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China’s Sci-Fi Boom: Digital and Audiobooks, Tourism on the Rise

CultureArtChina's Sci-Fi Boom: Digital and Audiobooks, Tourism on the Rise

China’s science fiction industry has seen a whopping 50.5% increase in revenue, totaling 82.96 billion yuan ($12.07 billion) in 2021, according to the recently published 2022 China Science Fiction Industry Report by the China Science Fiction Research Center and the Southern University of Science and Technology.

The report highlights that sci-fi gaming has been the biggest contributor to the industry’s revenue growth in 2021, generating 67 billion yuan. Meanwhile, sci-fi-related merchandise experienced the highest revenue growth, increasing over 186% from 2.12 billion yuan in 2020 to 6.07 billion yuan in 2021.

Sci-fi movies and literature generated 7.19 billion yuan and 2.7 billion yuan in revenue, respectively, while digital and audiobooks and sci-fi tourism have emerged as notable developments in the Chinese sci-fi industry.

With its ability to transport audiences to new worlds, explore future possibilities, and tackle the complexities of humanity, science fiction has long captured the imaginations of readers, moviegoers, and gamers worldwide. In China, the industry has seen a boom in recent years, thanks to the international recognition of Chinese writers such as Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang, and the sci-fi blockbuster “Wandering Earth” becoming the country’s fifth highest-grossing film of all time.

The China Science Fiction Research Center’s director, Wang Ting, attributed the industry’s healthy growth to the popularity of recent sci-fi blockbusters such as “Wandering Earth II” and the TV series “The Three-Body Problem.” She added that the center would continue to promote theoretical research, talent training, and international exchanges in science fiction, further contributing to the industry’s development.

Professor Wu Yan from the Southern University of Science and Technology labeled the period from 2016 to 2020 as the “golden years” of China’s sci-fi development, characterized by the total revenue rising from 10 billion yuan to 55.1 billion yuan and the burgeoning sci-fi literature industry.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a massive decline in China’s movie industry, the launch of new sci-fi-related policies, awards, and shows, along with the rising popularity of the metaverse, has provided a resurgence in China’s sci-fi industry. Wu believes that the future of China’s sci-fi industry will be brighter than ever, especially after the recent National Action Plan for Scientific Literacy 2021-2035 released by China’s Cabinet, which stated that science fiction is a crucial method for promoting scientific innovation, literacy, and culture.

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