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Chang Shi-kuo to Teach Science Fiction at NTHU
On December 10th, the Institute of Sinophone Studies appointed Chang Shi-kuo, the father of Taiwanese science fiction, as an honorary chair professor. Professor Chang delivered a series of lectures titled “Both Sides of Chang Shi-kuo: The Romance of Science and the Reality of Fantasy” covering such themes as utopias and parallel universes. Chang also held a workshop for NTHU students on writing science fiction.
 
The two key elements of science fiction are science and fantasy, and Chang is distinguished in both. Chang is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and by virtue of his rich background in science and engineering the scientific arguments in his works are particularly solid. His literary career began while he was still an undergraduate at National Taiwan University (NTU), and in addition to science fiction he also wrote fables and realism. His famous novel The Chess King was translated into various languages, including English and German, and was also adapted into a film, a musical stage play, and a TV series.
 
At the appointment ceremony Chang said that he is very happy to return to Hsinchu as an honorary chair professor. He explained that many schools invited him to lecture in the field of computers and information technology, but NTHU is the first one to hire him to teach literature, adding that “perhaps this means that I’ve finally made a name for myself as a writer!”
 
Chang said that his connection with NTHU actually goes back to his boyhood, when he attended the Experimental Elementary School of National Hsinchu University of Education (NHCUE), which has been merged with NTHU in 2016 . While introducing the topics he covered in his workshop, he said that he enjoyed the opportunity to work with the participants and would like to stay in touch with them afterwards.
 
While presenting Chang with the official appointment letter, NTHU president Hocheng Hong quipped that “Chang writes computer programs with his left hand and novels with his right hand.” He also recalled that during the martial law era in Taiwan, Chang’s science fiction was a breath of fresh air for lots of people, and that he especially enjoyed reading Chang’s works Reverend Pi and Forest of Merriness.
 
Huang Shu-min, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said that Chang is a long-time friend of his, and that when they were both studying at NTU Chang was well known for his talents in playing violin, writing articles, and writing computer programs. He said that during the strict censorship of the martial law era, reading Chang’s work was like taking a furtive glimpse of a forbidden world, and that his lecture series is sure to be an interesting one.
 
Professor Lin Chia-yi, the director of the Institute of Sinophone Studies, said that Chang's works are highly readable, and are noted for their creativity, clear plots, and well-developed characters. Most of his works are set in a society under martial law, and often read like a historical romance reflecting human desires and fears.
 
Du Chiuyun, a junior in the Department of Chinese Literature, said that Chang’s science fiction motivates readers to imagine how science and technology are shaping the future, especially his collection of essays V-Topia and “The City of the Bronze Statue” in his short story collection Nebula Suite.
 
After graduating from National Hsinchu Senior High School with excellent grades, Chang completed his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at NTU, and then earned a doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at Cornell University and the University of Illinois, and he is the founder the Knowledge Systems Institute (KSI), which promotes joint research in information science, systems science, and the social sciences.
 
Chang began writing science fiction in the mid-1970s, and in the 1980s the publication of his Nebula Suite marked the beginning of the golden age of science fiction in Taiwan. Always keen to promote Chinese science fiction, he has founded a publishing house and edited three anthologies of contemporary science fiction. He once said that even though he wears various hats, literature is his favorite endeavor, and that he hopes the word “novelist” will appear on his epitaph.
 
When former NTHU president Shen Chun-shan passed away in September 2018 Chang commemorated him with a series of speeches, and wrote, “I’ve been in contact with Shen Chun-shan for some 30 years, and a few of my characters have been modeled after him, such as the robot in my short story “The Yangxian Scholar” and the pundit in my novel The Chess King; he always took it in stride.”
 

Chang Shi-kuo autographing his work for NTHU students.

Chang Shi-kuo autographing his work for NTHU students.



NTHU president Hocheng Hong presenting Chang with his official appointment letter.

NTHU president Hocheng Hong presenting Chang with his official appointment letter.



Chang introducing his lecture series and workshop.

Chang introducing his lecture series and workshop.



Huang Shu-min, the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting Chang with a silk banner of the College.

Huang Shu-min, the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting Chang with a silk banner of the College.

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