Liu Cixin: science fiction author interview (video).

In an enthralling cosmic rendezvous, Cixin Liu, the stellar luminary from the East meets Britain’s own star-sprinkler, Jim Al-Khalili, in a dialogue that promises to stretch from the quaint lanes of quantum conundrums right into the galactic alleys of science fiction sagacity. Our beloved Liu, whose quill has danced to the rhythm of the cosmos, narrating tales that spiral from the cultural ferment of China’s yesteryears to the unfathomable stretches of the universe, sits down with Al-Khalili, a sage who spins the yarn of physics into the eloquent fabric of understanding, charming us mere mortals on BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific.

Now, isn’t this a pairing to tweak the antennae of any self-respecting science aficionado or speculative fiction zealot? On one side, you have Liu, whose Three-Body Trilogy not only snagged the first Hugo for an Asian author but also managed to weave a narrative stretching over millions of years, encompassing scenes from ancient Byzantium to the outlandish musings of an ant. On the other, there’s Al-Khalili, the physicist who can explain the quirkiness of quarks and the fancies of fermions, all while maintaining a charisma that would make even a neutrino stop in its speedy tracks.

But what brews when these two cerebral titans exchange volleys of thought? Imagine the melding of minds, where Liu discusses the architectural intricacies of inter-dimensional wars, while Al-Khalili ponders the quantum quandaries nestled within biological systems. Perhaps Liu would elucidate on crafting a narrative that marries the grandeur of cosmos-spanning civilisational tussles with the intimate agony of individual destinies, a narrative so potent that even the grand Mo Yan nodded in approval. And what of Al-Khalili? Maybe he’ll unravel the threads of quantum biology, spinning a tale where Schrödinger’s cat both purrs and perishes, all within the biological sanctums of our own cells. Or he might just elucidate on the nuances of open quantum systems, a discourse that could very well illumine the shadows lurking within Liu’s own dark forests of narrative.

One could muse endlessly on the possibilities. Will Al-Khalili probe the scientific underpinnings of Liu’s antediluvian futures? Will Liu inspire Al-Khalili with the cosmic dance of civilisations, nudging him towards novel scientific horizons? Oh, the intellectual spectacle it promises to be!

Let’s not forget, this tête-à-tête is set against the backdrop of the British Library’s ‘Chinese and British’ exhibition, a setting that whispers tales of cultural confluences and intellectual exchanges, a fitting arena for such a distinguished dialogue.

As Liu and Al-Khalili prepare to traverse the realms of reality and imagination, we, the eager audience, are but humble passengers aboard their ship of inquiry, destined for a journey that spans the microscopic to the cosmic, the historical to the futuristic. Buckle up, folks, for this promises to be a conversation that not only enlightens but also exhilarates, a true testament to the power of human curiosity and creativity. So, grab your helmets (metaphorical, of course) and prepare for lift-off into the intellectual cosmos.


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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