读书这部不太科幻的科幻小说讲了怎样一个故事

新东方英语 2018-09-10 09:22:26



《北京折叠》是科幻作家郝景芳创作的中短篇小说,获得了2016年雨果奖最佳中短篇小说奖的殊荣。小说在科幻的外衣下讲述了怎样一个故事?又想告诉我们什么呢?


作者简介
郝景芳,1984年生于天津,2002年考入清华大学物理系,本科毕业后进入清华大学天体物理中心深造,后转入清华大学的经管学院攻读经济学博士,2013年开始就职于中国发展研究基金会。郝景芳是中国科幻新生代力量的代表人物,2006年起从事科幻小说创作,代表作有长篇小说《流浪苍穹》、短篇小说集《孤独深处》《去远方》等。短篇小说《北京折叠》(Folding Beijing) 2012年12月发表在清华大学的学生论坛水木社区的科幻版,其后登载于《小说月刊》等杂志,2015年由《三体》的英文译者刘宇昆翻译为英文,收录于《看不见的星球:中国当代科幻小说选集》(Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation)中,2016年8月获得第74届雨果奖最佳中短篇小说奖。
作品赏析
对于生活在当代的我们,城市是最熟悉不过的景观:鳞次栉比的高楼、川流不息的车流、熙熙攘攘的大商场以及进入夜晚后灯火通明的酒吧街。城市是热闹的,人群高密度聚居,每一个人在这里都有一块栖身之地:它可能是一座美轮美奂的豪宅,也可能是一间袖珍的公寓,流浪汉在大桥下的公共空间铺几张报纸、裹一床破被也能度过一夜。社会学中有“社会分层”的概念,它指的是社会群体基于他们所拥有的资源多少而形成的等级。通过占有的空间尺度的不同,我们能够明确判别出城市居住者社会身份的尊卑和垂直意义上的等级差异:谁站在金字塔尖,谁是中产阶级,谁是底层,看看他们拥有的住房、居住的街区、乘坐的交通工具,看看他们的空间配置,就能窥见端倪。自上层世界向底层世界走,空间越来越逼仄。自底层世界向上层流动,空间越来越开阔,可是这种社会阶级分层的跃升则越来越艰难。

《北京折叠》将这种社会分层理论具象化了,作者郝景芳设想出了一个能够折叠的北京:“城市分三层空间。大地的一面是第一空间,五百万人口,生存时间是从清晨六点到第二天清晨六点。空间休眠,大地翻转。翻转后的另一面是第二空间和第三空间。第二空间生活着两千五百万人口,从次日清晨六点到夜晚十点,第三空间生活着五千万人,从十点到清晨六点,然后回到第一空间。时间经过了精心规划和最优分配,小心翼翼隔离,五百万人享用二十四小时,七千五百万人享用另外二十四小时。”当来自第三空间的垃圾工老刀为了丰厚的酬劳,决定替第二空间的秦天向生活在第一空间的女孩依言送情书时,他的历险注定了他将成为三个空间的游历者以及社会分层直观的见证人。他发现第一空间到处是高大的树木和绿色的草坪,其间点缀着一幢幢低矮的别墅。第二空间排列着整洁的写字楼、公寓房。第三空间的标志则是杂乱的大排档和密集的公租楼。他发现自然的日出是这样的令人震撼,而他所生活的第三空间只有长长的黑夜和人造光源,每到快要日出时,他就需要回到自己的胶囊床铺去睡觉,将光明交给另外两个空间的人。

没有人会不向往有着清新空气的花园城市版的第一空间,而情愿摩肩接踵地挤在罐头一样的第三空间。没有人愿意自己有质量的生命被剥夺——生命的六分之一是清醒着如牛马般劳作,其他的时间沉睡不醒。然而,该如何实现从第三空间到第一空间的跃升?《北京折叠》中的提示关乎受教育的程度:在第一空间帮助了老秦的老葛来自于第三空间,他因为考军校当军官,转业后成为第一空间的人。生活在第二空间的秦天在读研究生,希望能够进入第一空间工作,这样才配得上是第一空间居民的依言。老刀之所以留在第三空间当垃圾工是因为高考失败。这也是为什么老刀为了养女糖糖能够上好的幼儿园,不让她输在人生起跑线上,决定铤而走险。

