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18th September 2020

Science Game of Thrones makers to adapt Chinese sci-fi classic for Netflix

Science Game of Thrones makers to adapt Chinese sci-fi classic for Netflix


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Can the Games of Thrones team pull off a Chinese sci-fi saga?

Netflix has announced it’s recruited two of the masterminds behind Games of Thrones to adapt bestselling Chinese sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem.

Writers David Benioff and DB Weiss will work on the series with True Blood writer Alexander Woo.

The news has drawn mixed reactions with some fans doubting a US adaptation of the Chinese story will work.

The book is the first instalment of the trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past by writer Liu Cixin.

First published in 2008, the books were soon translated into English and have received both critical acclaim and a global readership, counting former US President Barack Obama and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg among their fans.

The plot of the saga spans from China’s Cultural Revolution to events several thousand years in the future.

“Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe,” Netflix cites writers and executive producers Benioff and Weiss as saying.

“We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world.”

The pair signed an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2019.

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Benioff and Weiss brought the Game of Thrones books to the small screen

The streaming company has not released any information on the release date nor other details about the series.

Science Fears over ‘Western stereotypes’ of China

By Zhijie Shao, BBC News Chinese

Before Liu Cixin and his “Three-Body” series, Chinese science-fiction was not prominent, even among Chinese audience. The country has a history of suppressing its development, which used to be seen by the government as “a western view of the future of mankind”.

Liu’s work captured the imagination of Chinese fans in both scientific and philosophical terms without avoiding some controversial parts of Chinese history and society, bringing an innovative sense of modern China to the world stage. And he did it without being a dissident.

A whole new generation of Chinese sci-fi authors and fans have emerged after Liu’s success.

On the Chinese internet, Three-Body fandom continues to go strong. A group of fans even made an experimental adaptation in Minecraft style,

But when it comes to a proper film adaption, many fans doubt that China’s sci-fi film industry is sophisticated enough to handle the grand ideas presented in Liu’s books.

A case in point: the first attempt of a film adaptation of “Three-Body” was announced in 2015 and reportedly finished filming in only a few months. It was never released.

Now with Netflix and a team of western writers involved, fans are instead worried that the Chinese characters and historical events in the story might fall into “western stereotypes”.

Either way, they’re worried they could never enjoy it as much as they have the books.

Liu Cixin, the Chinese author of the novels, will be involved in the project as a consulting producer.

“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting The Three-Body Problem for television audiences,” he said in a Netflix statement.

“It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”

The movie adaption of The Wandering Earth, another Cixin novel, in 2019 became one of China’s highest-grossing films of all time.

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Liu Cixin’s trilogy has become an international bestseller

The Netflix announcement was welcomed by some fans hoping the producers will create a series as successful as Game of Thrones while others were doubting it was the right team.

Many Chinese netizens were pointing out that they did not think that US producers could do justice to the novels.

Others though said Netflix will be free of any censorship constraints while a Chinese adaptation would be limited in how it could portray events around the Cultural Revolution for instance.

Chinese streaming platform Tencent earlier this year announced its own adaptation of the novel after having already launched a comic book adaptation last year.


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