Maria Holland

Not Sure If My Chinese Is Terrible, Or If This Book is Just Strange . . .

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2015 at 2:05 pm

This book really is like walking into a dark cave.  So much of communication is context, and I have none.

I’m in the fourth chapter right now.  The main character (so far?? apparently there is another, more main character, that I have not yet met??), Wang Miao, is playing a video game.  He is walking in a cold place and sees two men wearing robes.  One of them introduces himself as Zhou Wen-Wang, and the other as his follower.  The second guy is carrying a giant hourglass.  They use this to track the time, because the sun is not reliable.  Actually, there are two suns, and they come out and go away seemingly at random.

With me so far?

After they walk for some time, the second sun comes out.  Unlike the first sun, which is weak and doesn’t warm them, the second sun is so strong that they seek shelter behind a rock.  But then there’s a conversation between Zhou and his follower along these lines:

Follower: I can’t stand it; you won’t give me any dried fish and you won’t let me eat the dehydrated ones . . .
Zhou: Then you can just dehydrate.
Follower: After I dehydrate, you won’t throw me away?
Zhou: Of course not, I promise to bring you along.

Around this time, I go and look up the word 脱水, just to make sure it does mean “dehydrate”.  This just doesn’t make sense, right?? But it does.  So I keep reading.

The follower climbs out from behind the rock, takes off his cloak, and lays down on the ground.  He starts sweating heavily, so heavily that it turns into little streams . . . and after ten minutes, he is just a human-shaped piece of skin.  

Zhou assures Wang Miao that he is not dead as he rolls this piece of skin up into a convenient bundle.  He further explains that everyone in this world has the ability to dehydrate under this sun.  And that they have to carry him with them, because if they leave him by the side of the road he’ll get eaten or burned by others.  

This was my understanding of the passage.  But this whole eating dehydrated people struck me as a little odd, no?  So I stopped by my roommate’s room; she’s read the book and has offered to help me if I get stuck.  I explained to her my interpretation above, and she listened, nodding every few seconds.  When I got to the end, she looked at me as if to ask, “So what’s your question?”

Never mind.  It’s hard to tell if my Chinese is good enough – if I’m actually reading or just making up fantastical stories.  I guess that’s one additional challenge of reading science fiction.  In these books (and especially when the characters are playing video games) anything is possible!  

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