Preface by Renowned Chinese Sci-fi Writer Chen Qiufan for The Renascence: Oriental Imagination is Gaining Ground

7 min readDec 1, 2021

About the author

Chen Qiufan is one of the most famous sci-fi writers in China, known as “China’s William Gibson” for his realism and New Wave style. His representative works include The Waste Tide and A History of Future Illnesses, etc. In 2016, he translated Kevin Kelly’s book Silver Belt and brought it to Chinese readers. His works have won many awards in and out of China, including “The Galaxy Awards for Chinese Science Fiction”, “The Nebula Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy in Chinese”, and the 2012 “Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Award”. He has made significant contributions to the exchange of science fiction between the East and the West.

Since the launch of the Co-creation program for The Renascence, THiNG.FUND has received extensive attention from collectors, investors and people from all walks of life. On the other hand, the joint exploration of sci-fi with artists and fans worldwide and the reflection on the future of humanity has had a profound influence on the evolution of The Renascence Series. An advocate internationally and bridge between Eastern and Western culture, together with the Flow Blockchain, we are pleased to have one of the most renowned Chinese sci-fi authors, Chen QiuFan, write the preface for the series.

The Renascence: Oriental Imagination is Gaining Ground

The news that The Three-Body Problem would be adapted and aired both on Netflix and in China has led to heated discussions on social media, drawing people’s attention once again to the fast-rising Chinese sci-fi.

The Three-Body Problem, authored by Cixin Liu, has notched total sales of more than a 21million copies worldwide. It was translated into 19 languages, with six more authorized. The award-winning trilogy also registered sales of over 1million English copies and was recommended by elites and KOLs, including former U.S. President Barack Obama and Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. One could only call it phenomenal.

It is not hard to predict that when Netflix and Tencent release the adapted films of The Three-Body Problem, oriental sci-fi will spark more discussions across the world.

A bit more about Oriental Sci-Fi

As early as the 4th century BC, China had its first sci-fi story, though not in a strict sense. According to a story in one of the Taoist classics, a skilled craftsman presented a humanlike puppet to then King Mu of Zhou Dynasty that could walk, sing, and dance. It even made sheep’s eyes at King Mu’s favourite concubine. Outraged, King Mu suspected that the puppet was a real person and forced the craftsman to dismantle it, only to find a mixture of woods and leather.

But strictly speaking, as “modern” literature, sci-fi novels were born during the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late Qing Dynasty, the last imperial period in China, progressive scholars including Lu Xun and Liang Qichao wanted to use sci-fi novels to enlighten their fellow countrymen and plant the seeds of scientific spirit and institutional reform in the Chinese society. Lu Xun translated From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. Liang Qichao wrote a book, On the Future of a New China, where he envisioned a prosperous and powerful China that shines proudly in the international community.

After entering the 20th century, sci-fi novels were encouraged as a means to spread knowledge. In the book From the Earth to Mars, Zheng Wenhua told a story of three teenagers taking on an adventure to Mars with a stolen spaceship. This book was considered the first sci-fi novella in the history of the PRC. Ye Yongye exhibited his unimpeded imagination with the book A Trip to the Future by Xiao Lingtong, which became an instant hit in 1978. The author depicted a 21st century Utopia with all kinds of automation and new technologies. Nevertheless, one has to admit that these books were written for the children and were thus imbued with rosy scientific optimism.

1999 witnessed the explosive growth of Chinese sci-fi, triggered by a coincidence that the title of the essay of that year’s college entrance exam was the same as an article published in the Science Fiction World magazine, the only sci-fi publication in then China, driving the sales of the volume to 361,000 copies, marking a record for sci-fi magazines not only in China but throughout the world.

Most well-known Chinese sci-fi writers started their authorship journey in the Science Fiction World, including Cixin Liu. In 1999, Liu published The Wandering Earth in the magazine that left an indelible impression on a youngster who had just started college. Twenty years later, Frant Gwo, already a famous producer, turned the story into a blockbuster film that grossed around a 700million USD.

