London Chinese Science Fiction Group

LCSFG is a community for people interested in Chinese language science and speculative fiction (SF).

"On Miluo River" /《汨罗江上》(2008)by Xia Jia / 夏笳
Translated by Emily Jin (2020)

Our reading and meeting for July 2021

Sunday 1st August, 2pm BST, email for Zoom details

Story Summary

"“G-56 shook her head. “The whole exam process is controlled with precision. We take a snippet out of history the same way we make a copy of a part of a music tape; since this is only a copy, we can use it as many times as we want without affecting the original version.”
“Even if there’s no influence to actual history, you can’t really mess around, can you?” Bo Yang stared at the misty water out the window. ”

* * *

“The T-mail you are reading right now comes from the year of 2077, from the trembling hands of a ninety-year-old woman. This is how I’ve been corresponding with you since last August, for almost a whole year. Six T-mails and a clumsy work of science fiction: they are like the thread of a spider, thin yet strong, connecting two different points in time.”

- from "On Miluo River" /《汨罗江上》(2008)by Xia Jia / 夏笳
Translated by Emily Jin (2020)

* * *

"On Miluo River" is a fictional exchange of 'T-mail' messages in 2006 and 2007 between an unnamed young emerging writer and author Mr. Xiaoding, who she admires. While sharing thoughts on the changing seasons and receiving his writing encouragements, the protagonist also attaches files of the working draft of her story titled "On Miluo River" throughout the exchange for his feedback. It is a historical fiction that questions the porousness of fixed timelines, through the character Bo Yang's time travel quests for an examination. Yet there is further twist in timeline activities conducted by the protagonist author herself. How plentiful is time, if it can be changed?

In the author's note, Xia Jia shares that the characters are inspired by, and pay homage to, the SF stories Patient 2047-9 (Science Fiction World, April 2000) and A Strip of Sky (Science Fiction World, August 2000)” by the late author Liu Wenyang 柳文扬, to whom this story is dedicated. Known by his penname Xiaoding, science fiction writer Liu Wenyang passed away in 2007 at the age of 37. Xia Jia's On Miluo River lifts from her own diary entries, words unspoken and hopes into the future, as a thoughful remembrance of the author.

* * *

You may find it in its English translation by Emily Jin here in "A Summer Beyond Your Reach" (2020), on Clarkesworld Books, a new translation imprint by Clarkesworld Magazine / Wyrm Publishing. It is Xia Jia's first collection of English translated stories, and was crowdfunded by the publisher and 1063 loyal readers, totaling US$34,000. It was officially published earlier this year, and delivers 14 short SF stories by Xia Jia, half of which are newly commissioned translations of her works. The original Chinese version 《汨罗江上》(2008)is available here.

The LCSFG have previously read and discussed two works by Xia Jia, "The Psychology Game" /《心理游戏》(2015) (for our July 2019 session) and "Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy" / 《2044年春节旧事》(2014) (January 2020)

illustration of a blue landscape with a broken rover with a flower growing from it. Text reads A Summer Beyond Your Reach: Stories by Xia Jia

The author

Xia Jia (aka Wang Yao) is Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Xi’an Jiaotong University and has been publishing speculative fiction since college. She is a seven-time winner of the Galaxy Award, China's most prestigious science fiction award and has published three science fiction collections (in Chinese): The Demon-Enslaving Flask (2012), A Time Beyond Your Reach (2017), and Xi'an City Is Falling Down (2018). Her first English language short story collection, A Summer Beyond Your Reach, will be the first book published by Clarkesworld Books. She's also engaged in other science fiction related works, including academic research, translation, screenwriting, and teaching creative writing.

The translator

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.