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Reader influence on the creation of transmedia science fiction: a participatory culture perspective


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The term “Participatory Culture” was first put forward by Henry Jenkins in the book Text Poacher with the aim of comparing participation and the bystander (Jenkins, 2015. Partici- patory culture in a networked era: a conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Polity Press, Cambridge, UK). The earliest example is the study of the cultural logic of fan groups (or “fan culture”). When it was later studied more extensively, it took on different meanings. It has greatly influenced novels in the cross-media creative environment, and this has not only helped to expand the imagination and inspiration of authors but has also enriched novel plots. It can also increase audience participation and reading enthusiasm. This paper takes China’s science fiction transmedia as its example to analyze the significance and role of Participatory Culture, and it does this with the intention of helping to provide sug- gestions for the development of transmedia fictions.
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Reader inuence on the creation of transmedia
science ction: a participatory culture perspective
Han Xu 1, Javier Gonzalez Patiño1& José Luis Linaza1
The term Participatory Culturewas rst put forward by Henry Jenkins in the book Text
Poacher with the aim of comparing participation and the bystander (Jenkins, 2015. Partici-
patory culture in a networked era: a conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics.
Polity Press, Cambridge, UK). The earliest example is the study of the cultural logic of fan
groups (or fan culture). When it was later studied more extensively, it took on different
meanings. It has greatly inuenced novels in the cross-media creative environment, and this
has not only helped to expand the imagination and inspiration of authors but has also
enriched novel plots. It can also increase audience participation and reading enthusiasm. This
paper takes Chinas science ction transmedia as its example to analyze the signicance and
role of Participatory Culture, and it does this with the intention of helping to provide sug-
gestions for the development of transmedia ctions. OPEN
1Facultad de Formación de Profesorado Y Educación, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. email:
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Transmedia ctions are stories that are typically dis-
seminated across at least two different media platforms.
The different modes of consumption each contribute
something different to the overall story world (Jenkins, 2008, pp.
9798). Frequently, these kinds of texts evolve into whole fran-
chises, incorporating whole story universes, such as Star Wars
(Jenkins, 2008). In China, web ction, much of which might be
considered transmedia ction, has developed over more than two
decades. Web ction generally refers to works of literature that
are mainly written to be accessed via the Internet. In China,
wǎngwén, which can be literally translated as web literature,is
primarily user-generated ction in various genres, such as science
ction, that is commonly serialized on online platforms where
users write, publish, read, and interact with each other, with
them being typically curated according to genres, subgenres, and
gender orientations(Zhao, 2022).
As noted above, as Chinese online novel websites have evolved,
it has become commonplace for novels to be serialized. More
than this, they are also often played as audiobooks. Many readers
have come to prefer to listen to each serialization of the novel
with friends or family, rather than reading it by themselves (Li,
2016). As a result, many websites enable the consumption of
novels in a fashion more akin to a series of podcasts (Guo, 2022).
On top of this, many of the novels available on the websites have
been adapted into comics, movies, TV series, games, etc., and co-
disseminated across different platforms (Lugg, 2011). It is for this
reason that the texts in this paper are being described as trans-
media ctions, rather than simply network novels.
Over the course of their development, the creative mode of
transmedia ctions has been constantly improved and perfected.
This brand-new mode has contributed unique creative and tex-
tual features to transmedia ctions, of which the role and
embodiment of Participatory Culture in the creation of trans-
media ctions is one of the most important. This is also one of the
important features that distinguish transmedia ctions from
traditional novels. In the book Confronting the Challenges of a
Participatory Culture (2007), Jenkins denes participatory culture
in the following way:
A participatory culture is a culture with relatively low
barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong
support for creating and sharing ones creations, and some
type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the
most experienced is passed along to novices. [] Members
rmly believe that what they give is important, and they can
feel a certain degree of social connection in the process of
This strongly captures the sense in which the contributors to
online science ction websites in Chinareaders and authors
engage with their content.