来自底层的父母含辛茹苦,倾家荡产也要让孩子接受良好教育,拥有美好未来。这个桥段听起来是如此熟悉。这不就是在当代社会、在真实的世界里发生的故事吗?作者郝景芳在接受媒体采访的时候也曾经说过,这部小说的创造素材来自于她某一天和出租车司机的对话:他要辛苦赚钱,让孩子上个好的幼儿园,将来过上好生活。《北京折叠》虽然有着关于空间和时间折叠的科幻因素,但从故事来看,它的基本元素都有当代现实性:城市居高不下的房价、被污染的环境、越来越明显的各阶层之间资源配置的不公、教育成本的节节攀升。不需要特别的洞察力,读者就可以看到其中隐含着我们这个时代的焦虑。

《北京折叠》通过空间隐喻对这种焦虑,尤其是阶层区隔,进行了表征。然而,该如何化解阶层间的鸿沟、缓解底层者的焦虑?《北京折叠》没有给出好答案。科幻小说是一种探索未来世界可能的小说亚文类(sub-genre)。对未来的想象可以归为两类。一类带有乌托邦小说的乐观:未来世界为当代社会提供了某种改进的版本,世界会越来越好。另外一类小说带着反乌托邦和反启示录的黑暗:技术进步与人性发展不同步,抑或世界出现某种形式的灾变,人类面临困境。《北京折叠》的色调是灰色的,混杂了反乌托邦性和乌托邦性。在它的反乌托邦图景中,技术的发展降低了固化社会分层的难度,折叠空间从物理角度切断了各阶层流动的可能性,对各阶层的空间设定、定位、管理和规训更为高效,令人无从反抗。通过教育有可能获得层级流动,但它需要额外的资本、天分和运气,成功者凤毛麟角。小说的乌托邦性则体现在它对情感力量的肯定。老刀的跃层之旅开始于同样来自第三空间的彭蠡的鼎力相助,终结于来自第三空间目前生活在第一空间的老葛的掩护支持,加上老刀本人的一点运气,一场历险有惊无险地完成了,变成了一场喜剧:老刀凑齐了幼儿园的赞助费,糖糖有学上了。老刀甚至拿出钱来慷慨地替和房东起争执的两位女孩付了房费。底层的生活没有暗无天日,人与人之间颇有温情,软枷锁背负起来虽然重,却不会磨得人鲜血淋漓,不那么疼。

然而,相比于小说通过折叠空间的方式对社会区隔进行的生动再现和尖锐批判,用温情作为缓解社会矛盾的方案显得既脆弱又空泛。就是这一点温情将人牢牢地钉在了设定的命运上,不愿抗争。社会区隔对人的生命尤其是第三空间的生命的碾压一目了然,人人对这断裂都心知肚明,却也默认它的不可撼动。第一空间和第二空间不会为第三空间伸张正义。大地翻身,第三空间被折叠,住在第三空间的人们如入圈的绵羊,驯顺地躺进胶囊床铺,开始沉睡。老刀充满悬念的偷渡与冒险没有给他的世界带来新的变化,他只是执行了一个摄像机的功能,记录了三个空间的场景,看了一场震撼人心的日出,然后回到了最初的起点,回到第三空间“从胶囊起,至胶囊终”的轮回。社会区隔既然是不可改变的事实,不如寄望于下一代,他们是未来。在老刀躺在胶囊床铺做的温馨梦中,糖糖应该会变成依言,住进第一空间。若是这梦实现不了也没有关系,糖糖总还可以替她的孩子继续梦下去。

