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Wang Jinkang

(1948-    ) Chinese author, engineer and multiple Yinhe Award winner, arguably the most overlooked figure in the genre in China, inexplicably overshadowed in translation by both his seniors and juniors, despite massive appeal among his home readership. Graduating from high school at the time of the commencement of the Cultural Revolution (1966), he spent several years in a countryside commune, before being sent to work in an iron foundry and a diesel engine plant. This experience seemingly stood him in good stead when the political situation shifted, affording him access to Xi'an Jiaotong University in 1978. He subsequently became a leading petroleum engineer in the Nanyang oilfields, publishing his first story, "Yadang Huigui" ["Adam's Regression"] (May 1993 Kehuan Shijie) aged forty-four. This led to an unprecedented run of successes in Chinese sf awards, across a field of some forty short stories and half a dozen novels.

Much of Wang's work revolves around issues in ethics or Biology. "Bao" ["Leopard"] (June-July 1998 Kehuan Shijie) combines the two with an athlete's agreement with his sponsors that their payment to him will incrementally increase if he qualifies, wins, or breaks a record. He smashes the world sprint record, but soon creates a scandal when he is caught raping a fan – he has been doped with leopard genes, which are transforming him in unexpected ways (see also The Fly). Similarly, his "Zhuansheng de Juren" (December 2005 Kehuan Shijie trans Carlos Rojas as "The Reincarnated Giant" November 2012 Renditions) playfully inverts the concerns of Isaac Asimov's The Bicentennial Man (coll 1976), as an eccentric millionaire fights for his legal right to continue to be defined as his original self, even as his body is replaced piecemeal by Bionics and bio-engineering.

Wang also seems engaged with the matter of America, in a number of tales that would not be out of place in Anglophone Dystopias. "Qi Zhong Waike" ["Seven Layers"] (July 1997 Kehuan Shijie) explores the realm of Virtual Reality, with an awestruck Chinese visitor who experiences seven simulation levels of exciting American life, only to leave for home fretting that this, too, is another illusion. "Lagelangri Muchang" ["Lagrange Graveyard"] (January 1997 Kehuan Shijie) is a parable on the disposal of nuclear Weapons, in which an earthquake reveals a secret project to dump decommissioned missiles Underground. Fearing global reprisals for violating an earlier disarmament agreement, the US government initiate a scheme to fling the offending items into space, only for terrorists to hear of the rich pickings awaiting at the remote site. He returned to the subject of terrorism, or rather to hubris, in Shizi ["The Cross"] (2009), in which fanatics release a "12th September" biological weapon that wipes out the US population, although the Disaster soon goes global.

Wang revisited his personal experiences of the Cultural Revolution with Yi Sheng ["Ant Life"] (2007), in which an exiled Scientist takes advantage of his enforced rustication to perfect an "Altruism serum" that he has extracted from ants. Injected into a human population, it is supposed to lead to Utopia, although as in the real world, Politics causes the leaders of his ideal society to drag it into anarchy. Wang experimented with the ultimate Shaggy God Story in Yuwu Tongzai ["We, Together"] (2011), a sprawling epic telling the story of God himself, revealed as an Alien whose aeons hiding out on Earth are brought to an abrupt end by the arrival of the long-awaited Adversary from His homeworld. [JonC]

Wang Jinkang

born Nanyang, China: 24 November 1948

works (selected)

about the author


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 22:09 pm on 25 May 2024.