Han Song’s benighted subjects inhabit multiple ver- sions of the “iron house,” sealed iterations of a suffo- cating social milieu from which there is little hope for escape.1 Like Lu Xun’s 鲁迅 diarist in the 1918 short story “Diary of a Madman” (“Kuangren riji” 狂人日記),2 Han Song’s protagonists are conspiracy theorists compulsive- ly rifling through a hodgepodge of textual, historical, and circumstantial evidence in order to produce accounts of alien invasions, environmental disasters, wormholes, and other human catastrophes that have banished them to their fate.
Han Song predicted the destruction of the Twin Towers a year before 9/11. In his novel “2066: Red Star Over America,” Han, China’s premier science-fiction writer, depicts a disturbing future. It is the year 2066. China rules the world while the U.S. festers in financial decline and civil war. A team has been sent to America to disseminate civilization through the traditional Chinese board game Go. But during the critical Go match held at the World Trade Center, terrorists strike. The seas around New York rise, the Twin Towers crumble and the U.S. is plunged into pandemonium.