One of the joys of learning Chinese is having an entire new world open up before me. One of the more fascinating ways this has happened is experiencing the audiobooks* of Hugo-award winning sci-fi author 刘慈欣.

Although his most famous work is 《三体》(“The Three-Body Problem“), it’s one of his short stories, 《流浪地球》(“The Wandering Earth”) that’s making its big-screen premiere in a matter of weeks.

In preparation, I managed to talk a Chinese co-worker into hearing the whole audiobook with me on our drive back from a business visit to Atlanta. He seemed as hooked as I was.

刘慈欣’s style is “hard science fiction”—unlike Star Trek or Star Wars, he tries to keep things as scientifically accurate as possible. Although the premise of the story—moving the earth to another solar system to avoid the sun’s explosion—may seem far-fetched, the details are, at least as far as I can tell, quite plausible. Even in Chinese, the descriptions of the catastrophic consequences of such an endeavor are vivid and believable.

According to the book, the entire project requires generations to pull off. The main character lived during the time of the greatest transition. It begins:

“I’ve never seen the night, nor seen a star; I’ve seen neither spring, nor fall, nor winter. I was born at the end of the Reining Age, just as earth’s rotation was coming to a final halt.”

The book carefully explains the phases, from stopping the earth’s rotation, to propelling it out of the solar system, to accelerating into deep space, to finally decelerating near its targeted new home. Of course, the process devastated the earth’s surface (including turning the atmosphere into bizarre frozen formations on the surface), requiring everyone to live underground.

In the original, as the catastrophes begin to subside and life settles down, there’s a shocking—but all-too realistic—major twist in the human realm that could potentially derail the operation.

Once you’ve read the book, a big concern you always have is: Will the movie be faithful to the book, or will it be “Hollywood-ized?” Or, in this case, “Qingdao-ized,” since that’s where it was shot. The little bit of reading and trailer-watching I’ve done makes me concerned.

Regardless of how this film actually turns out, the previews alone tell us something: Chinese sci-fi is here.

*For his audiobooks, this is the set to hear. I was able to acquire it as an in-app purchase through Apple. For an English translation of some of his stories available on Kindle, that’s here. Skip the story “The Wages of Humanity.” It’s awful. My favorite is “The Longest Fall.”