Lecture Series Explores Science Fiction


Writer and translator Ken Liu will discuss Chinese science fiction in a free lecture 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Jonsson Performance Hall. The event is part of the Anlin Ku Lecture Series.

In the world of literature, the Hugo Awards are considered among the highest honors for authors of science fiction and fantasy, and UT Dallas will welcome several Hugo recipients, among other scholars, for a slate of science fiction-themed talks.

On Thursday, the School of Arts and Humanities, in collaboration with the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology and the Center for Translation Studies, will host the fourth annual installment of its Anlin Ku Lecture Series with Chinese science fiction writer and translator Ken Liu.

“Ken Liu's lecture addresses two grand convergences: science fiction as the convergence of art with science and translation as the artful convergence of cultures, in this case Chinese and Western,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the school and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities. “He excels as both an award-winning author and an award-winning translator of imaginative, powerful fiction. It is hard to imagine a more appropriate speaker for the Anlin Ku series.”

His talk, “Betrayal with Integrity: Conformance and Estrangement in Translating Chinese Science Fiction,” will explore the origin of Chinese science fiction using his acclaimed translation of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem and his own work.  

Liu will share his thoughts on translation theory and the modern conception of translation as a process of cultural negotiation. His book, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a “silkpunk” epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, which melds Western and Chinese epic traditions.

Cixin Liu’s novel is the first Chinese work to receive the Hugo. Ken Liu’s short story “The Paper Menagerie” is the first to receive the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy awards in the same year.

The lecture, which will take place in the Jonsson Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m., will provide a gateway to this year’s “The Power of Science Fiction” lecture series presented by the Center for Values. The series will welcome a slate of science fiction writers and scholars, including multiple award winners Kim Stanley Robinson and Dr. Nnedi Okorafor.

“This year’s series explores the power of science fiction to affect our lives and our world,” said Dr. Matthew J. Brown, director of the center. “Science fiction is often dismissed as an escapist genre, but this dismissal is a mistake. Science fiction can help us think about the role of science and technology in society — how we value them and what we fear about them.”

The series will kick off next month with a reading from his new science fiction epic poem by Dr. Frederick Turner, Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas.   

The Power of Science Fiction Lecture Series

All lectures will be held in the Jonsson Performance Hall.

Dr. Frederick TurnerWednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Turner’s science fiction epic poems gained him the distinction of being a consultant for NASA’s long-range futures group, through which he met astronomer Carl Sagan and the originators of the Mars colony movement.

Dr. Brian David JohnsonWednesday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Johnson is a professor of practice in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University and a futurist at the Center for Science and the Imagination.

Dr. Melissa LittlefieldWednesday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Littlefield is an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her scholarship often intersects with science and technology studies, and her research focuses on contemporary and historical intersections between neuroscientific technologies, science fiction and popular media.

Dr. Nnedi OkoraforFriday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m.

Nnedi Okorafor, a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Buffalo, is a novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism. Her novels include the highly praised Who Fears Death and the Hugo Award-winning novella, Binti. 

Kim Stanley RobinsonWednesday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.

Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer known for his award-winning Mars trilogy. Throughout his career, he has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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