liu cixin author of the wandering earth

Liu Cixin Reviews New Film Adaption of His ‘The Wandering Earth’

On February 5, the renowned sci-fi author spoke with Chinese state media and reflected on the bugs, special effects, and innovations of ‘The Wandering Earth 2’

3 0
1:08 PM HKT, Wed February 8, 2023 2 mins read

On February 5, in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), science fiction author Liu Cixin reviewed The Wandering Earth 2, the second installment in a film series based on his short story of the same name.

a screenshot from liu cixin interview with cctv

A screenshot from Liu’s interview with CCTV

Liu’s story ‘The Wandering Earth’ was first published in July 2000 in Science Fiction World (科幻世界), a prestigious Chinese print magazine. It depicts humankind’s attempt to escape a dying Sun by piloting our cosmic home out of the solar system.

The first film adaption came out in 2019 and loosely followed the short story, in which Jupiter’s gravitational pull threatens to destroy Earth almost two decades after the journey begins.

The second film, on the other hand, is an entirely new venture. The Wandering Earth 2 is a prequel to the earlier film and was released on January 22 this year.

Liu said in the CCTV interview, “The Wandering Earth 2 is very different from my story. It is completely an original work by the film’s creators, which is very encouraging.”

Directed by Frant Gwo and starring actors Andy Lau and Wu Jing, it made 378 million USD in its first week alone.

promotional poster for the wandering earth 2

A promotional poster for The Wandering Earth 2. Image via IMDb

Below, we give you some of Liu’s top takeaways regarding the film.

An Innovative Spirit

Liu has already seen The Wandering Earth 2 in theaters twice, and he has repeatedly expressed his awe at the quality of the work.

In a post on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, Liu wrote, “The creators of The Wandering Earth 2 are very similar to the characters in the film, their great courage and innovative spirit serving as an engine, pushing the planet of sci-fi films into the future.”

Again, in the CCTV interview, Liu said, “The Wandering Earth 2 is really well-made… [and] looks like a historical documentary, with a sense of heaviness and importance.”

In the author’s opinion, the film is an evolution of the Chinese science fiction genre as a whole, giving him hope that the genre no longer has to rely on novel adaptations.

The Problematic Space Elevator

Despite his love for The Wandering Earth 2, Liu also noted a small error.

In the film, the space elevator is launched by four rockets. However, Liu has pointed out that rockets are unnecessary.

Liu Cixin complains about the rockets on the space elevator in the wandering earth 2

The rockets on the space elevator. Screengrab via the CCTV interview

“The point of building a space elevator is to eliminate the use of rockets… [otherwise,] what is the point?” he explained.

Other than the rockets, though, he seems to have no complaints.

Easter Eggs Galore

Liu claimed in the aforementioned Weibo post that “[The Wandering Earth 2] has a huge amount of information, [and] every time you watch it, you can discover new details, new feelings, and new mysteries.”

In this spirit, some netizens have gone back to look for Easter eggs.

One blogger noted that Yaya — a child whose being is preserved online, an example of ‘digital life’ — wears the same sweater before and after her death, but the embroidered rabbits smile in real life and frown in the digital world.

a comparison of yaya's sweater before and after her death in the wandering earth 2

A comparison of Yaya’s sweater after her death (left) and before her death (right). Image via Weibo

“This implies that digital life is not feasible,” writes the blogger. The promise of digital life is a big part of The Wandering Earth 2: The project to thrust Earth out of the solar system is upended multiple times by terrorists who believe digital life is the best way to preserve humanity.

Other Easter eggs the blogger points out are references to the 1968 sci-fi adventure film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1967 Colombian novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Liu’s most notable work, The Three-Body Problem.

A Science Fiction Writer From Age 16

Liu, who was born in 1963, told CCTV later in the interview that he began writing science fiction in high school.

“I submitted two manuscripts for publication, but I was rejected, so I stopped writing,” he said, a cycle that continued sporadically throughout the rest of his schooling.

After college, he worked as an electrical engineer, but he always returned to science fiction. Liu published his most famous work, The Three-Body Problem, in 2006 (soon to be a Netflix show) and became the first Asian author to win a Hugo Award in 2015.

Those in the mood for the latest adaptation of Liu’s The Three-Body Problem can watch the live-action series Three-Body, which premiered on January 15 and is wrapping up on Tencent.

Cover image via the author

Join the Conversation
Write comment

Pour yourself a stiff one, we'll be with you in a minute