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Fantasy Chongqing: Xiao Xinghan's Vision of Chongqing's Underground World


Chongqing - Located at the gateway to the Three Gorges and a pivotal city in the Bashu region, Chongqing is renowned for its dramatic topography and multi-level transportation system, earning it the moniker "City of Magic." Fantasy Chongqing, the first sci-fi graphic anthology set against the backdrop of a city, brings together 11 esteemed sci-fi writers who reimagine Chongqing through their unique lenses, presenting a richly layered and multifaceted urban landscape.

Xiao Xinghan, whose real name is Qin Jian, is an elementary school teacher, a member of the China Writers Association, and the deputy director of the Science Fiction Literature Committee of the Chongqing Writers Association. He has published works in nationally distributed journals such as Science Fiction and has received numerous accolades, including the Chinese Nebula Award's Xingyun Awards for Global Chinese Science Fiction, the Yuan Shi Award, and the Jin Kang Award. Since 1996, he has been systematically creating both sci-fi and popular science literature, publishing 30 books and penning over 6 million words to date.

As a native of Chongqing, Xiao has intricately woven the essence of this city into his sci-fi narratives. The unique landscapes and distinct Spirit of Chongqing City are vividly reflected in his works. Xiao said, "Chongqing's underground world is incredibly rich. It can be said that there is an above-ground Chongqing and an equally vibrant underground Chongqing. With the city's rapid transportation development, we have constructed numerous tunnels and metro stations, almost forming a complete underground metropolis. The lifestyle we experience underground is very similar to that above ground."

Red Earth (Hongtudi) is set in the CRT's Hongtudi Station and tells the story of humanity relocating underground following a nuclear crisis, where they combat genetically mutated species and ultimately save and revitalize human civilization. The novel's inspiration comes from the unique geographic structure and defensive capabilities of the Hongtudi Station. Xiao mentioned, "When I read the news about the official opening of the Hongtudi Station, it stated that its depth could withstand a nuclear attack. This inspired me to think that in the event of a nuclear war, survivors in my story could seek refuge in the station and continue their existence."

In Red Earth, Xiao explores the survival issues under extreme conditions and delves into the various choices humans face when confronting crises. The novel features an open-ended conclusion, encouraging readers to contemplate their decisions in similar situations. "I hope each reader will consider what choice they would make if they were in that scenario," Xiao said.

In character development, Xiao focused on the female protagonist, a quintessential Chongqing woman. She is assertive, knows her needs, understands what she wants to pursue, and is willing to make significant sacrifices and efforts to achieve her goals. This character vividly embodies the spirit of the Chongqing people within the novel.

As an innovative and unique sci-fi anthology, Fantasy Chongqing integrates Chongqing's iconic buildings, landmarks, and culinary delights. The book also includes nearly 100 award-winning photos from the "Fantasy Chongqing Photography Competition," showcasing Chongqing's sci-fi essence through a combination of evocative prose and striking visuals, making it highly collectible.

Xiao hopes that Fantasy Chongqing will serve as a key, unlocking people's perspectives, understanding, and imagination about Chongqing, and inspiring each individual to discover and create their unique vision of this city.

(Li Tao, as an intern, also contributed to the report)


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