拥护启蒙和现代的。毫无疑问,今天的中国,还有很多“前现代”的东西,是我非常不喜欢的。我喜欢传统文化价值中的一些精华,比如人与人之间的谦和、温情,对家庭关系的重视等等,但我们的生活方式已经彻底变化了,当宇宙开发、赛博格、人工智能等问题越来越切近的时候,我们正走入一个未知的新时代,我们需要创造一些新的价值。

作者 : 通过分析韩松的作品,您曾经写过他的“鬼魅中国”就像一个动态发展的怪物,它的曲折前进,是现代技术与“五千年内在逻辑”之间相遇的产物,这被称为“东方精神”。 您如何定义“你的中国”?

飞氘 : 在《中国科幻大片》这部小说集里,我开始有意识地将科幻构想与对自己国家的想象融合起来。偶然地,我在西方科幻小说、好莱坞科幻电影提供的种种科幻构思中,看到了可以和中国的历史、神话人物组合起来的可能性。我让古老中国的英雄、圣贤、叛徒闯入了科幻的世界里,让他们面临宇宙坍塌、太阳熄灭、对抗Matrix等等的命运,我想知道如果他们面临这些困境,会做何等的选择。突然间,我发现了理解自己这个民族的另一种方式。对于历史老师来说,这显然是“虚假” 的方式,它并没有让我对“真实”的历史有更多的理解。然而,就像所有人都会引用的那句名言,“一切历史都是当代史”,所以我重新想象那些想要拯救苍生的英雄壮举,让它们在一个科幻的宇宙里再次上演,然后有了全新的风格,和一种让我自己浑身起鸡皮疙瘩的感受。这种感受让我确信,那些逝去的过往,在我的皮肤上复活了。我觉得,我小说中的中国,既有非常Gloomy的一面,也有非常热情的一面,因为我自己的性格,还是对世界怀有期待,对伟大和崇高的行为满怀敬意,我希望希望世界变得比从前更好一些,人类比从前更进步一些。

作者 : 您什么时候开始写科幻小说的?为什么? 哪位作者对你影响最大?

飞氘 : 我从初中时代就开始看科幻小说,我喜欢这种类型的作品,它和我不切实际、喜欢幻想的性格很相符,我喜欢那些超越日常的世界。所以当我开始写作的时候,就确信总有一天会选择科幻的。

对我的写作影响最大的作家,基本上都是 20 世纪的作家。我喜欢那种想象力异常丰富的作家,比如鲁迅、郑渊洁、王小波,还有卡尔维诺、马尔克斯。20世纪之前的作家,我也能够欣赏,比如托尔斯泰、曹雪芹。但是,我总觉得在内在的气质上,还是 20 世纪的作家更能引起我的共鸣。

作者 : 您是否同意中国科幻小说有其独特之处,因为中国过去、现在和未来同时存在于同一时空?

飞氘 : 同意。至少在鲁迅的时候就已经提出了这种说法。即便是在今天,仍能看到很古老的行为模式和很现代、前卫的举动并存,这是中国人必须面临的挑战。中国地域太大了,它以空间的广袤和多样性,包容了不同的时间切片,不同时代的事物、价值观,都能找到生存空间。上海的陆家嘴,和许多最贫穷的山村,代表着完全不同的时间样本,这很有意思。我猜测,没有切身体会过这一点的外国人,就不太容易打破自己对于“中国”的任何一种刻板的印象。

作者 : 韩松曾经说过:“中国现实本身就是科幻小说。” 您对此有何看法?

飞氘 : 我很同意。这句话可以从非常多的角度进行理解,这就是它的妙处。然而当它被说得过多的时候,可能也会逐渐失去它的思想震撼力。不管怎么说,要认识中国的现实实在太难了,一点也不比学会相对论更容易。

作者 : 在您看来,科幻比其他文学体裁更适合描述像中国的未来吗? 您如何在写作中处理中国现实?

飞氘 : 应该这么说:当一个作品要以合理的方式描绘中国的未来,或者说在“当下”中孕育未来趋势的时候,就已经具备了科幻的特征,可以被认为是一部科幻性质的作品了。很多人明明写了科幻作品,却害怕自己的作品被贬低,于是强调“借用科幻的构思”“表面上是一个科幻故事”等说法,这让我很困惑。他写的明明就是科幻小说,之所以拒绝承认,只是因为人们对“科幻”本身有太多的偏见。就像前面所说,中国的现实太难认识了,比如北京的房价,恐怕就连诺贝尔经济学奖得主也把握不好。所以我的写作中,还没办法很好地处理现实问题,这是我个人的局限性。

作者 : 在您的写作中,未来扮演的角色是什么?

