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China's Sci-fi Forerunner Dies at 74
The Chinese forerunner of science fiction, Zheng Wenguang, succumbed to heart disease at the age of 74 in Beijing.

Zheng was a member of the US-based World Science Fiction Association.

Zheng, a native of the southern province of Guangdong, was born in Vietnam in 1929. He came to China in 1947 to study astronomy at Zhongshan University.

In 1954, he published China's first sci-fi short story From Earth to Mars, which established him as China's sci-fi forerunner. The story was about China's first expedition to the mysterious red planet.

During the chaotic "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Zheng was silenced given that sci-fi was regarded as something that could lead people astray.

After reform and opening-up were introduced in the late 1970s, and intellectuals and scientists were respected again, Zheng resumed writing.

In 1979, he published China's first sci-fi novel, entitled Fly to Centaurus, which depicted China's bold exploration of outer space. It is still regarded as an epic.

However, in 1983, Zheng suffered from a stroke which left him paralyzed. From that point on, he spent most of his time in an armchair, writing very few sci-fi stories.

Zheng was a research fellow with the Beijing Astronomical Observatory and a member of the prestigious Chinese Writers' Association.

(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2003)



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