Chinas transmedia ctions began to develop in the 1990s.
Overseas students initially exchanged and interacted through
social media such as BBS and blogs to express their love of, and
attachment to, the motherland (Xu, 2012). At this time, trans-
media ctions were short in length, and more closely resembled
diaries or essays, so they could not legitimately be called novels.
Alongside this, readers did not participate in the creation of the
novel, with the partial exception of the comment section of the
In 2000, Cai Zhiheng, a writer from Taiwan Province, China,
took the lead in publishing the novel The First Close Contact on
the Internet, which initiated public engagement and participation.
As a result, the creative process of Chinas transmedia ctions
began to change. Serial novels gradually replaced diaries, essays,
short stories, and other stylistic forms, and became the main
component of transmedia ctions. However, at this time, the
function of the novel website was not perfect, as it was only
possible to read online, but cant communicate with the author.
However, as science and technology began to develop around
2004, and novel websites such as Huanjianshumeng, Qidian and
Rongshuxia began to appear, readers gained an opportunity to
participate in the creation of works. At present, there are more
than 120,000 science ction novels serialized on Qidian, and the
number is still increasing. According to the 49th China Internet
Development Statistical Report of the Chinese Academy of Sci-
ences, From 2016 to 2021, the number of authors of science
ction novels on Qidian Chinese website increased by 189% to
515,000; more than 22% of top writers have created science c-
tion works(Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2022).
The readers on websites such as Qidian have, amongst other
things, been able to participate in the creation of works by leaving
messages in the novel comment area, interact with authors, dis-
cuss the plot development in topic groups, and reward authors
with virtual coins. Transmedia ctions is a serial mode, and so
reader participation in the creation of the work will have an
important impact on the works content development. In seeking
to enhance the popularity of their work, authors of transmedia
ctions need to cater to reader opinions, which conceivably gives
them great inuence over authors and the process of creating
transmedia ctions.
The consumers of online science ction of this kind differ from
the consumers of traditional print media in a number of
important ways. Readers of traditional novels can only read works
published on paper, so they cannot have an impact on the novel
during its creation; they are only passive recipients, largely
accepting what they are supplied. Of course, after a work is
published, the readers of traditional novels may not like it and
give it a negative evaluation, but this has no impact on the
published content of the work. Readers of transmedia novels,
however, can actively participate in the creation of the work
during the writing process, and can thus inuence its progress
and even the ending of the whole work through their interaction
with the author. Overall, the consumption behavior of readers of
transmedia novels occurs earlier in the production process, is
more active, more visible, and typically happens at a larger scale
(Boni, 2017). This, in a sense, therefore, enables them to exert
more power over the producers of ction of this kind (Tian and
Adorjan, 2016) and this is reected in the way in which the online
platforms themselves promote(or dont) the authors (Freeman,
2014). An alternative argument, however, would have it that this
model makes authors more accountable and less authoritarian in
their decision-making, with concomitant benets in terms of such
works becoming what might be considered more collective
productions, or, as Jenkins expressed it, the coordinated
authorial design of integrated elements(Jenkins, 2010). Thus, in
line with Jenkinsnotions of participatory culture (Jenkins, 2007),
the subjective position of readers and writers has become more
equalized, with readers becoming more empoweredand con-
dent about the value of their contribution and authors coming
to see themselves more as members of a broad creative com-
munity of practice (Wenger, 1998), with expression(Jenkins,
2009) as its central goal.
The veritable explosion in the online production of ction in
China and the accompanying fan-based phenomena have pro-
voked signicant academic interest. One body of work here has
explored the implications of the boom for the changing quality
and nature of literary output (Huang, 2014; Lu, 2016; Machajek,
2021; Tian, 2019; Feng, 2022). Studies here have notably focused
on the portrayal of men and women in online ction and its
implications for gender relations in China (Chen, 2017; Wang
and Zhao, 2022; Xu and Yang, 2013; Yanjun, 2008; Zhou, 2021).
