Interview: China's new Hugo Award winner draws inspiration from history and traditional culture

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By Xinhua writers Lu Youyi, Yu Li and Ma Yujie

CHENGDU, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Sci-fi writer Hai Ya, China's latest winner in the prestigious Hugo Awards, has found an endless source of inspiration in Chinese history and traditional culture.

For writers growing up in China, the cultural backdrop and societal characteristics of the country have been deeply ingrained in their being, said Hai, who won the Best Novelette for "The Space-Time Painter," a work that drew inspiration from an ancient painting masterpiece "A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains."

Hai excels in crafting historical-themed science fiction, with notable works including "The Flying Guillotine," "The Dragon's Skeleton," and "Fogong Temple Pagoda."

"Our culture and traditions are intimately intertwined with our lives; we merely present them when we create," said Hai, noting that Chinese sci-fi writers are becoming more self-assured in showcasing indigenous culture and narratives.

While science is a global language, the imaginative aspects of science fiction are precious treasures unique to each culture, Hai said.

"In our history and culture, there are universal values that can touch people from all walks of life," he said, adding that integrating traditional culture into science fiction not only allows the world to better understand China but also enables Chinese science fiction to venture onto the global stage.

Hai, who now lives in the southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, juggles a part-time writing career alongside his full-time job in the financial sector. He is the third Chinese science fiction writer to win the Hugo Award.

Hai expressed immense excitement and honor at receiving the award. "I don't believe this is solely about my talent," said Hai. "In the history of science fiction, many authors may have stopped creating new works after publishing one or two outstanding pieces. I feel comparatively fortunate to be able to continue writing in such an era."

Hai's connection with science fiction began as a simple hobby. "Initially, it was just for my own amusement, and I didn't take it too seriously. Around 2018, I truly immersed myself in this world and put my heart into creating."

Hai said there is no direct connection between his job and writing, but noted that his job has taught him discipline and instilled a habit of working with a plan.

"I make an effort to convert the time I would typically spend on my phone or watching short videos into writing time," he said.

Hai said his works have yet to reach overseas audiences, but he is working towards that goal.

"Some of my works have been translated into other languages, and my agent is actively exploring the potential for intellectual property (IP) development," Hai said.

The results of this year's Hugo Awards were announced on Saturday at a formal ceremony at the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The Hugo Awards, first presented in 1953 and presented annually since 1955, are science fiction's most prestigious awards. The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention, which is also responsible for administering them.

The World Science Fiction Convention has taken place annually since 1939 (except during WWII from 1942 to 1945). It is the first time the world's largest and longest-running sci-fi gathering has come to China. Enditem

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