Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of anglophone (i.e. originally written in English) fantasy fiction set in pseudo-China. The prevalence of Japanese-sounding names and obvious analogues for Japan strikes me.
The first question is: why do so many anglophone fantasy writers put (pseudo-)Japanese in their (pseudo-)China?The second question is: why do I find this surprising?
Since I am a thousand times better at reading my mind than reading other people’s minds, I’ll start with the second question.
Before I learned Mandarin, I read a few fantasy novels in China-coded setting (such as Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep). However, the overwhelming majority of speculative fiction I’ve read with any kind of Chinese setting has been wuxia, xianxia, xuanhuan, and qihuan originally written in Chinese. Since ‘wuxia, xianxia, xuanhuan, and qihuan’ is a mouthful, I’m just going to lump them all under ‘fantastical fiction’. Thus, in my mind, fantastical fiction written in Chinese sets the standard for what I expect for a fantasy story set in (pseudo-)China.
Guess what: references to Japan, Japanese people, or recognizable analogues are rare in what is written in Chinese. Continue reading