David W. Hill: The most popular SF writer you've never heard of

The Nov. 2007 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction focuses on both science fiction in China and the recent Chengdu International Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival. While there are a number of good articles in the issue--including essays about the Chengdu Festival by David Brin, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Swanwick--the most fascinating read is an interview with a science fiction writer you've probably never heard of: David Wesley Hill.

Hill has had some success with science fiction in the United States, winning second place in the Writers of the Future contest in 1998 and publishing his short fiction in Talebones, Black Gate, Brutarian Quarterly, and Aboriginal SF. However, none of that compares to Hill's success in China. A number of his stories have been published in Science Fiction World, a Chinese magazine with the largest distribution of any SF/F periodical in the world. In addition, one of his stories, an ozone depletion tale called "The Curtain Falls," hit a deep nerve ten years ago with Chinese audiences. As Science Fiction World editor Yang Xiao writes:

"The Curtain Falls ... by the American writer David W. Hill presents a vivid, touching vision of how people suffer after the ozonosphere is damaged. The story was first published in our Science Fiction World in 1993, then reprinted in Readers, China’s most popular magazine, in 1994, arousing an immediate sensation among millions of Chinese readers. Shocked by the story ... many readers wrote to our magazine, expressing their strong determination to prevent ... the fictitious tragedy of the hero and his family from becoming a reality. In addition, [the] China State Environmental Protection Office reprinted the story and spread it among the broad masses of people in Beijing on the 1995 International Day of Ozonosphere Protection."

Despite this success, odds are you've never heard of the story (which I couldn't find online). In fact, when Mikael Huss mentioned the history of "The Curtain Falls" in an essay about Chinese SF in Science Fiction Studies, he added an editor's note stating "evidently the title has been lost in translation, as there is no U.S. book of that title."

As Michael Swanwich writes in the NYRSF, David Hill "may not be well known in the U.S., but is big as big in China." With luck Hill will begin to gain more exposure in the West, especially with his new science fiction novel being represented by Shawna McCarthy. (Publishers, take note!) Anyway, the wonderful NYRSF interview with him was written by poet Carolyn Click and offers a fascinating look at both Hill and the thriving Chinese science fiction world. Pick up a copy today.