Hao Jingfang

Tagged: Author

(1984-    ) Chinese author whose writing displays a poignant Sense of Wonder at the meteoric development that China has seen during her own lifetime (compare to Guo Xiaolu), and a recurring interest in what she herself has termed "the history of inequality". As a child, Hao was inspired to become a scientist by reading the educational magazine Shiwan ge Weishenme ["100,000 Whys"] (see Ye Yonglie). After undergraduate study in Physics, she gained her doctorate in Economics and Management in 2013 from Tsinghua University, Beijing, and worked for the China Research Development Foundation. However, despite her protests that writing was only a diversion from her career improving the quality of life in outlying Chinese provinces, her success in fiction was already arguably more established – she won a national composition prize in 2002, and was nominated for a readers' Yinhe Award for her story "Zumu-jia de Xiatian" ["Summer at Grandma's House"] (2007 Kehuan Shijie; trans Carmen Yiling Yan, December 2015 Clarkesworld).

The Near-Future city of her Hugo-winning novelette "Beijing Zhedie" ["Folding Beijing"] (2014 venue unknown, trans Ken Liu January/February 2015 Uncanny Magazine) seems at first little different to today's, although the prices of food are soon revealed to be ten times those in our own world, and the Seventh Ring Road, only in the planning stages at the time of publication, is fully operational. Hao's Beijing is a place where only the elite can afford to be free of pollution, congestion and Overpopulation. Lesser orders must subsist in a Wainscot Society that literally folds in and out of the city at pre-ordained times, with only a partial claim on thinning resources and comforts; class stratification runs so deep that it has effectively created a divergence in races. Where Ma Boyong or Han Song might have portrayed such conditions as a matter of dissent or complaint, Hao's characters accept them with a shrug while they occupy themselves with more pressing, personal matters.

Hao's novels, as yet untranslated, similarly consider insurmountable social disparities. Liulang Maesi ["Wandering Maerth"] (2012) posits a world in which beautiful dreams can manifest as collectable crystals, creating an economy of dreamers and Dream Hacking, but also a disruption between those who live in the real world, and those who escape from it in a soporific daze. Huidao Karong ["Returning to Charon"] (2013) deals with the likely impact upon a group of teenagers in 2150, returning to their native Mars after five years on Earth, thereby allegorizing the Time Abyss between childhood and adulthood.

Despite the Dystopian undertones of the title for Western readers (see George Orwell), her "non-autobiographical autobiography" Shengyu 1984 ["Born in 1984"] (2016) draws on the literary inheritance of the Chinese "science popularizers" of the post-Mao era, implying that Hao's generation is the living embodiment of the heroes imagined in such stories as Xiao Lingtong Manyou Weilai ["Little Know-it-all Roams the Future"] (1978). Playing upon Le cittá invisibili (1972 trans William Weaver as Invisible Cities 1974) of Italo Calvino, itself a tale set in Beijing, Hao's "Kanbujian de Xingqiu" ["Invisible Planets"] (date and venue unknown, trans Ken Liu December 2013 Lightspeed Magazine) is a series of tall tales about diverse life-forms, many of them emblematic of the matter of Beijing, just as Calvino's Marco Polo ultimately only described his native Venice. It appeared in, and lent its name to Ken Liu's Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation (2016 anth), thereby sealing Hao's role as an icon and standard-bearer of Chinese sf in the West. [JonC]

Hao Jing-fang

born Tianjin, China: 27 July 1984

died

works (selected)

  • Liulang Maesi ["Wandering Maerth"] (Beijing: Xinxing Chubanshe, 2012) [pb/]
  • Huidao Karong ["Returning to Charon"] (Beijing: Xinxing Chubanshe, 2013) [pb/]
  • Shengyu 1984 ["Born in 1984"] (Beijing: Dianzi Gongye Chubanshe, 2016) [pb/]

collections

  • Xingluren ["Space Travellers"] (Beijing: Qinghua Daxue Chubanshe, 2011) [coll: pb/]
  • Gudu Shenchu ["The Lonely Depths"] (Nanjing: Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House, 2016) [coll: pb/]
  • Qu Yuanfang ["Go the Distance"] (Nanjing: Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House, 2016) [coll: pb/]

nonfiction

  • Shiguangli de Ouzhou ["Europe in Time"] (Beijing: Zhongguo Huaqiao Chubanshe, 2012) [nonfiction: pb/]

links

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