节选Excerpts1)
At ten of five in the morning, Lao Dao crossed the busy pedestrian lane on his way to find Peng Li.
After the end of his shift at the waste processing station, Lao Dao had gone home, first to shower and then to change. He was wearing a white shirt and a pair of brown pants—the only decent clothes he owned. The shirt’s cuffs were frayed2), so he rolled them up to his elbows. Lao Dao was forty-eight, single, and long past the age when he still took care of his appearance. As he had no one to pester him about the domestic details, he had simply kept this outfit for years. Every time he wore it, he’d come home afterward, take off the shirt and pants, and fold them up neatly to put away. Working at the waste processing station meant there were few occasions that called for the outfit, save a wedding now and then for a friend’s son or daughter.
Today, however, he was apprehensive about meeting strangers without looking at least somewhat respectable. After five hours at the waste processing station, he also had misgivings about how he smelled.
People who had just gotten off work filled the road. Men and women crowded every street vendor3), picking through local produce and bargaining loudly. Customers packed the plastic tables at the food hawker stalls, which were immersed in the aroma of frying oil. They ate heartily with their faces buried in bowls of hot and sour rice noodles, their heads hidden by clouds of white steam. Other stands featured mountains of jujubes4) and walnuts, and hunks of cured meat swung overhead. This was the busiest hour of the day—work was over, and everyone was hungry and loud.
Lao Dao squeezed through the crowd slowly. A waiter carrying dishes shouted and pushed his way through the throng. Lao Dao followed close behind.
Peng Li lived some ways down the lane. Lao Dao climbed the stairs but Peng wasn’t home. A neighbor said that Peng usually didn’t return until right before market closing time, but she didn’t know exactly when.
Lao Dao became anxious. He glanced down at his watch: Almost 5:00 AM.
He went back downstairs to wait at the entrance of the apartment building. A group of hungry teenagers squatted around him, devouring their food. He recognized two of them because he remembered meeting them a couple of times at Peng Li’s home. Each kid had a plate of chow mein or chow fun, and they shared two dishes family-style. The dishes were a mess while pairs of chopsticks continued to search for elusive, overlooked bits of meat amongst the chopped peppers. Lao Dao sniffed his forearms again to be sure that the stench of garbage was off of him. The noisy, quotidian5) chaos around him assured him with its familiarity.
“Listen, do you know how much they charge for an order of twice-cooked pork over there?” a boy named Li asked.
“Fuck! I just bit into some sand,” a heavyset kid named Ding said while covering his mouth with one hand, which had very dirty fingernails. “We need to get our money back from the vendor!”
Li ignored him. “Three hundred and forty yuan!” said Li. “You hear that? Three forty! For twice-cooked pork! And for boiled beef? Four hundred and twenty!”
“How could the prices be so expensive?” Ding mumbled as he clutched his cheek. “What do they put in there?”
The other two youths weren’t interested in the conversation and concentrated on shoveling food from the plate into the mouth. Li watched them, and his yearning gaze seemed to go through them and focus on something beyond.
Lao Dao’s stomach growled. He quickly averted his eyes, but it was too late. His empty stomach felt like an abyss6) that made his body tremble. It had been a month since he last had a morning meal. He used to spend about a hundred each day on this meal, which translated to three thousand for the month. If he could stick to his plan for a whole year, he’d be able to save enough to afford two months of tuition for Tangtang7)’s kindergarten.
He looked into the distance: The trucks of the city cleaning crew were approaching slowly.
He began to steel himself. If Peng Li didn’t return in time, he would have to go on this journey without consulting him. Although it would make the trip far more difficult and dangerous, time was of the essence and he had to go. The loud chants of the woman next to him hawking her jujube interrupted his thoughts and gave him a headache. The peddlers at the other end of the road began to pack up their wares, and the crowd, like fish in a pond disturbed by a stick, dispersed.


1. 节选部分描写的是第三空间的垃圾工老刀(Lao Dao)去找彭蠡(Peng Li)帮忙,想进入第一空间。彭蠡年轻时曾几次去过那里,较有经验。
2.frayed [freɪd] adj. 磨损的,脱线的
3.vendor [ˈvendə(r)] n. 小贩;摊主;卖主
4.jujube [ˈdʒu:dʒu:b] n. 枣子
5.quotidian [kwəʊˈtɪdiən] adj. 平常的,普通的;日常的
6.abyss [əˈbɪs] n. 深渊
7.Tangtang:糖糖,老刀的养女



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