Brief Introduction of Liu Cixin (bilingual)

2016年07月21日

Brief Introduction of Liu Cixin ---- 雨果奖《三体》作者刘慈欣介绍

  Liu Cixin, China's most popular science-fiction writer, is 52 yearsold and has written thirteen books. He worked as a softwareengineer at a power plant in Shanxi. In China, he is about asfamous as William Gibson in the United States; he s oftencompared to Arthur C. Clarke, whom he cites as an influence.His most popular book, “The Three-Body Problem,” has beentranslated into English by the American sci-fi writer Ken Liu, andin China it's being made into a movie, along with its sequels.

  刘慈欣是中国最受欢迎的科幻作家,现年52岁的他著有13作品。刘慈欣曾担任山西省某发电厂的软件工程师。他在中国的知名度可以和美国科幻作家威廉·吉布森(William Gibson)相媲美。人们常将刘慈欣与亚瑟·克拉克(Arthur C. Clarke)相提并论,而刘慈欣称自己受到了克拉克的影响。刘慈欣最受欢迎的小说《三体》(The Three-Body Problem)已经被美籍华裔科幻作家刘宇昆(Ken Liu)译成了英语。在中国,《三体》三部曲的电影也已在拍摄中。

  Liu Cixin's writing evokes the thrill of exploration and the beauty of scale. “In my imagination,”he told me, in an e-mail translated by Ken Liu, “abstract concepts like the distance marked by alight-year or the diameter of the universe become concrete images that inspire awe.”

  刘慈欣的作品唤起了人们对探索和宏观之美的兴奋感。在一封经刘宇昆翻译的电子邮件中,刘慈欣告诉我:“在我的想象中,以光年计量的距离和宇宙直径这类抽象概念变成了具体的形象,令人心生敬畏。”

  American science fiction draws heavily on American culture, of course—the war for independence,the Wild West, film noir, sixties psychedelia—and so humanity s imagined future often looks a lotlike America's past. For an American reader, one of the pleasures of reading Liu is that his storiesdraw on entirely different resources.

  毋庸置疑,美国科幻小说很大程度上取材于美国文化,包括独立战争、西部荒野、黑色电影、60年代的迷幻风潮,因此,人文科学所构想的未来世界与美国的过去存在很大程度的相似性。对美国读者来说,阅读刘慈欣作品的乐趣之一在于他的故事取材完全不同。

  Much of “The Three-Body Problem” is set during the Cultural Revolution. In “The Wages ofHumanity,” visitors from space demand the redistribution of Earth's wealth, and explain thatrunaway capitalism almost destroyed their civilization. I doubt that any Western sci-fi writer hasso thoroughly explored the theme of filial piety.

  小说《三体》的故事背景大抵都是文化大革命(the Cultural Revolution)期间。在《赡养人类》(The Wages of Humanity)这部小说中,太空来客要求重新分配地球财富,并解释说失控的资本主义几乎摧毁了他们的文明。我不太确定西方科幻作家会如此全面深入地探讨“孝道”这一主题。

  But it's not cultural difference that makes Liu's writing extraordinary. His stories are fables abouthuman progress—concretely imagined but abstract. Take the novella “Sun of China,” whichfollows Ah Quan, a young man from a rural village that has been impoverished by drought. In thefirst three chapters, Ah Quan sets out from the village and finds work in a mine; he travels to aregional city, where he learns to shine shoes, and moves to Beijing, where he works as askyscraper-scaling window-washer. Then the story takes a turn.

  刘慈欣作品的特别之处并非在于文化差异。他的故事都是一些有关人类发展的寓言——既是具体的想象,同时又是抽象的概念。在他的短篇小说《中国太阳》(Sun of China)中,主人公是个叫做阿全的年轻小伙子,他来自一个遭受旱灾的贫困乡村。在小说的前三章里,阿全离开了村子,到矿上找工作;接着他又到了一个地级市,在那里学会了擦皮鞋,之后辗转来到北京,当起了一名高楼外墙玻璃清洗工。后来,故事情节出现了一个转折。

  We discover that it's the future: China has constructed a huge mirror in space called the ChinaSun, and is using it to engineer the climate. Ah Quan gets a job cleaning the reflective surface ofthe China Sun. It turns out that Stephen Hawking is living in orbit, where the low gravity hashelped to prolong his life; Hawking and Ah Quan become friends and go on space walks together.The physicist teaches the worker about the laws of physics and about the vastness of the universe,and Ah Quan s mind begins to dwell on the question of humanity s fate: Will we explore the stars,or live and die on Earth? Soon afterward, he is saying goodbye to his parents and setting out on aone-way mission to explore interstellar space. By the end of the story, Ah Quan s progress isrepresentative of humanity s. He has traversed an enormous social and material distance, but itpales in comparison to the journey ahead.

  我们发现书中描述的是未来的世界:中国在太空建造了一面巨大的镜子,它被称为“中国太阳”,用于调节气候。阿全的工作是清洁“中国太阳”反光表面。原来斯蒂芬·霍金(Stephen Hawking)生活在轨道上,因为那里的重力小,他的生命得以延长;后来霍金和阿全成为了朋友,一起去太空漫步。这位物理学家向这个工人讲授了物理学定律和宇宙的浩瀚,阿全的内心开始思考人类命运:我们要去探索其他星球吗?还是就在地球上度过一生?不久,他就向父母告别,踏上了探索星际的单程之旅。故事结尾,阿全取得的进步代表着全人类的进步,尽管他跨越了巨大的社会和物质距离,但与未知的旅程相比,这显得微不足道。

  Liu s stories aren't always so tender; in imagining the human future, his romantic sweetness isbalanced with harsh objectivity. In “The Wandering Earth,” scientists discover that the sun isabout to swell into a red giant. In response, they build enormous engines capable of pushing theentire planet toward another star—an “exodus” that will last a hundred generations, during whicheverything on the surface will be destroyed. Watching the deadly sun recede and transform intoa star like any other, the protagonist cries out, “Earth, oh my wandering Earth!” And yet the storysuggests that this is just the sort of outrageous project we'll need in order to insure humanity'slong-term survival.

