The Future of China

Recently I had dinner with two Tsinghua students I advise.

ME Do you know what “science fiction” is?


ME I have an idea for a science-fiction story. Five years from now, Tsinghua and Beida [Beijing University] students get together and decide to change the government. What do you think?

They were amused by this idea. However, here’s what they said:

BOTH OF THEM Where’s the science?

I explained that science fiction often takes place in the future.


5 Replies to “The Future of China”

  1. In American English (and possibly British English as well), “Science Fiction” has been modified sometime in the last 40 years to include what was originally called “Fantasy”.

    The scenario you described is a fantasy happening in the future. There’s no element of science (that would make it “science fiction”) – I’m with your students on that one.

    Almost every science fiction story has some fantasy, or it wouldn’t be interesting as fiction.

    “Star Wars” is pure fantasy – replace the light saber by magical swords and spaceships by dragons and you’re there. On the other hand, most of Asimov’s stories have a scientific element in them.

    And there are always stories that defy categorization – such as , which some people classify as science fiction, and some as historical fiction although “fiction” is the only descriptive characterization.

  2. That’s a funny point, that Science Fiction is a broad enough genre that it doesn’t always involve anything that has to do with science.

    Also, I might comment more if I got an email when comments were made in response. Is this by design?

  3. Awesome. I would love that. You tend to blog a mixture of things that I strongly agree with, right alongside things I strongly disagree with, and I’d love to freely comment without adding “check that blog post” to my agenda.


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