“The Young Companion” and modern China

First published the same year Hugo Gernsback came out with his legendary science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, The Young Companion《良友》catered to the tastes of young middle class people, but it was also a force for social change. This fascinating article (in Big5) talks about 《良友》the “natural breast movement” 「天乳運動」 among young women in the 1920s-30s, and this sohu article (GB) discusses the fashion sense displayed in the pages of the magazine. In this pic you can see that the bobbed, flapper hairstyle we associate with the West was popular in China of the 20s also. The Young Companion is often thought of as product of Shanghai’s hybrid culture, but this article talks about its founding by a Guangdong native, Wu Lian-de (伍聯德).

 

 

 

Identity politics, artistic autonomy, and a disappearing SF Story

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It all began with a silly, transphobic meme [image right]…Then came the story, “I sexually identify as an Attack Helicopter,” which first appeared in Clarkesworld (Jan 2020 issue), but caused a huff among certain hypersensitive readers who claimed it was insincere, … Continue reading

Chinese SF authors and the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign (ASPC)

Both Ye Yonglie (葉永烈) and Zheng Wenguang (鄭文光) were “struggled” during the ASPC of the 1980s. Zheng was a Vietnamese astronomer and emigre SF author of “Pacific Ocean Man” 《太平洋人》 and Mirror Image of the Earth 《地球的鏡像》– the latter of which is about aliens who have developed an interest in the Cultural Revolution. Meanwhile Ye was singled out for ridicule in the official press for promoting “quack science,” and later condemned for writing a story in which AIDS has reached China.* In addition to Ye and Zheng, the archaeologist Tong Enzheng (童恩正)wrote very popular SF works and ran afoul of the authorities–only in Tong’s case it was a few years later, when he supported the students during the June 4th 1989 protests. Tong was a truly fascinating scholar and made a definitive contribution to Chinese SF with his highly influential personal essay “My Views on the Art of Science Fiction” (1979): 「我對科幻文藝的看法」 *

References:
*Hussman, Mikael.“Hesitant Journey to the West: SF’s Changing Fortunes in Mainland China.” Science Fiction Studies, Volume 27, #80, Pt 1 (March 2000).
* Ed. Chinese Pen. 「中国科幻为何在80年代陨落?

Chen Qiufan Links / 网路上的陈楸帆 (ongoing)

Just some Chen links that are worth noting:

 

Note: I’ll continue to update this as time permits.

“Competitive Wokeness” and Taylor Swift

Didn’t quite get it when I saw this Onion tweet:

But a conservative from the The Atlantic clarifies that “Taylor Swift Succumbs to Competitive Wokeness” (Oct 11, 2018). There he explains:

“I get the sense that the most aggressively “woke” young people are precisely those who find themselves in the most fiercely competitive environments. Status and prestige matter to everyone, of course, but they matter to some more than others. Most of all, they matter to those who find themselves in precarious industries where one’s reputation counts for a great deal and, just as important, to lonely, unattached people who long to feel valued and desired. Delayed marriage and child-rearing ensure that many more young people spend many more years in the mating market and, by extension, orienting their lives around fulfilling their own social and sexual appetites over the care and feeding of children. This is especially true among children of the culturally powerful upper middle class, who’ve been trained to fear downward mobility in a stratified society as much as our primitive ancestors feared being devoured by toothy predators. The result is what you might call a culture of “competitive wokeness.”

Basically: “liberal elites” are convincing young people that they need to be loonie lefties and this is generating a ‘competitive wokeness’ that makes celebrities want to show off how socially progressive they are….Hmm, right. The Onion said it more persuasively with one headline, but it did so in a way that proves the Atlantic guy is wrong: so-called liberals are sensitive to pseduo-wokeness too. “Competitive wokeness” is a rightwing red herring.