Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin on writing science fiction

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Chinese author Liu Cixin has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel on Aug 23. [File photo]

Chinese author Liu Cixin has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel on Aug 23. [File photo]

Imagination is one of the core elements for writing science fiction, said Chinese writer Liu Cixin as he recounted the writing process of his award-winning novel, The Three-Body Problem.

Liu became the first Asian author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, when his novel, The Three-Body Problem, or Santi, was announced as the winner for this year's award for best science fiction or fantasy achievement.

The creation process for Santi was no different from his other works, and was written after the story was well developed in his mind, Liu said in an interview with

"I like to think hard about the content of the novel, both its outline and the details," the author said.

While working out the plot of a novel, Liu said that he prefers walking and usually walks past several hours.

As Liu recalled, the conception of the novel was slow, but the actual writing was done quickly. It took him almost four years to complete the Santi trilogy, and most of the time was spent thinking up the concept and story. When he actually began writing, each book was finished in two or three months.

"As a science fiction author, I usually get lost in my wild and fanciful thoughts. Many ideas are not generated in a sudden flash. However, they are like plants, growing slowly. When the time comes, they naturally come into view," he said.

Liu gives an example of a weapon that can destroy a whole world is created through reducing spatial dimensions: the idea was in his mind long before, but was only used when writing The Three-Body Problem.

Meanwhile, reading widely is the cornerstone of creation, Liu emphasized. The first science fiction he read was French novelist Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, a book his father had. Liu said he took great pleasure in reading this book and felt like the novel was especially written for him.

Thereafter, Liu read a lot of science fiction. He recalled they brought meaning to his humdrum life.

As for future creations, Liu has his own worries that new technology may be making his science fiction ideas obsolete. When the advancement of science goes beyond science fiction, the sense of mystery from science then disappears.

"For science fiction authors, it's more than a sense of crisis; it is the end of the world. When the future breathes down your neck, you cannot get rid of it. Then, what can you write?" Liu asked.

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