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Xia Jia

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pen-name of Wang Yao (1984-    ), a Chinese author who trained initially as a physicist, before drifting into the humanities as a postgraduate. Her short stories have attracted critical acclaim from the outset, beginning with her early Yinhe Award recipient "Guan Yaojing de Pingzi" (April 2004 Kehuan Shijie trans Linda Rui Feng as "The Demon-Enslaving Flask" November 2012 Renditions). A work of Fabulation, in which the Scientist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is offered a Faustian challenge by a literal demon, its selection was attended by a spat among critics as to whether it could be called sf at all. The story is mired so deeply in anecdotes from the history of science, and literal interpretations of famous Thought Experiments, that it requires copious footnotes to explain its own jokes (see Infodump). This, however, seems very much in keeping with the classical, didactic tradition in Chinese sf, creating a story whose fantasy elements are mere vectors to convey information about the life and work of Icon figures such as Archimedes, Einstein, Schrodinger and Maxwell himself (see History in SF).

Later work mirrored her personal academic journey from hard science into the creative arts. Her first longer work was the fixup Jiuzhou Nilu ["On the Road"] (coll of linked stories 2009), part of the Jiuzhou shared-universe fantasy series. "Bai Gui Ye Xing Jie" (August 2010 Kehuan Shijie trans Ken Liu as "A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight" February 2012 Clarkesworld) is far subtler and more mature, a child's eye view of life inside what first appears to be a haunted Keep redolent of Chinese ghost stories, but is gradually revealed as a run-down Far Future theme park populated with Cyborg simulacra. [JonC]

Wang Yao

born Xi'an, Shaanxi, China: 1984


collections and stories

  • Jiuzhou Nilu ["Nine Worlds: Tavern"; cover has the English title On the Road: Odyssey of China Fantasy] (Liaoning, China: Wanjuan Chuban, 2009) [coll of linked stories: Jiuzhou: pb/]
  • Guan Yaojing de Pingzi: Xia Jia Kehuan Jiazuo Xuan ["The Demon-Enslaving Flask: Collected Best SF of Xia Jia"] (Chengdu, China: Sichuan Kexue Jishu Chubanshe, 2012) [coll: pb/]
  • A Summer Beyond Your Reach (Stirling, New Jersey: Wyrm Publishing, 2021) [coll: translations by various hands: introduction by Ken Liu: pb/bangqiaoyan]


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