Rethinking the urban form: overpopulation, resource depletion, and Chinese cities in science fiction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Recent Chinese science fiction (SF) works have offered a critical portrait of Chinese urban cities that are experiencing major environmental effects from both increased population and consumption of resources. Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing centres around a spatially folded Beijing that presents an uneven distribution of not only space and time to its residents, but also clear ecological risks. Elsewhere, Liu Cixin's Moonlight depicts a Shanghai in danger of burning to the ground due to repeated failures in finding sustainable ways to exploit energy resources. This chapter analyses how both stories epitomize Ulrich Beck's conceptualization of “risk society” and Zygmunt Bauman's observation of “liquid modernity,” associating the escalating ecological challenges closely with politically charged definitions of ecological risk, the inequality fostered by different risk positions, as well as the dissolution of boundaries. Combining the discourses of modernity, ecocriticism, and SF, this chapter strives to reveal how Chinese SF has become a crucial genre by which to probe the intricacy of contemporary Chinese society, generating a space in which the definition of the “Chinese Dream” is challenged and the inevitability of radical transformation is underlined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcocriticism and Chinese Literature: Imagined Landscapes and Real Lived Spaces
EditorsRiccardo Moratto, Nicoletta Pesaro, Di-kai Chao
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003212317
ISBN (Print)978-1-032-07971-4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022


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