中英对照版 2019年第2期 飞氘 2019-05-23
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。
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.）