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"Wŏ Xĭ Yè"

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"In this tale, Europe is a Chinese colony and it describes the Chinese government’s suppression of an uprising planned by European "restoration" rebels. The Chinese Emperor orders the generalissimo in charge of Europe, Wen Suchen, to suppress the rebellion with flying warships. Generalissimo Wen not only conquers all seventy-two European nations but continues on to the moon and Jupiter as well. The most marvellous part of this tale is that Jupiter is described as being covered completely with gold and abounding with flora and fauna–the perfect destination for migration. Wen is then appointed Governor of Jupiter. From then on, the means of communication and transportation between Earth and Jupiter is, naturally, by flying ship."

The story? Lu Shi'e's Xin Ye Sou Pu Yan (1909). A shame it will never be translated--I think it'd make for fascinating reading, if only as a counterpoint to the Victorian colonialist sf.

(I got this from Chen Pingyuan's "From Popular Science to Science Fiction: An Investigation of 'Flying Machines'", about flying machines in 19th century and early 20th century Chinese sf. Oh, how I wish I'd found this before finishing Victoriana; I'd have loved to write about it, since I could then have good reason to bring in the Fabulous Airship of 1897).
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On January 18th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC), chadu commented:
That is cooler than penguin shit.

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On January 18th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Tomorrow I will scan in images.

Really freaking cool images.
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On January 18th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC), richardthinks commented:
That's absolutely adorable. I was thinking just the other day - what would have happened if Columbus had been exactly right? If, instead of discovering a great big continental land mass athwart his path to Cathay, he had, as he expected, sailed straight into Beijing harbour about a month after leaving Spain?

Economically, militarily and technologically, in 1492 Europe was weaker than China. Nonetheless, I doubt China would have overrun its neighbour to the East. Things might have become really interesting when the Manchus took over, though.
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On January 18th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC), casaubon replied:
For maximum amusement, push forward the voyage 60 years and the Europeans could have met Zheng He coming the other way. :)
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On January 18th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Exactly my thought. I don't think China could have successfully and continuously projected its military to Europe, circa 1492. It sure could have temporarily stomped on Europe's capitals, though. :-)
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On January 18th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC), richardthinks replied:
you're right, of course, but I was deliberately trying not to go there. It would make me think about just what Zheng He was doing, and that'll tie me up for months if I let it.

My guess is, even in that unique window of exploration the Chinese court wouldn't follow through aggressively (though there might be demands for tribute, which, given the mismatch in size and armament of ships, just might be forthcoming). What could happen is a massive maritime militarisation in Europe in response to the new 'threat,' which could mess up all sorts of power balances between European states and with the Ottomans. Especially if it became known that Zheng He, too, was a Muslim.

Stop. Stop stop stop.
Phew. back to work.
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On January 18th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC), casaubon replied:
I was wondering what would have happened if Arab Egypt had repaired/kept up the old Suez Canal. Zheng He visited the Red Sea so could have taken some of his smaller ships through to the Mediterranean. I doubt the old canal was big enough to let a treasure ship through. :)
But I agree that the Chinese didn't seem interested in conquest.
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On January 18th, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC), richardthinks replied:
Interesting thought... apart from size, the other problem is navigating northwards in the upper Red Sea - contrary winds, rip currents and thick reefs make it really difficult at any time of year, according to my sources. Do you know if he completed the hajj? (was that what he was up to, quietly?)
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On January 18th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC), casaubon replied:
I'm just working from internet sources, but apparently he visited Arabia so it's conceivable that he did complete the hajj. Since he'd gone all that way, it'd make sense...
On January 19th, 2007 02:15 am (UTC), (Anonymous) replied:
if you're interested then I'm told Louise Levathes' "When China ruled the Seas" is the go-to book for Zheng He history. Avoid "1421 and all that" if factual basis for histyory is your thing.

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On January 19th, 2007 02:30 am (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Levathes isn't bad, but she makes some mistakes and doesn't use the most recent material on Zheng He.

The two best books on the good Admiral--and I did a lot of research on him for my novel--are Edward Dreyer's Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1413 (Pearson/Longman, 2007) and Paul Rozario's Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet, 1405-1433 (SNP, 2005). The Dreyer is particularly good on the most likely dimensions of the bao chuan (treasure ships).
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On January 19th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC), casaubon replied:
Great! Thanks.
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On January 19th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC), richardthinks replied:
seconded: thanks, I'll run off and find the Dreyer right away, work resolve be damned.
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On January 19th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Well worth the money and effort to find.
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On January 18th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC), thehornedgod commented:
Oh, man. That does need translating.
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On January 18th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC), ratmmjess replied:
Oh, yeah. A shame my linguistic skills aren't up to the task.
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