In North America, it’s become almost a cliché in science fiction to turn Japan and Korea into superpowers of the future. From William Gibson’s first cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (now a movie), we are bombarded with images of a hyper-futuristic world dominated culturally and economically by these Asian countries. And yet, despite intense political debates (and fearmongering) over China’s growing hold over the U.S., we rarely see science fiction stories that depict it becoming a superpower. It’s like we’re afraid to imagine in fiction what the U.S. presidential candidates argued over repeatedly in their debates. Even the remake of Red Dawn shies away from a Chinese future; the movie was about a Chinese invasion, but that detail was changed in post-production to North Korea.
Still, there are stories like Looper and Maureen McHugh’s novel China Mountain Zhang that are set in a future where China has eclipsed the West. A few themes emerge from stories like these, where most U.S. and Canadian fiction fears to go. Continue reading