Kexue Xiaoshuo Science Fiction in the Contact Zone

Main Article Content

Yizhi Xiao


This article advocates reading kexue xiaoshuo (science novels) as a contact genre embodying a unique subjectivity emerging out of late Qing China’s interactions with the world. Taking its cue from Mary Louise Pratt’s (1948- ) concept of the ‘contact zone,’ this article adopts a contact approach to recount kexue xiaoshuo’s genesis by underscoring an unlikely combination of science and fantasy as interaction and improvisation found in the contact zone. Extrapolating from fictional texts such as New Story of the Stone to the shifting epistemological landscape in late Qing reading culture, this article presents kexue xiaoshuo as a cultural formation like Pidgin English, which records traces of contention between autochthonous and Western intellectual traditions.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Xiao, Y. “Kexue Xiaoshuo: Science Fiction in the Contact Zone”. Literature and Modern China, vol. 3, no. 1, June 2024, doi:10.54591/SDJU3291.


Bao Tianxiao. “Zhu shen da huiyi (The Grand Parliament of the Gods). ” Yueyue xiaoshuo, no. 12, 1907, pp. 39-45. The Late Qing Dynasty Periodical Full-text Database (1833~1911), Accessed 3 Feb 2023.

———. “Zhu shen da huiyi xu (The Grand Parliament of the Gods). ” Yueyue xiaoshuo, no. 13, 1907, pp. 1-6. The Late Qing Dynasty Periodical Full-text Database (1833~1911). late-qing-dynasty-periodical-database. Accessed 3 Feb 2023.

Biggerstaff, Knight. “Shanghai Polytechnic Institution and Reading Room: An Attempt to Introduce Western Science and Technology to the Chinese.” Pacific Historical Review, vol. 25, no. 2, 2001, pp. 127-49. DOI:

Duan Huaiqing. Chuanjiaoshi yu Wanqing Kouan Wenren (Mission- aries and Late Qing Treaty-ports Literati). Guangdong People’s Press, 2007.

Huters, Theodore. Bringing the World Home: Appropriating the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China. U of Hawai’i P, 2005. DOI:

Isaacson, Nathaniel. Celestial Empire: The Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction. Wesleyan UP, 2017.

Jia Liyuan. ‘Xiandai’ yu ‘weizhi’: wan Qing kehuan xiaoshuo yan- jiu (‘Modern’ and ‘Unknown’: A Study of Late Qing Science Fic- tion). Peking UP, 2021.

Ming Feng-ying. “Baoyu in Wonderland: Technological Utopia in the Early Modern Chinese Science Fiction Novel.” China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative Literature, edited by Yingjin Zhang. Stanford UP, 1998. DOI:

Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures on World Literature.” New Left Review, vol. 2, no. 1, Feb 2000, pp. 54-68.

Pan, Guangzhe. Wan Qing shiren de xixue yuedu shi: 1833-1898 (A History of Late Qing Literati Reading of Western Learnings). Fenghuang Publishing House, 2019.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transcultur- ation. Routledge, 1992.

Song, Mingwei. Young China: National Rejuvenation and the Bil- dungsroman, 1900-1959. Harvard UP, 2015. DOI:

Wang, Der-wei David. Fin-de-Siecle Splendor: Repressed Moderni- ties of Late Qing Fiction, 1849-1911. Stanford UP, 1997. DOI:

Wu, Jianren. Wu Jianren quanji: shehui xiaoshuo ji: shang. (The Complete Works of Wu Jianren: Social Novels, Part One). Bei- fang Wenyi, 2019.

Xiong, Yuezhi. Yizhi wenhua jiaozhi xia de Shanghai dushi shen- ghuo (Urban Life in Shanghai in the Context of Heterogenous Cultural Entanglement). Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House, 2008.

———. Xixue dongjian yu wanqing shehui (The Western Learn- ing’s Coming to the East and Late Qing Society). Shanghai Peo- ple’s Press, 1995.

Zhang, Zhi. “Wanqing kexue xiaoshuo chuyi: dui wenxue zuopin yiji qi sixiang beijing yu zhishi shiye de kaocha (A Humble Study of Late Qing Science Fiction: A Study of the Literary Works and Their Intellectual Background as well as Epistemological Out- look).” Kexue Wenhua pinglun. vol. 6, no. 5, 2009, pp. 69-96. CAJ e-Book edition. Accessed 3 Feb 2023.

Zhou, Zhenhe. Sui wuya zhi lu (A Journey with the Endless). SDX Joint Publishing Company, 2017.