Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ming Pao Daily News article about The Dragon and the Stars: English Translation

Two Chinese Canadian Writers and Overseas Compatriots Together in Chinese Science Fiction Book

By Wendy Yang

Published in Ming Pao Daily News, Toronto edition, February 8, 2010, p. A2

Overseas Chinese writers are numerous, but those writing science fiction are few. Two Chinese Canadian science fiction writers, with overseas Chinese writers in different countries, have created a book of 18 science fiction and fantasy short stories, to be released on May 11. This will be North America's first all-overseas-Chinese anthology of science fiction and fantasy.

The anthology, called The Dragon and the Stars, will be published by well-known American science fiction publisher DAW Books. It contains 18 short stories from Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore. The 18 Chinese authors wrote their stories in English over six months. Five of the authors are from Canada, and they are strong in Canadian sci-fi circles.

Tony Pi was born in Taipei, immigrated to Canada when he was 8 years old, and grew up in Toronto. He earned his Ph.D. in linguistics at Montreal's McGill University and has worked at several universities in Canada. At present, he is administering the graduate program in Cinema Studies at University of Toronto.

For the new book, he wrote the fantasy story "The Character of the Hound". The story centers on a war between the Southern Song and Jin. The ghost of a soldier adopts the word "Dog" as a tattoo on his body and acquires super powers to solve a murder in the army.

Tony Pi likes science fiction, in particular, Japanese manga (comics). "I like to use imagination to explore the present and the past and things that do not exist in the world. I like to create." In 2006, he wrote his first story, "The Stone Cipher", which won second place in the first quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, an international competition that finds cutting-edge science fiction writers. So far he has published 20 short stories, each of about 4,000 words.

Derwin Mak is another Chinese science fiction writer. He was born in Peterborough, Ontario. His father is from Hong Kong, and his mother is Malaysian Chinese. He is a chartered accountant, a member of Royal Canadian Military Institute, and a lecturer at the Institute.

He wrote "The Polar Bear Carries the Mail", about a Chinese company that joins with Inuit in northern Canada to build a spaceport but are opposed by environmentalists.
The main character is a Chinese astronaut, and the story involves feng shui problems.

Derwin Mak began writing science fiction in 2001. His 2005 story "Transubstantiation" won the Prix Aurora Award, Canada's national science fiction award, equivalent to the United States' Hugo Award.

He said the new book is significant in correcting the past image of Chinese people and their culture in science fiction, which has been often negative. "The stories in The Dragon and the Stars all have Chinese themes, and many have ethnic Chinese main characters. Chinese culture is 5,000 years old, there are four great inventions of China, and Chinese history is full of scientific and technological development. This is a rich basis for science fiction and should be reflected in current stories."

There are another three Chinese Canadian science fiction writers: Eric Choi, Melissa J. Yuan-Innes, and Elaine Chen. Eric Choi's first story, "Dedication", was published in 1994, making him the first Chinese Canadian science fiction writer.

Derwin Mak says that overseas Chinese are now writing science fiction because North American tastes are changing. First, North Americans are more accepting of Asian culture, such as Japanese manga (comics) and Chinese martial arts movies. Secondly, North American society has become more diverse and inclusive of ethnic minorities in popular culture and creative fields, resulting in the emergence of Canadian Chinese science fiction writers.

Addendum to the English translation:

Eric Choi is co-editor of The Dragon and the Stars. His story "Dedication" won the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing (now called the Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing).

The original Chinese text refers to The Dragon and the Stars as a science fiction anthology, but it also contains fantasy stories.

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