London Chinese Science Fiction Group

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

Cat’s Chance in Hell / 《九死一生》by Nian Yu / 念语
Translated by Xueting Christine Ni / 倪雪婷 (2021)

Our reading and meeting for November 2021

Sunday 28th November, 2pm GMT, email for Zoom details

Story Summary

We're very pleased to invite both Nian Yu and Xueting Christine Ni to our videocall session to chat with our readers about the short SF story and anthology.

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"I can make it through". Joe tells himself. But Joe’s been heavily wounded, and the armour that prevents infrared and ultra-sound detection is also heavily damaged, with cold air pouring through its tears and punctures. Cooling agent is leaking, and pretty soon, his body temperature will set off an alarm. The mission was done, but Joe still wants to survive. For Eirene. He takes a deep breath. If he moves forwards, he might live, by a cat’s chancein hell. If he stops, he’ll be dead for sure.

---from Cat’s Chance in Hell / 《九死一生》by Nian Yu 念语
Translated by Xueting Christine Ni 倪雪婷 (2021)

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Battling nature-mimicking droids and outsmarting laser beams blasts in order to retreat to his squadron's station, notable soldier Joe fights for his life to ensure his farewell to his daughter before this war was not his last. The robot war shootout is dispersed with recollections of loving memories between the parent and child, who contemplate their human existence alongside robots.

But what if these memories are not Joe's to have? Nor the next Joe's, or the next...? Love, conflict and rights to win over both become the central topics in this piece that lends to the wider debates on cloning technologies and what constitutes humanity.

Cat’s Chance in Hell / 《九死一生》by Nian Yu 念语 can be found in Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction / Sinopticon与科幻的中国叙事 is a new collection of 13 short stories curated and translated by critically acclaimed writer and essayist Xueting Christine Ni. The anthology is a much anticipated selection of sf that gives an insight to Chinese science fiction since the late 20th century, and all appear in English for the first time here. Xueting Christine Ni also gives brilliant reflections that follow each story in the book. The authors include some previous guests of the LCSFG's too! It was published in earlier this month on Solaris and availabile through Rebellion here.

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Reading ahead of the session is recommended but not a must, if you have any access requirements to the text, please let us know by email. You are welcome to join in the conversation on Sunday as simply a listener or comment / ask Nian Yu and Xueting Ni about the story or anthology. We look forward to sharing with you then!

bookcover of Sinopticon showing an illustration of blue green city scape with futuristic planes with a man on a balcony and a girl playing in the water below

The author

A graduate of Shanghai Jiaotong University of Communications, Nian Yu is a contracted Storycom writer, and a self-proclaimed post-95 avant-garde sci-fi author. Ever since her debut Wild Fire, she has been exploring the fantasy imagination, not only creating sci-fi, but fantasy and fairy tales, publishing many pieces in Science Fiction World and Sci-Fi Gin—Youth Edition. She won the New Author Silver Award at the 7th Xingyun and has published a short fiction collection, Lilian is Everywhere.

The translator and editor

Xueting Christine Ni has written extensively on Chinese culture and China’s place in Western pop media for over a decade. She has worked with companies, theatres, institutions and festivals to help improve understanding of China’s heritage, culture and innovation, and introduce its wonders to new audiences. Xueting has contributed to the BBC, Tordotcom Publishing, and the Guangdong Art Academy. Her first book, From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao, is published by Weiser Books. Her new anthology Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction was published in November 2021.