The Prosperous Time: China 2013, by Chen Guanzhong,
Press Oxford University , HK$70.00. (China)
What sets the novel apart is its attempt at maintaining an Orwellian perspective against the one-party autocracy while bringing the setting up-to-date: the dark gruesome milieu in Orwell's 1984 is replaced with a jubilant celebratory mood. This proves to be both an accomplishment and a challenge for the plot. The storyline hangs together well for most of the book, but falls short in the end. It seems as if the author had set out to tackle the paradox of why an authoritarian government should be advocated by the majority of people, but ends up being persuaded by his own antagonist of the regime's legitimacy. Part of this weakness might have been caused by missed opportunities in the plot, for which I will attempt a more detailed analysis in a formal review. Despite this neo-Orwellian novel's unintended counter-Orwellian ending, it nonetheless leaves the reader troubled by the possibility of widespread public support for a non-democratic regime and thus the failure of democracy's universal value.
Update: related link -"The Return of Politically Charged Science Fiction in China" (Foreign Policy)