飞氘 : 未来,就是我特别期待到来的时刻。尽管我会在写作中讨论死亡的问题,但是我自己总是在身体健康的时候,幻想自己还可以活很多年——这一点上我一点也没有研究者应该有的严谨态度,不想去考虑别的可能性——现在不理想的生活,总会在未来更理想,现在那些折磨着人类的可怕疾病,总会在未来被治愈。这就是未来对我的意义。所谓“未来”,在我的写作中,就是那个我本人无法亲眼见证。所以只能通过写作恣意去构造的神奇地方。未来,就是希望所在的地方。

Chiara Cigarini

正在攻读北师大博士课程,研究方向是中国科幻文学

The Future is Where Hope Lies

--An interview with science fiction writer Fiction Fei Dao

Chinese-English No.2 2019 Chiara Cigarini2019-05-23

In the late Qing dynasty (1840-1911 A.D.), Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and other Western science fiction works were translated into Chinese, along with which the Chinese science fiction started to develop. Now the Chinese science fiction has won the hearts of Western readers. In 2015, the Hugo Award went to an Asian science fiction novel, Liu Cixin’s sci-fi work The Three-body Problem for the first time. In 2016, Hao Jingfang’s novel Folding Beijing also won the award. Today’s Chinese science fiction industry is going through a general booming stage. There are some characteristics of this stage: fans are literally active and establish a rapport with each other; scholars and professors like Wu Yan, Song Mingwei promote, research into, and teach these works in universities; writers such as Han Song, Liu Cixin and Wang Jinkang have produced high-quality and innovative works whose up-to-date themes, not just directly reflect more or less the national and global issues, but also stay close to China’s national dreams. These characteristics mean that Chinese-made science fiction novels have begun to move closer to the western spotlight, thus attracting more and more attention from readers in other countries. Intrigued by the alien “novelty literature”, the reader group consists of sci-fi fans, sinologists, gender-neutral readers, and even the former U.S. President Barack Obama. As for the West, this literary genre functions as a mirror, and at the same time as a window of cultural differences and a window to the world for China. Fei Dao, aka Jia Liyuan, is a scholar specialized  in Chinese science fiction, a doctor of Comparative Literature and a professor teaching creative writing in Tsinghua University, a post-80s prolific and interesting Chinese writer. Now let us sit down and have a discussion about the science fiction and the Chinese culture and future with Fei Dao.

Author: In your works, you often combine your interest in technology and the analysis of the culture. How does the contemporary Chinese science fiction reflect the interaction between these two elements?

Fei Dao: More than 100 years ago, the Chinese science fiction was budding as a result of the introduction of modern western technology. Chinese native novels began to imitate foreign sci-fi works, and then included fantasies about technology, future and aliens into Chinese novels. Technology itself can also be regarded as a kind of “culture”. The problems about how to integrate the technology into Chinese culture and what problems would arise have remained as a major theme of Chinese science fiction and the exploration reflects both positive and negative aspects. As for the positive side, the novelists in the late Qing dynasty, for example, hoped to integrate the powerful western technology with Chinese morality and create a technologically advanced Utopia which is also conforming to Confucian ideals. The most representative work is Wu Jianren’s The New Story of Stone. As for the negative side, in Beauty Hunting Guide by contemporary writer Han Song, for example, the development of technology served for the darkest and primitive sexual desire, which made people feel new repression caused by technology. In terms of characteristics of Chinese science fiction in this respect, we should in the first place, recognize that science and technology, which is not cultivated in traditional Chinese environment, has evolved with a spirit of sense. And how to accept science and technology, and make them lead China to a brighter future has become a modern anxiety spread in Chinese society. For example, the long-awaited Chinese national winning of a Nobel Prize for science once remained an acute anxiety among Chinese people.

Author: In your novel about Confucius, he returned to Mount Tai, trying to “uncover the mysteries of Chinese civilization”. Are you hoping to revitalize the ancient Chinese cultural values or to start some kind of enlightenment movement?

Fei Dao: All great men at all times and around the world would face some basic questions: what is the universe, what is mankind, and what is the fate of mankind in the universe? Actions like sacrificing one’s life to explore the truth of the universe and dedicating oneself to the vast majority of ordinary people always exist. So, I think there are always some spiritual similarities between ancient and modern times, or between the history and reality as well as the East and the West. That’s why I bring the ancient people into the universe of science fiction, but this doesn’t mean I advocate that ancient culture should be fully revived today. On the contrary, basically, I am a modernist and I am in favor of enlightenment and modernity. There is no doubt that in today’s China, there are many “pre-modern” things, which I really dislike. I admire the essence of traditional cultural values, such as modesty and warmth between people, and valuing family relations, etc. But our lifestyle has changed radically. When space exploitation, Cyborg, artificial intelligence get closer and closer, we are entering a new era of uncertainty, so that we need to create some new values.

