Tianxia Bachang

Tagged: Author

Writing name of Zhang Muye (1978-    ), a Chinese author working in the finance sector after graduating with a diploma in painting from the Nanjing Academy of Fine Arts. He is known largely for the Gui Chui Deng ["Ghosts Blow Out the Light"] series, which takes its name from a Chinese proverb, appropriated by the author as a grave-robbers' maxim (see Crime and Punishment). By 2010, the franchise had made him China's tenth wealthiest writer.

In Tianxia's stories, beginning with Jingjue Gucheng ["The Wondrous Ancient City"] (2006 ebook), grave-robbing has been a noble art since the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 CE), during which a desperate ruler authorized the appropriation of treasures from ancient tombs in order to buy food for his starving subjects. State-approved thieves, the mojin xiaowei ["captain touchers of gold"] would light a candle in the south-west corner of any grave they entered, agreeing to leave immediately if the spirits of the dead snuffed it out – the implication being that there would be no harm and no foul if the spirits proved to be non-existent. Such a premise presented a complex dilemma for the author, positing a materialist, no-nonsense approach to "using the past to serve the present", but risking censure for its possible allusion to Magic, regarded as an illegal superstition in the People's Republic (see Huang Yi). Consequently, there is a marked difference between the original online samizdat publications of the stories and their later appearance in print, which interpolated mitigating explanations for all supernatural phenomena, suggesting that any Zombie infestations, spirit hauntings and demonic assaults (see Gods and Demons) experienced by the characters were, for example, mere dreams or the result of poisoning by noxious tomb vapours.

Not unlike He Ma's Tibet Code, with which it shares a tone and attitude, the Gui Chui Deng series also functions as a travelogue, including relatively modern elements from World War Two such as the Hump airlift in Yunnan Chonggu ["Yunnan's Valley of the Worms"] (2006) and Japan's invasion of north-east China in Huangpi Zifen ["The Map on Yellow Skin"] (2007). There is a certain exuberance in the epic span afforded by China's history and geography, incorporating everything from the South Seas to the Central Asian desert. The sequence is also a period piece, set around the turn of the 1990s, seemingly in order to allow the characters a connection to the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s, when so much of the old China was destroyed by Mao's Red Guards. One flashback set in the wilderness of Inner Mongolia neatly contrasts the genuine respect and reverence for antiquities of the "robbers" with the wanton destructive impulses of the young Chinese who are simply determined to smash the "Four Olds": customs, culture, habits and ideas.

Such equivocations permitted the franchise to make the jump into feature films. The eight volumes of the original novels were condensed, somewhat chaotically, into two films: Jiuceng Yaota ["Nine-Storey Phantom Tower"] (2015; vt Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe) and Xun Long Jue ["Search for the Dragon Secret"] (2015; vt Mojin: The Lost Legend). Tianxia sued the producers and director of the first over liberties taken with his original. [JonC]

Zhang Muye

born Tianjin, China: 25 September 1978

died

works

series

Gui Chui Deng

  • Jingjue Gucheng ["The Wondrous Ancient City"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2006) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Longling Miku ["The Secret Cave on Dragon Ridge"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2006) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Yunnan Chonggu ["Yunnan's Valley of the Worms"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2006) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Kunlun Shen'gong ["The Shrine of Kunlun"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2006) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Huangpi Zifen ["The Map on Yellow Skin"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2007) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Nanhai Guixu ["The Ruins in the South Sea"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2007) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Nuqing Xiangxi ["The Wrath of Xiangxi"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2007) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]
  • Wuxia Guanshan ["The Haunted Gorge at Coffin Mountain"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2008) [Gui Chui Deng: binding unknown/]

Mizong zhi Guo

  • Wuyin Zhanpo ["Champa Wreathed in Mist"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2009) [Mizong zhi Guo: binding unknown/]
  • Loulan Yao'er ["The Phantom Ear of Loulan"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2009) [Mizong zhi Guo: binding unknown/]
  • Shennong Tiangui ["The Heavenly Chest of Shennong"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2010) [Mizong zhi Guo: binding unknown/]
  • Youqian Zhongquan ["The Mystery of the Sunken Spring"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2011) [Mizong zhi Guo: binding unknown/]

individual works (selected)

  • Xiongzhai Menggui ["Ghost in the Haunted House"] (Beijing: Zuojia Chubanshe, 2012) [ebook: binding unknown/]
  • Wo de Linju shi Yaoguai ["My Neighbour is a Monster"] (Changsha: Hunan Renmin Chubanshe, 2012) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • He Shen ["River God"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2013) [binding unknown/]
  • Gui Bu Yu ["Devils Do Not Speak"] (Changsha: Hunan Renmin Chubanshe, 2014) [binding unknown/]
  • Wuzhong Shenjing ["The Neverending Wonderland"] (Changsha: Hunan Renmin Chubanshe, 2014) [binding unknown/]
  • Mojin Xiaowei zhi Jiuyou Jiangjun ["Nine-Phantom General of the Captain Touchers of Gold"] (Qingdao: Qunyan Press, 2014) [binding unknown/]

links

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