"The Facecrafter" /《捏脸师》(2017) by Anna Wu / 吴霜
Translated by Emily Jin (2018)
Our reading and meeting for March 2021 Sunday 28th March, 2pm BST, email for Zoom details
We're very pleased to invite Anna Wu to our March videocall session to chat with our readers about her short SF story, "The Facecrafter" /
《捏脸师》(2017) translated from Chinese into English by Emily Jin, 2018.
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"Lost in thought, Ling Bai gazed intently at the tiny plant inside the test tube and muttered. “The ability to navigate between dimensions . . . these great Masters of Art can see the world in a way that we cannot.”
"Ling Xi shut her eyes, only daring to peer again after the blinding light had faded. The long and the feng had both disappeared. The stage was completely empty save for a massive hypercube—the exact one that Ling Xi had saw in the virtual world.
The hypercube disintegrated. From its core, thousands of works of art gradually ascended: paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, literature, and music . . . all of which were the greatest masterpieces of humankind. Bathed in a faint golden halo, the artworks flew toward the audience, dashing past every pair of eyes."
- from "The Facecrafter" by Anna Wu, translated by Emily Jin
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Ling Xi is the underground city's only 'art keeper' in the nuclear winter world. When her art collection suddenly disappears, Ling Xi's experiences in the VR realm also begin to leave her suspicious it is connected to a certain masked avatar, as well as her virtual friend Cang Jie. She consults her brother Ling Bai, to better understand the clues to regain the city's artworks. He is a plant geneticist failing to synthesize the DNA of Purpureus Herba grass, as a survival strategy for humankind, before their underground shelters fail. Together, they attempt to figure how the thief potentially drew dimensions to cross space and time into the virtual storage room.
The artists producing the superstar avatar idols of the VR world are known as the "Facecrafters", earning an incrediable amount of cybercoin. Hun Dun is known as the best of the creators, having produced the “The Zhu Lu Twelve” avatar idol group that envelopes the entertainment industry. Hun Dun's influence is godlike, even under the instruction of the Gods. Angered at humankind's neglect of the art collections underground, as well as their overall toxifying of the earth with radiation, it is unclear whether Hun Dun intends to save or exterminate humanity - until the last performance.
Anna Wu's story is a tapestry of mythology, history of the arts, science and science fiction, in which the course of events threatens to blanket humankind and its creativity under a blanker of darkness forever.
The short story can be found in its original publication in Chinese as《捏脸师》in Anna Wu's own science fiction novella collection, Twins《双生》(2017) (please email for a PDF courtesy of the author), and its English translation by Emily Jin in Issue 145 of Clarkesworld Magazine (October 2019) here
Please read ahead for this month's online video call, but if you don't get a chance to do so, you are still warmly welcome to join in. Share your thoughts and questions, engage with others, and chat with us and Anna Wu about the story in this upcoming session!
Anna Wu (Wu Shuang) is a Chinese science fiction writer, film and TV play writer. Her film script, Cloud and Mist, won the Gold Medal of Originality for the Best Science Fiction Film of the Sixth Nebula Award for Global Chinese Science Fiction. Her works
have been published in magazines, such as Galaxy's Edge and Science Fiction World. As translator, Anna's work includes stories for the science fiction collection, The Shape of Thought, by Ken Liu. Her own science fiction novella collection, Twins was published in June of 2017.
Emily Jin is a translator of science fiction and fantasy, translating Chinese into English and the other way around. She graduated from Wellesley College, Massachusetts in 2017, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literature at Yale University.
She is one of the core members of the Clarkesworld-Storycom collaborative project on publishing English translations of Chinese science fiction.