  刘慈欣的故事不完全是这么温和的;在想象人类的未来时,他笔下的浪漫甜蜜与残酷现实是相辅相成的。在《流浪地球》(The Wandering Earth)中,科学家们发现太阳将要膨胀为巨大的红色星体。因此,他们建造了巨大的引擎,这些引擎能够将整个地球推向另一颗恒星——一场持续上百代的“大迁移”就此展开。在此期间,地球表面的一切都将被摧毁。看着致命的太阳渐渐远去,变得模糊,最后变得与其他星体无异,主人公哭喊着“地球,我流浪的地球啊!”然而,这个故事向我们暗示了,我们需要种种匪夷所思的解决方案来保证人类的长存。

  “In the distant future, if human civilization survives and spreads through the cosmos, humanitymust create technological marvels at ultra-grand scales,” Liu wrote to me.

  刘慈欣在邮件中写道:“在遥远的未来,如果人类文明在宇宙间生存繁衍的话,人类必需创造超乎寻常的科技奇迹。”

  I believe science and technology can bring us a bright future, but the journey to achieve it will befilled with difficulties and exact a price from us. Some of these obstacles and costs will be quiteterrible, but in the end we will land on the sunlit further shore. Let me quote the Chinese poet XuZhimo from the beginning of the last century, who, after a trip to the Soviet Union, said, “Overthere, they believe in the existence of Heaven, but there is a sea of blood that lies between Heavenand Hell, and they ve decided to cross the sea.”

  我深信,科学技术能够给我们带来光明美好的未来,但是实现的过程会充满艰难险阻,我们要为此付出代价。其中有些阻碍非常艰难,有些代价非常高昂,但是我们终将抵达阳光明媚的彼岸。请允许我援引上世纪初中国诗人徐志摩在游历前苏联(Soviet Union)之后写下的诗句:“他们相信天堂是有的,可以实现的,但在现实世界与那天堂的中间隔着一座海,一座血污海,人类泅得过这血海,才能登彼岸,他们决定先实现那血海。”

  But to what end? Humanity can't survive everything; the last volume of the “Three-Body” trilogyis set, in part, during the heat-death of the universe. Liu s stories see life from two angles, as botha titanic struggle for survival and as a circumscribed exercise in finitude. In my favorite of hisstories, “The Mountain”—it's available in English in a short-fiction collection called “The WanderingEarth”—mountain climbing is proposed as a metaphor for this contradiction. “It is the nature ofintelligent life to climb mountains,” inter-dimensional alien explorers explain. But the universe isso unknowable that “we are all always at the foot,” and will never reach the peak. In anotherstory, “The Devourer,” a character asks, “What is civilization? Civilization is devouring, ceaselesslyeating, endlessly expanding.” But you can't expand forever; perhaps it would be better, anothercharacter suggests, to establish a “self-sufficient, introspective civilization.” At the core of Liu'ssensibility, in short, is a philosophical interest in the problem of limits. How should we react to theinherent limitations of life? Should we push against them or acquiesce?

  但是,终点在哪里呢?人类无法保存一切;《三体》三部曲的最后一部中,部分情节设定在宇宙热死亡期间。刘慈欣的故事从两个不同角度来审视生命:一个是为生存而顽强斗争,一个是在界限内受限制的行为。在他所有作品中,我最喜欢的是《山》(The Mountain)——在短篇小说集《流浪地球》中有它的英文译本——此文以登山作为这个矛盾的隐喻。跨纬度的外星探索者解释“登山是智慧生命的本质”。但是宇宙神秘而不可知,以至于“我们总是在山脚下,”且永远也到不了顶峰。在另一个故事《吞食者》中,书中人物问“什么是文明?文明就是吞食,不停地吃啊吃,不停地扩张和膨胀。”但是你不可能永远在扩张,另一个人物建议道,也许建立一个“自给自足的、内省的文明”会更好,另一个人物这样建议。简而言之,一言以蔽之,刘慈欣的理性内核是对极限问题的哲学思考。我们应该如何应对生命固有的局限性?我们应该反抗,还是认命?

  “Everything ends,” Liu said, in his e-mail, “and describing what is inevitable should not be viewedas a form of pessimism. Take the example of a romantic tale: 'The lovers lived happily ever after'would clearly be viewed as an optimistic story. But if you add a coda—'A hundred years later,they were both dead‘—does that turn the story pessimistic? Only science fiction can go as far as 'ahundred years later’ at the scale of the universe.”

  刘慈欣在邮件中提到:“没什么是永恒的,描述必然性不应当被视为一种悲观主义。就拿爱情故事来说, 恋人从此幸福快乐地生活在一起 我们当然认为这是一个乐观的故事。但如果你在结尾再加一句—— 百年过后,他们两个都去世了 ——难道就变成了一个悲观的故事了吗?只有科幻小说可以描写 百年之后 的浩瀚宇宙。”


  


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Summer Reading Seminar--“书香中国”论坛亮相书展 《三体》作者刘慈欣将与读者见面 “The Three-Body Problem(EN)” has sold more than 110 thousand copies over a year ago(bilingual)

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