Signing with the Writers’ Association

Liu Cixin (刘慈欣), a science fiction writer who up until recently has been based in Niangziguan, Shanxi Province, recently posted to the SMTH BBS about signing a contract with the province’s Writers’ Association:

On May 12, I became one of nine writers in the province under contract to the Shanxi Writers’ Association. It’s actually a book agreement: they give part of the money upon signing, and after finishing they give another portion. I signed for Three Body II. I wasn’t cheating them: I started writing after I applied, and by the time it was approved, it had already been published for some time, since after all I couldn’t stay idle for the year in between. They apparently aren’t very clear about the publishing schedule of science fiction novels. The other writers under contract are all worried that they won’t be able to finish on time, and only three of the ten writers in the previous group extended their contracts. They’re going to appoint an older writer to give us special instruction. The previous group had four months’ training at the Lu Xun Institute (impossible for me), and took a trip to Egypt. I hope there’s an opportunity to go abroad, even if just to Ethiopia.

Three Body II: The Black Forest (三体II:黑暗森林), the second volume of an alien invasion trilogy, was published in June, 2008, and made a number of best-of lists for the year.

Further down the thread, in response to an observation that the system seems basically like a book-selling arrangement, he writes:

It’s more like government support. The association sees no profit itself, and I don’t know anyone there. It’s an acknowledgement of science fiction, which is pretty admirable to see in the great realist stronghold of Shanxi Literature.

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