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(1987- ) Chinese author, a master's graduate from the Beijing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics whose success was greatly augmented after his debut novel Bai Hu Dila yu Yueliang Shi ["Dilah and the Moonstone"] (2014; trans Jennifer Feeley as White Fox 2019) was recommended by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television as one of "100 Excellent Books" for young readers in 2015, and made a compulsory text in some Shanghai primary schools a year later. Inverting the oriental exoticism of many a European fantasy of Asia, the story concerns a sentient Arctic fox, searching northern Finland for the McGuffin that will locate its lost family. The location it imagines, however, is a realm of clashing myths and animist spirits, giant rabbits and bear gods amid the ruins of a Lost World animal kingdom, the fall of which in ancient times forms part of the ongoing mystery.
Published amid a Chinese Media Landscape obsessed with President Xi Jinping's notion of a manifest, forward-thinking "China Dream" ["Zhongguo Meng"], Chen's later Dream Maker series posits Dream Hacking professionals tasked with guiding the dreams of others in the correct direction, providing entertainment and insight while also shielding them from dark and corrupting forces. These are later revealed as agents of the "Shadow Empire", the red crystal of which has the power to stunt human imagination. Clothing his heroine Qiqi in the costume of Sun Wukong, the trickster Monkey King of Chinese legend, Chen presents childlike innocence as a pure and contented condition, eroded by the unwelcome onset of adult realities and concerns. In a Buddhist touch (see Religion), the antagonist Shadow Emperor is formed by the accretion of human desires, suggesting a range of possible subtextual interpretations about the state of mankind in twenty-first-century China. In a cheeky moment of Recursive SF, Chen's heroine is shown reading her favorite book, his earlier tale of Dilah the Arctic fox.
The Checklist below lists Dream Maker as a series, although all four parts were released simultaneously, hence suggesting it is better parsed as a single novel in several parts. Conversely, his previous book is listed as a single title, although foreign publicity suggests either a forthcoming sequel, «Dilah and the Wheel of Reincarnation», or that it will be split into a two-part "series" for Anglophone publication. [JonC]
born Shandong, China: 17 February 1987
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 15:39 pm on 6 December 2021.