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我想久久凝视这小小的蔚蓝色行星

中英对照版 2019年第2期 飞氘 2019-05-23

读刘慈欣的小说,会让我想到卡尔维诺在《美国讲稿》中关于文学之“重量”的讨论。最能体现刘慈欣对“重量”感受的,莫过于《流浪地球》。

本来,太阳演变为红巨星尚需几十亿年。我们多少会觉得,那时即便还有人类,也会发展出与这一时间尺度、事件规模相匹配的高超技术。但小说家让灾难突然降临,用可理解范围内的技术构想与社会形态,去承受空前的压力。任务的艰巨与手段的粗陋,形成了极端的不匹配,也由此促成了小说史上最悚然也最迷人的时刻之一:人类为地球装配上巨型发动机,推动着母星逃离太阳系

作为概念惊人的短篇小说,《流浪地球》最主要的看点是地球“刹车时代”与“逃逸时代”文明的凋敝:滔天巨浪漫过城市的废墟,洪水退潮时从摩天大楼的残骸中倾斜而下的道道瀑布,穿越小行星带时流星不断撞击造成的漫天尘埃经年不散……其中最恐怖的,当属地球与木星会合时地平线上缓缓升起的红色天幕。而这只是将持续两千五百年的漫长苦难的开始,是一百代人类将要经历的连番劫难的序章。显然,这个关于“逃逸”的故事以不断“叠印”沉重感为乐事。和诗人圭多•卡瓦尔坎蒂的轻盈一跃不同,刘慈欣说,在为命运一点点加速直到它逃出死亡的引力前,我们必先付出沉重的代价。

关于现代科学与工业文明的利弊,人们各有高见。在刘慈欣看来,人类必须毫不动摇地坚持发展科学技术、提升工业水平,唯有如此,才能在未来的种种天灾中赢取生机。对这一点,他从未有过质疑。不管人们对此如何誉毁,这里只想说,刘慈欣作品的钢铁底色其来有自。

从鸦片战争开始,中国被拖入了西方主导的民族大竞争中,“物竞天择,适者生存”渐成公理。连番的挫败催生了文化革新的诉求,国人对科幻小说的兴趣也从此而来。1902 年梁启超树起“小说界革命”的大旗,主张通过小说改造民众,包括凡尔纳的《海底两万里》在内的科幻小说成为备受青睐的类型之一。

1903 年 23 岁的周树人为他的科幻译作《月界旅行》写下一篇序言:作为一种渴望不断进步的生物,人类通过不懈的奋进,努力摆脱着自然的奴役,逐步走向更高的自由,《月界旅行》正是“以其尚武之精神,写此希望之进化者也”。此后的一个多世纪里,中国人历经磨难才赢回世界的几分尊重,中国科幻也几经沉浮才终于在新千年里结出硕果。当对怪力乱神无感的理论家们寻找着能让人类彼此和谐共处的新思想时,来自山西娘子关的工程师刘慈欣却只想提醒:思考一下灭顶之灾降临时人类该如何逃生吧!这种对生存的焦虑、对进化的执着以及对科学的崇拜,正是近现代中国核心命题在星际尺度上的再表达。

在由远古的神话、庄子的寓言、屈原的赋、李白的诗、东坡的词……所构建的华夏文学长河中,伟大而浪漫的心灵虽然一次次奏响过生命的律动,创造了众多不朽的篇章,但如何用汉语去表现科学革命之后的时空之广袤、探索之艰辛、定律之奥妙、技术之恢弘,抒发现代中国人的豪迈和悲悯,则是一个多世纪前才出现的全新任务。刘慈欣的写作,正代表了中国作家在尝试承担这一使命时的某种可能性。

就《流浪地球》而言,“地球流浪”这个光芒四射的概念以及随之而来的惊人的重量感,是小说最核心的魅力之源,而人类依靠残损的工业体系对这沉重的压迫所做的壮烈抗争,则是情感共鸣的关键触发。对我这样的读者而言,有这两点,已然足够。令人欣慰的是,电影虽然对原著做了相当大的改造,但两个关键点都得到了很好的继承和发展(事实上,从小说到电影的媒介转化过程,正好表明了大刘作为一个科幻艺术家的才华过人之处究竟何在)。如果说我对大银幕上的《流浪地球》还有什么不满,那也与技术设定是否无懈可击、情节安排是否合理、人物塑造是否成功、特效是否出色、剪辑是否流畅、价值观是否荒谬等等毫无关系。让我感到最不过瘾的,是地球在无际长夜中默默前行的镜头太短。如果可以,我想久久地凝视这小小的蔚蓝色行星,看着它在千万簇幽微火焰的推动下,迟缓而坚定地告别故乡。

是的,太阳完了,太阳系完了,可是,地球还没完。我们要用笨重可笑、破破烂烂的设备,拖拽着遍体鳞伤的母星,逃向新的家园。请不要问为什么,这就是我生存意志的最后表达。

( 因版面所限,经作者授权,发表时有部分删减。)

飞氘(科幻作家,清华大学中文系副教授,清华大学文学创作与研究中心执行主任)

I Want to Stare at This Little Blue Planet for a Long Time

Chinese-English No.2 2019 Fei Dao2019-05-23

Reading Liu Cixin’s novels always reminds me of Calvino’s discussion of the “weight” of literature in Six Memos for the Next Millennium. The novel that best represents Liu Cixin’s feeling of the “weight” is The Wandering Earth.