Some studies have also focused specically on the transmedia
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characteristics of online ction and its relation to other media,
such as games (Inwood, 2014). Other studies have explored the
economic implications of this new form of literary production in
relation to Chinese socialism (He et al., 2022) and, alongside this,
questions have been raised about what it might mean for the
future of print media (Zhu, 2020).
Together with the interest in the production of online ction,
studies of fandom and its social effects have also featured strongly
(Huang, 2022; Sauro, 2017; Yin and Xie, 2021; Zheng, 2016). A
prominent vein in this body of work again relates to how matters
of both gender and eroticism have played out in Chinese online
fan communities (Guo and Evans, 2020; Li, 2022; Madill and
Zhao, 2021; Zhang, 2016). Another concern relates to the effects
of censorship on fandom and how it has generated a rather uid
online media landscape (Luo and Li, 2022; Ren, 2020; Wang and
Ge, 2022; Zheng, 2019). Against this, some work has explored
how online literature fandom can serve as a motivating force for
nationalism in China (Liao et al., 2022). Interestingly for the work
presented here, some studies of fandom have focused on the
potential for fans to ply pressure on online authors and coerce
them to produce particular kinds of novels (Tian and Adorjan,
2016). Against this, some work has explored the extent to which
fans of online ction might be obliged to undertake a form of
data laboras a result of the algorithms platforms are choosing to
use (Yin, 2020).
Within the above literature, a range of studies have looked
more specically at the development of web-based Chinese sci-
ence ction. Many of these have focused on the unique character
of online Chinese science ction (Song, 2013) and how it differs
from Western science ction (Li, 2015). In relation to this, a
particular interest has been taken in how the explosion of web-
based science ction in China has repositioned Chinese science
ction on the world stage (Chau, 2018; Csicsery-Ronay, 2012;
Hartley, 2022). Other work has explored the way in which the
web has played a role in the growing commercialization of science
ction in China (Han, 2022). Within this, certain studies have
looked at the demographic character of the readers of Chinese
web-based science ction (Feng, 2009). Beyond this, some studies
have been concerned with how the move to consuming genres
such as science ction through internet-based media has had an
impact upon more traditional print-based media (Yang, 2010).
Closer to the interests of this paper, some studies have focused
upon the uniquely participatory character of the involvement of
fans in the consumption and production of science ction on the
web in China (Tang et al., 2022; Yang, 2021), including the
impact on this on the reworking of traditional literary tropes (Ni,
2018; Tian, 2015). This has been accompanied by some studies
that see the growing number of readers who become producers of
literature in China, including science ction, to be a concrete
example of what has been termed prosumption (Chao, 2013). At
the same time, confronted with the repurposing of themes in this
literature and its increasingly transmedia characteristics, another
body of work has been concerned with the difculties that
therefore arise with the copyrighting of content (Hickey, 2015),
echoing broader concerns in studies of online ction (Ren and
Montgomery, 2012).
Alongside the above, certain studies have taken an interest in
how readerswider concerns with the nature of the current world,
such as climate change or civil breakdown, maybe having a
shaping inuence upon the kind of science ction being pub-
lished on the web (Imbach, 2021; Li, 2018; Møller-Olsen, 2020;
Tian, 2019). This had led to some authors suggesting that the
participatory character of this kind of online ction has actually
served to reinvigorate literary creativity(Lugg, 2011) and nar-
rative innovation(Feng, 2015) in China. Some of these studies
(e.g., Li, 2018) have noted the transmedia character of much of
the Chinese science ction appearing on the web (Feng, 2015)
and the important role being played by readers within this.
However, these studies have tended to gloss over the nature of the
relationship between authors and readers in this world and the
way participation may have an impact on that relationship over
the course of a storys production.
