It is no secret that the United States of America is in a state of political and social turmoil, and has been in turmoil for the last 685 days. Elections have yielded unpredictable results; laws are being passed, rolled back, declared unconstitutional, or misinterpreted. Misunderstanding and misplaced anger are high and aimed at undeserving groups. Modern-day Nazis and white supremacists gathered en masse and walked through major cities. For a while, our world seemed to become worse. But, in the midst of the chaos, voices could be heard. Women stood up and declared, “Me Too.” Men and women alike huddled in front of computer screens, enraptured by The Handmaid’s Tale. Men and women gained the courage to stand up, let their voices be heard, and tell their stories. Sometimes it was about them, and sometimes it was about their characters.
Few fantasy series are as popular as The Lord of the Rings. Originally published between 1954 and 1955, this trilogy was written as a sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s earlier novel, The Hobbit, published in 1937. The tales of Middle-Earth, of hobbits and elves and men, inspired generations of writers and storytellers in a way not many other works of fiction have. Many novels and series attempted to capitalize on Tolkien’s success, but none ever came close to his great heights. Years later, Peter Jackson adapted the books into a beloved film trilogy, and film history is full of movies and TV series trying to mimic his feat.
I was caught countless times, and angered my middle-school teachers, reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in class. In fifth grade alone, I must have read and re-read Tolkien’s creation over half a dozen times.
Readers will be forgiven for believing that all science-fiction originates in the West. Since the inception of the genre, American and English authors have dominated the field, telling the stories we all know. Jules Verne was a pioneer with The War of the Worlds, William Gibson created the modern vision of virtual reality with Neuromancer, and George Lucas will go down as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time for creating the universe of Star Wars. But science-fiction does not belong to the West alone. The Three-Body Problem, written by Liu Cixin, is a work of Chinese science-fiction. Part one of a trilogy, the novel is not just a good read, but an important one as well.