The film offers a glimpse into how the Chinese view the future of the shared destiny of humankind. The story begins when a hypothetical global crisis befalls humanity, and the world order will be overturned entirely. Unlike usual cataclysmic films, The Wandering Earth conveys oriental imagination, aesthetics and values, represented by the Chinese culture’s care for homeland and collective wellbeing. When the Earth is in danger, instead of deserting it and migrating to outer space, the humans choose to bring the Earth on a wandering trip. Instead of one or a few superheroes saving the Earth with individual heroism, the characters came together to form a United Earth Government that transcended any differences of ethnicity, nationality and ideology. Human beings chose to brave the disaster in solidarity.

That will help us know more about today’s China and Chinese culture.

Sci-fi novels contain a complex interplay between technology and humanity, interwoven with the author’s profound reflections. They are naturally global, not confined by language or cultural barriers. Intuitively vigilant against unchecked scientific development, they also reflect serious contemplation on the ecological crisis, technology abuse and life and ethics. They show admirations of science, and simultaneously, alertness against it. Such duality of thinking forms the inherent contradiction and unique narration of sci-fi works. They shape a non-familiar, but by no means detached, aesthetic experience. They are far more potent than any form of propaganda in triggering public reflections about the real world. That is the value of sci-fi.

Cixin Liu once commented that we could find large-scale sci-fi phenomena in the history of many powers, where surreal imaginations guided people in their technological and social transformations. It is fair to say that today’s sci-fi has risen beyond a literary category and become a cultural phenomenon and paradigm of thinking.

Naturally, in this global cultural movement that budded in Britain, saw full bloom in America but has branched out everywhere in the world, an oriental perspective should not be absent. Such an oriental viewpoint is not necessarily the “cycle of time and space” presented by Song Han in his book The Red Ocean or the idea of “Man-Nature Unity” as was discussed in Wang Jinkang’s book The Balance of Life and Death. The pursuit of “harmony”, conveyed by young writers with oriental myth, legends, objects, skills and symbols, is also a vivid illustration of the oriental viewpoint.

Last but not least, as a crystallization of collective imagination that keeps growing and pushing boundaries, oriental sci-fi should outgrow texts or films. Instead, it should be open to all kinds of technologies and media to create a new type of narrative art that erases the boundary between real and virtual and the line between creators and spectators or consumers. It can live in XR, NFT and even Metaverse.

Not only will we live in an era of oriental sci-fi, but the virtual universe built on top of Metaverse and crypto technologies need art and culture. By incubating talented young artists, THiNG.FUND helps them communicate their ideas to the world and builds a bridge that connects the cultural silos between West and East. Against this backdrop, three Chinese artists led the creation of The Renascence Series to offer their reflections on the future of humanity in the face of a hypothetic apocalypse. This reminds people of The Plague by Albert Camus, where the author tried to challenge his readers with a fictional disaster. What makes The Renascence different is that instead of discussing by portraying two opposing camps, the Oriental sci-fi tries to weave ruminations about the relationship between appearance and spirit, the similarity between man and nature and the laws of history into every line of the series.

We may be seeing oriental imagination gaining ground, like a butterfly flapping its wings, ready to stir changes in the broader world. Let’s look forward to it.

The Renascence collection
The Renascence is based on the assumption of what would be the future after the apocalypse. Soaring fireballs and explosions spread, and a storm of flames swept through hundreds of cities and turned them all into ashes. But what was more deadly was the ensuing disintegration. Smoke and dust obscured the sky, causing a sudden drop in temperature. Plants withered and died. Lethal radiation was everywhere, and the Earth’s ecology gradually fell apart. Humankind has to survive. What will we do then? Three artists from THiNG.FUND Selective Program are bringing us the beginnings of three storylines to face the post-apocalypse: — Interstellarist(ISP), to preserve the civilization by expanding among the stars; — Rebuilder(R3), fight it sturdily and struggle to rebuild the past glories; — Metascandee(MASC), dive into Metaverse as an ultimate resort. In their artworks, you will see the views of their Sci-Fi stories. But this is just the start, and humankind’s future needs everyone to get involved. The co-creation program provides the imagination space. With these art NFTs, you will join in different factions and have the corresponding qualification to join the faction community and share co-creations future profits.

Release date: 02 December 2021

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