Originally, it takes several billion years for the Sun to turn into a red giant. To some extent, we may think that humans then will develop superb technology that matches this time scale and event scale. However, the novelist makes the disaster come suddenly, requesting human beings to withstand the unprecedented pressure with technical ideas and social formation of their current understanding. The extreme mismatch between the arduous tasks and simple techniques leads to one of the most horrible and fascinating moments in the history of novels: humans built giant engines on the earth to push the mother planet away from the solar system.

In this short story with staggering concept, the main attraction of The Wandering Earth is the demise of civilization in the “era of brake and escape” of the Earth: huge waves rushing over the ruins of the city, and when the floods ebb, waterfalls sloping down from the debris of skyscrapers and dust caused by meteors constantly striking across the asteroid belt scattered over the years... But the most terrifying scene is the red-colored sky spreading over slowly from the horizon when the Earth meets with Jupiter. However, this is only the beginning of the prolonged suffering that will last for 2,500 years and is only a prelude to the successive disasters that a hundred generations of human will experience. Obviously, this story about “escape” features in the sense of heaviness that is being constantly multiplied. Unlike the lightness in the poem of Guido Cavalcanti, Liu Cixin said that we must pay a heavy price before our fate is gradually fueled to escape the gravitational pull of death.

People have different opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of modern science and industrial civilization. In Liu Cixin’s view, human can only survive various natural disasters in the future through unswerving adherence to the development of science and technology and the upgrade of the industry level. That is the point that he has never questioned about. Regardless of how people comment on it, here I just want to say that the “hardcore” of Liu Cixin’s works has its origin.

Since the Opium War, China has been drawn into the Western-led national competition. It has become axiomatic that “only the fittest can survive natural selection”. Continuous frustrations have spawned the demands for cultural innovation, hence the interest of Chinese people in science fiction. In 1902, Liang Qichao raised the banner of “revolution of novels”, advocating the transformation of the people through novels. Science fiction, including Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , became one of the most popular types of novel. In 1903, the23-year-old Zhou Shuren, or Lu Xun, wrote a preface for his Chinese translation of a sci-fi novel From the Earth to the Moon: as a creature eager for continuous progress, human beings strive to get rid of the slavery of nature and gradually reach a higher-level freedom through unremitting efforts. The writer of From the Earth to the Moon precisely describes the promising evolvers in the novel with his martial spirit. In the later more than one century, Chinese regained some respect from the world in hardships, and Chinese science fiction finally bore fruits in the new millennium after going through ups and downs. While theorists who are insensitive to weird forces and spiritual being are looking for new ideas that allow humans to live in harmony with each other, Liu Cixin, an Niangziguan, Shanxi Province, only wants to remind people: think about how to escape when catastrophe strikes! This anxiety about survival, the persistence in evolution, and the worship of science are the re-expression of the core propositions of modern China on the interstellar scale.

The history of Chinese literature includes ancient myths, fables of Chuang Tzu, fu (descriptive prose interspersed with verse) of Qu Yuan, the poems of Li Bai and Su Dongpo..., where the great and romantic souls have moved readers with their immortal chapters. But how to use Chinese language to express the vastness of time and space, the hardships of exploration, the mystery of the law, the grandeur of technology after the scientific revolution, and to express the heroism and compassion of modern Chinese are new tasks that only emerged more than a century ago. Liu Cixin’s works represent the possibility of Chinese writers’ attempt to undertake this mission.

In terms of The Wandering Earth , the glorious concept of “the earth’s wandering” and the amazing sense of weight that comes with it are the main source of the novel’s fascination, and the heroic struggle of human beings against the heavy pressure with the damaged industrial system is the key trigger for emotional resonance. For readers like me, these two points are enough. It is gratifying to note that although the film has made a considerable adaptation to the original work, the two key points have been well inherited and developed (in fact, the media transformation from novel to film just demonstrates the outstanding talent of Liu as a sci-fi artist). If I have any complaints about the movie of The Wandering Earth , it has nothing to do with whether the technical setting is impeccable, whether the plot arrangement is reasonable, whether the characterization is successful, whether the special effects are excellent, whether the editing is smooth, whether the values are absurd, etc. What makes me feel least addictive is that the scene of the Earth moving silently in the endless night is too short. If possible, I want to stare at this little blue planet for a long time, watching it slowly and firmly bid farewell to its hometown fueled by tens of thousands of clusters of flames.

Yes, the Sun is over and the solar system is over, but the Earth is not over yet. We will drag the wounded mother planet and flee to our new home with heavy, ridiculous, and broken equipment. Please do not ask why, since this is the last expression of my will to survive.

By Fei Dao (Science Fiction Writer, Associate Professor of the Department of Chinese Language & Literature at Tsinghua University, Executive Director for Tsinghua's Center for Literary Writing and Research)

(Reduced version with the author’s authorization.)

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