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Rao Zhonghua

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1933-2010) Chinese author and editor at the Shanghai Science and Technology Publishing House, in which capacity he edited journals on metallurgy and, the million-selling Kexue Huabao ["Science Pictorial"] from 1972-1986. A great popularizer of science, in the mode of a Chinese Isaac Asimov, he also wrote many book reviews that helped to push and define the sf genre in China. He played a key role in the flowering of Chinese sf in the early 1980s as editor of the magazine Kehuan Haiyang ["SF Ocean"]. His Zhongguo Kexue Xiaoshuo Daquan ["Compendium of Chinese Science Fiction"] (anth 1982 3vols) is a cornerstone of Chinese sf history, and remains a valuable collection of genre materials covering the period 1905-1980.

Rao mainly wrote didactic Children's SF, regarded in China as the natural, State-approved paradigm for the genre, although many of his works display a subversive, cynical quality more appropriate to the New Wave. Some take the form of cautionary tales, such as Shijian Yinhang ["Time Bank"] (2001), in which overworked students are offered a Faustian remedy to store up their wasted hours for later use. Rao's work often seems to suggest a subtle counterpoint to the traditional Edisonade of sf as reformulated in the People's Republic, and even risks censure by making science itself the cause of many a hero's problems. Yuzhou Bingdu ["Space Poison"] (2001) begins with humanity successfully destroying a rogue planet on a collision course with Earth, only to create a new threat in the form of plague-bearing meteor showers. Similarly, Lanhua Mizong ["Bewitching Orchid Blossoms"] (2001), posits the Genetic Engineering of flowers that can survive in space, which then escape from their lab to threaten life on Earth. NB: the cluster of early twenty-first century publishing dates for Rao's fiction suggests that they are reprints of earlier volumes undocumented in currently available sources, likely to have been serialized in one of Rao's own magazines some years beforehand. [JonC]

Rao Zhonghua

born Jiangsu, China: January 1933

died Shanghai, China: 18 May 2010

works (selected)

  • Shijian Yinhang ["Time Bank"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Yuzhou Bingdu ["Space Poison"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Jiqi Tejing ["Robot Cop"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Jianmeng Qiyuan ["Alternate Fates"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Wangluo Diguo ["Net Empire"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Lanhua Mizong ["Bewitching Orchid Blossoms"] (Beijing: Kexue Puxi Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]
  • Jiqing Kexue ["Transmitting Science"] (Shanghai: Keji Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 2001) [pb/]

works as editor (fiction and nonfiction)


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