Life on the Red Planet


Chinese Science Fiction Author Hao Jingfang on her latest novel «Stray Skies»

Mars, Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars, Dec. 11, 2018, recorded by NASA's InSight / © NASA/JPL-Caltech

2190: it has been 40 years now since the Earth and its former colony on Mars have ended their war. The relations are tense still and life on the two planets differ significantly: overindulgence vs. order and safety, chaos and creativity vs. clinical precision, market vs. state-directed economy.

The young Chinese science fiction author Hao Jingfang has made it her specialty to create fictional landscapes from social and political differences. In her novel «Stray Skies» the systemic rivalry of two planets plays out along the journey of a young woman, heading back from Earth to her birth place Mars. And in her award-winning novelette «Folding Beijing» a waste processing worker climbs the literal social ladders and tunnels of the future city split in three to deliver a message.

Hao will read short passages from «Stray Skies» and talk with Philipp Theisohn about science fiction, its role in today’s China, and her professional background in physics and economics.


Hao Jingfang
© Lv Haiqiang

Hao Jingfang was born in 1984, graduated in physics and gained her PhD in economics at Tsinghua University in 2013. She has been working since with the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), where she acts as Deputy Director of Research Department I. For the novelette «Folding Beijing» Hao was awarded with the Hugo Award in 2016 as the first Chinese woman to win the price considered the Pulitzer for sci-fi. Her novel «Stray Skies» has been published in German last year under the title «Wandernde Himmel», the English edition, translated by Ken Liu, is to follow soon. Hao is also the founder of Tongxing Academy, a charity to provide education to poor children in remote mountainous areas. The foundation’s program teaches science, technology, and arts, to provide them with creative skills for the future to come. 


Philipp Theisohn
© Ayse Yavas

Philipp Theisohn was born in 1974, graduated in literature and philosophy and gained his PhD at the University of Tübingen in 2004. In 2012 he published a book on the history of the literary oracle, exploring the tradition of future writing from the 15th century to today. Among other topics, science fiction has become one of his fields of research: Since 2013, he has been leadingthe Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)-project «Conditio Extraterrestris» that analyzed the inhabited universe as a realm of literary imagination and communcication. Starting July 2019, he will hold a chair for modern German literature at the German department, University of Zurich. 

Event Details

Tue 18 Jun 2019
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Amboss Garage
Zollstrasse 80
8005 Zurich

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