restricted access The sf cinema of mainland China: Politics, production and market potential

Mainland China's film industry has developed in tandem with the country's meteoric economic rise, resulting in a sector of mass production that has become reliant on genre to maintain the interest of a local audience which also has the entertainment options provided by Hollywood imports. However, sf is notable by its relative absence in terms of local production, even though the mainland box office success of such Hollywood blockbusters as Transformers and Avatar indicates that the audience has an insatiable appetite for narratives that involve aliens, other worlds and robots. This article will examine the reasons for this lack of genre production, consider the erratic history of China's sf cinema and offer textual analysis of key films, produced both independently and within the state system from 1980 to 2009. These films will also be considered in relation to China's strict censorship system, which forbids stories involving time travel and insists on an adherence to science fact.