MCLC LIST members may be interested in my stab at comparative literature. It’s a short essay called “China’s Global Strategy as Science Fiction,” published by the London School of Economic’s think-tank, IDEAS.
Xi Jinping is leading China in a new direction, but how are we to understand his global strategy? For most countries, to understand domestic and international politics we would analyse authoritative sources – leaders’ speeches, official documents and statistics, elite interviews and essays, and public opinion surveys. In the 2000s these methods worked well to probe Chinese politics. But since civil society and independent thought have been severely restricted under Xi, it’s necessary to go beyond such “factual” sources. To understand China’s global strategy, it’s best to read fiction, especially Chinese science fiction. This essay critically analyses Liu Cixin’s novels, The Wandering Earth and the Three Body Problem trilogy, to probe how Chinese sci-fi pushes us to think creatively about key topics: the relation of humans and technology, the relation of science and politics, and the relations between political communities, i.e. are we doomed to existential struggle, or can we engage with difference in creative and productive ways?
William A. Callahan