"Look at the fandom! Most of them are at their 40s or 50s. If a literature is welcomed by the chubby middle aged only, then where is the future of it?"
Chinese leading sci-fi writer Liu Cixin still remembered that the science fiction used to enjoy a golden age when almost all the writers and readers were vigorous youngsters.
Xinhua reporters talked with Liu following an awarding ceremony of the Hugo Awards, deemed the highest honors for science fiction works, at the 75th World Science Fiction Conference in Helsinki last weekend.
Liu's novel "The Three-Body Problem III: Death's End" did not win out although it was within the finalists of the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The winner was "The Obelisk Gate", the second book of a popular series written by American novelist N. K. Jemisin, who was the winner of the same award last year.
While Jemisin set the plot on a strange planet, she portrayed a picture that actually happens on the earth, with great effort in depicting the disparities between social classes.
LIGHT FANTASY STYLE
Liu Cixin witnessed a lot more of the Hugo winning works focusing on real lift problems such as ethnic discrimination, sexual bias, the impact of AI on human society etc in recent years. Different storytelling styles have also been adopted, he added.
Another example is the series of epic novels "A Song of Ice and Fire", which features what Liu described "a light fantasy style". "The fantasy element is not so evident in the novel, and the writer has shown great restraint in application of the super natural force," he elaborated.
Unlike the legendary work written by George P. R. Martin, the Chinese bestseller "The Three-Body Problem" written by Liu Cixin is considered representative of the traditional faction, or known as "hard science fiction". It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015, and was said to be possible to revive the taste of the genre.
"Actually it hasn't, and will never revive," said Liu. He told Xinhua, not without regret, that he would probably never again win the Hugo Award in his life.
Similarly regrettably, another excellent traditional science fiction series, "The Exapanse" has not won any of the Hugo Awards or Nebula Awards at all, noted Liu.
LACK OF MYSTERY
The cause of the decline of the traditional science fiction literary, Liu believes, is the lack of sense of mystery of science.
The science has been developed to an extent that people are surrounded and bombarded by all kinds of new technologies "so that people are not any more curious about the science fiction," he said.
The Americans started to try to turn the tide in 1970s, putting more effort on literariness, describing more of human thoughts than the aliens'. "But the effort seems to have little effect," said Liu.
The shortened distance between real science and the science fiction is the fatal challenge to traditional sci-fi writers, and what adds to the frustration is that Liu can "see no way out of the dilemma."