Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.
(1980- ) Chinese author whose narratives walk an entertaining line between fiction and fact, such as Chudian de Diguo ["The Empire of Electric Shocks"] (2012), a nonfiction account of the adoption of the telegraph, published by a university press, which nevertheless has a sensationalist verve and clear-cut parallels with the rise of the modern Internet. Many of his books are presented as fanciful reworkings of History in SF, either in relatively straight form, such as his account of the 1592 Japanese invasion of Korea and subsequent Chinese resistance, Diguo Zuihou de Rongyao ["Last Glory of the Empire"] (2012), or in wilder Fortean speculations (see Charles Fort), such as his use of themes lifted from Eric von Däniken in Yinshang Jiandui Maya Zhengfu Shi ["A History of the Conquest of the Maya by the Shang Fleet"] (2007). However, such references to the past or Alternate History smuggle in political commentary that would otherwise risk censure in contemporary China.
His "New York" in "Jijing zhi Cheng" (May 2005 Kehuan Shijie; rev trans Ken Liu as "The City of Silence" November 2011 World SF) is subject to dust storms, implying it to be a disguised Beijing. However, it could be orientalist and overly hopeful to describe much of Ma's Satire as specifically directed at the People's Republic of China. He depicts an internet dominated by net-nannies so invasive that communication has become a form of Newspeak (see George Orwell), bookmark-only browsers that may be pointed solely at approved sites, and discussion boards where participants must first be screened for ideological concerns, none of which would be out of place in any developed nation's Dystopia. Moreover, his protagonist's quest for genuine human company, and a low-tech means of reviving conversation and entertainment, carries with it shadows of the work of Ray Bradbury or Yevgeny Zamiatin. In his imagery of city streets left largely deserted by a shut-in population, whose privacy is violated with ever-increasing scrutiny by automated monitors, Ma presents a nightmare vision that need not, should not, be confined solely to China. [JonC]
born Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China: 14 December 1980
- Ta Si Zai QQ Shang ["She Died on the QQ Network"] (Hefei: Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, 2006) [pb/]
- Yinshang Jiandui Maya Zhengfu Shi ["A History of the Conquest of the Maya by the Shang Fleet"] (Nanchang: Ershiyi Shiji Chubanshe, 2007) [pb/]
- Bi Zhong Sui Lu ["Record of a Mound of Pens"] (Chongqing: Chongqing Chubanshe, 2009) [binding unknown/]
- Feng Qi Longxi ["The Wind From Longxi"] (Taiyuan: Shaanxi Renmin Chubanshe, 2011) [binding unknown/]
- Diguo Zuihou de Rongyao ["Last Glory of the Empire"] (Taiyuan: Shanxi Renmin Chubanshe, 2012) [pb/]
- Chudian de Diguo ["The Empire of Electric Shocks"] (Hangzhou: Zhejiang Daxue Chubanshe, 2012) with Yan Naichuan [nonfiction: pb/]
- Sanguo Jimi ["Three Kingdoms Confidential"] (Nanjing: Jiangsu Renmin Chubanshe, 2012) [in two volumes: binding unknown/]
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