Author: After analyzing Han Song’s works, you wrote that the “Gloomy China” was like a monster moving dynamically in a winding path and was the product of interaction between modern technology and “intrinsic logic of five thousand years” of the so-called “oriental spirit.”. So, how do you define China?

Fei Dao: In the novel collection Chinese Sci-Fi Blockbusters, I began to consciously combine the sci-fi concepts with the fantasy of my country. Occasionally, I suddenly saw the possibility of combining Chinese history and mythical characters with various sci-fi ideas provided by the western science fiction and Hollywood sci-fi movies. I bring ancient Chinese heroes, sages, and traitors into the world of science fiction, and let them face the collapsed universe, the extinguished sun, the fight against Matrix and other fates. I want to know what choices they would make if they had faced these difficulties. Suddenly, I found another way of understanding my own nation. In history teachers’ mind, this is obviously a “false” way which doesn’t allow me to have a better understanding of the “real” history. However, as the famous saying that everyone quotes goes, “All history is contemporary history”. So, I re-imagine the heroic feats who want to save lives, and let them re-enact in a sci-fi universe. This helps me generate a new style of science fiction and gives me goose bumps. This feeling convinces me that the past was resurrected on my skin. I feel that the China in my novel has both gloomy and warm sides because I am still optimistic about the world and I have huge respect for the great and noble behaviors. I hope that the world will be better and human will be more enlightened.

Author: When did you start writing science fiction? Why did you start? And which writer influences you the most?

Fei Dao: I started reading science fiction since junior high school. I like this kind of fiction because it echoes with my unrealistic and quixotic personality. I like those worlds beyond daily life. So, the moment I began to write, I was sure that sooner or later I would write science fiction.

The writers who have the biggest influence on me are basically writers in the 20th century. I admire the writers with extraordinary imagination like Lu Xun, Zheng Yuanjie, Wang Xiaobo, Italo Calvino and Gabriel García Márquez. I also like some writers before the 20th century such as Leo Tolstoy and Cao Xueqin. But I still feel that the writers in the 20th century find an echo in my mind in terms of their inherent styles. 

Author: Do you agree that Chinese science fiction has its unique features because the past, present and future China coexist at the same time?

Fei Dao: I agree. This statement has already been put forward in as early as Lu Xun’s days. Even in today’s China, it is still possible to see the coexistence of the old behavioral patterns and the modern and avant-garde acts. This is a challenge that the Chinese must face. China has a vast territory. Based on the vastness and diversity of its territory, China embraces different time slices and the things and values of different eras can find a living space. For instance, Lujiazui in shanghai and many the poorest mountain villages represent completely different time samples, which is very interesting. I don’t think it is easy for foreigners who haven’t experienced the contrast to break stereotypes about China.

Author: Han Song once said: “China’s reality can be likened to a science fiction story.” Do you have any comments on this statement?

Fei Dao: I agree with this statement. What makes his words ingenious is that it can be understood from many perspectives. When the point of view is talked about for too many times, however, it may gradually lose its impact on ideology. Anyway, it is too difficult to understand China’s reality. It's no easier than learning the theory of relativity.

Author: In your opinion, do you think that the science fiction is more suitable than any other literary genre to describe China’s future? And how do you deal with China’s reality in your writing?

Fei Dao: Or rather, when a work tries to depict China’s future in a reasonable way or predict the future trend, it already has the characteristics of science fiction and can be considered as a sci-fi work. Many people who have written sci-fi works are afraid that their works would be degraded therefore. And they emphasize the idea of “borrowing sci-fi ideas” and “with a sci-fi story cover”. This confuses me. What they write is literally a science fiction. The reason why they refuse to admit is that people have too much prejudice against science fiction. Just as what I have said, it is too difficult to understand China’s reality. For example, maybe even a Nobel laureate in economics does not have a full picture of the housing prices in Beijing. So, in my writing, I still cannot handle realistic problems well and this is my personal limitation.

Author: In your writing, what is the role of the future?

Fei Dao: The future is the moment I really look forward to. Although I discuss death in my writing, I always imagine that I can live for many more years when I am in good health since I believe that the current unsatisfactory life will be more ideal in the future and those terrible diseases that afflict people will be cured in the future eventually. At this point, I lack a rigorous attitude as a researcher should have in that I do not want to consider other possibilities of the future. This is what the future means to me. So, the future in my writing is a magical place that I can imagine without limitation through writing but cannot witness by myself. The future is a place where hope lies.

By Chiara Cigarini

A Ph.D student in the modern and contemporary literature program at the School of Literature,  Beijing Normal University. Her research direction is Chinese science fiction literature.

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