China’s Top Sci-Fi Author Is… Stephen King?

A Chinese writer’s submission for a prestigious domestic award was found to have copied the entire plot from a decades-old story by the prominent American author.

A prestigious Chinese science fiction magazine has apologized after publishing a literature prize submission piece it later discovered was a “full-text copy” of a short story by renowned American author Stephen King.

“Masterless” by design student Li Qingzhi appeared in the February issue of Science Fiction World, one of several submissions to be considered for China’s most prestigious science fiction prize, the Galaxy Award. However, in a social media post Tuesday, the magazine said “Masterless” had copied the plot of “Trucks,” a short story from King’s 1978 anthology “Night Shift.”

The original tale follows a group of strangers at a truck stop diner who must try to survive after trucks in the vicinity become possessed by an evil force and start killing all humans in sight. “Masterless” follows the same formula but is set at a highway rest area in China, and buses as well as trucks are responsible for the bloody chaos.

“We’ve canceled payment for this piece as well as its eligibility for the award,” read the statement from Science Fiction World. “This author and all of his submissions have been rejected.”

Online sleuths have since discovered that Li is a repeat offender: Not only were many of his previous works also accused of plagiarism, but several were found to have ripped off stories from the same anthology by King.

Accusations of plagiarism in the arts — be they in TV dramas, online novels, or video games — frequently make headlines in China. In December, over 100 entertainment industry professionals signed a petition calling for two celebrity writer-directors to be blacklisted over years of plagiarism allegations. Weeks later, regulators pulled the most recent film by one of the two men from cinemas, a move some in the industry interpreted as a warning to would-be intellectual property thieves. 

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.

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