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Daily Drip

Yet Another Liu Cixin Novel is Getting Made Into a TV Series

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Chinese TV networks and film studios continue to green-light Chinese sci-fi works in the wake of The Wandering Earth‘s blockbuster success at the Spring Festival box office earlier this year. And while there may be a number of adaptation-worthy works from various writers out there, a prevalence for Wandering Earth author Liu Cixin appears to be hard to shake.

In the past two weeks alone two different adaptations of Liu’s renowned Three-Body Problem have been announced:

Liu Cixin’s “Three-Body Problem” To Be Adapted as 24-Episode TV Series

There’s Another “Three-Body Problem” TV Adaptation in the Works – And It Might Make It to Screens First

And now Chinese-language movie news site MTime is reporting that Liu’s Ball Lightning is also set to be given the TV show treatment. (Previously pretty unknown) Shanghai Yingma Studios have seemingly been given permission to start a six-month-long shoot for a 42-episode series based on the novel in September of this year. Sounds… ambitious.

Dubbed “a gripping tale of obsession from the biggest name in Chinese sci-fi” by The VergeBall Lightning follows the story of a young protagonist haunted by his parents’ dramatic death caused by ball lightning. Fixated on the rare phenomenon, he accumulates as much knowledge about it as he can, eventually meeting a young woman who shares his obsession, but to darker ends.

Although it may seem like there’s something of a sudden rush on to turn anything sci-fi into a TV show or a film in China at the moment, as Christine Xueting Ni has pointed out on this site, the country has a long tradition of science fiction adaptations and productions. The choice of this particular novel is especially interesting in the current climate however, given its geopolitical framing amid an apparent conflict between China and certain overseas adversaries, widely interpreted to be the US.

Whatever tack the studio decides to take, this should be an interesting one to keep an eye on.

Cover image: Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.