This paper aims to ll the existing research gap discussed above
by providing a comprehensive examination of the role played by
readers in the generation of Chinese transmedia science ction. In
the process of reading transmedia ctions, readers actively engage
with the author, leaving messages, comments, and participating in
various forms of cultural involvement that directly inuence the
novels creation process. This departure from the traditional
model, where novels were only read after completion by the
author, highlights the active participation of transmedia novel
readers in the creative process and production. To investigate the
nature of this engagement, this paper will draw upon Jenkinss
theory of Participatory Culture, as outlined earlier.
Participatory culture, initially associated with fan culture, has
evolved to encompass a range of connotations through extensive
research. In this process, participants can derive spiritual satis-
faction, and the low barrier to entry provides strong support for
personal creation and sharing. Jenkins (2009) has identied sev-
eral forms of participatory culture that are relevant to our
exploration. These forms include afliations, which involve
membership in online communities centered around specic
types of media, often social media platforms. Expressionsrefer
to participation centered around creative outputs, collaborative
problem solvinginvolves teamwork to resolve issues and com-
plete tasks, and circulationsrelate to shaping the ow of media,
such as podcasting and blogging. Notably, these forms of parti-
cipatory culture resonate with the production of transmedia sci-
ence ction on the web. Consumers of specic science ction
genres can be considered online communities in their own right,
working together with authors to shape plot developments. In
addition, the transmedia nature of web ction consumption, often
through audio formats, aligns with the concept of circulations.
Examining how readers employ teamwork to affect the authors
writing process plays a critical role in exploring the inuence of
readers on the production of transmedia ctions. Analysis of the
collaborative dynamics between authors and readers provides
insights into the extent of reader involvement and its impacts on
the creative aspects of transmedia science ction.
By examining the multifaceted interactions within the partici-
patory culture and its specic forms in the context of transmedia
science ction, this paper attempts to provide a comprehensive
understanding of the readersinuence on novel creation. This
exploration will contribute to the existing knowledge and shed
light on the dynamics between authors and readers in the realm
of Chinese transmedia science ction.
Participatory culture is a concept that has inltrated and
helped to shape a number of inuential academic debates in a
wide variety of different domains, including media studies
(Burgess, 2008; Dena, 2008; Langlois, 2013), journalism (Deuze,
2006), heritage studies (Giaccardi, 2012), HumanComputer
Interaction (Rotman et al. 2011), linguistics (Androutsopoulos,
2013), marketing (Guschwan, 2012), and even public relations
(Tombleson and Wolf, 2017). One domain that has particularly
concerned itself with the concept is education, where the
increasing involvement of young people in participatory cultures
of various kinds is seen to be giving rise to some signicant
challenges for educators (Ondrejka, 2008; Reilly, 2009; Tobias,
2013; Waldron et al., 2018). These include what has been termed
the participation gap, where people have unequal access to the
resources and knowledge around which participatory cultures are
being framed, leading to potential disadvantages in life; the
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transparency problem, which refers to the difculty people may
have with identifying how different media may be shaping their
perceptions and understanding; and, unsurprisingly, ethics,
because people are increasingly taking on public roles through the
participatory production of online media for which they are
wholly unprepared (Jenkins, 2009).
Regardless of the domain, participatory culture can be char-
acterized by certain fundamental features, as identied by Jenkins
(2007): (1) participants can easily express themselves artistically
and engage in the culture; (2) participants who create and share
their creations receive strong support; (3) more experienced
participants typically pass their knowledge on to those with less
experience; (4) participants are deeply invested in the validity and
value of their own contributions; and (5) participation fosters the
participants a sense of social connection among participants.
Within the context of this study, thoroughly exploring the
concept of participatory culture requires the examination of
whether the novel readers, who are the participants in this
research, received strong support.This examination, in turn,
needs to analyze the nature and measure the extent of the support
provided to them during the novel creation process. In addition,
investigating the readerssocial connections (e.g., their commu-
nication, discussion, and evaluation activities) will provide valu-
able insights into the dynamics of their participation and the
impact on cross-media creation.
Due to the vital role of novel readers in cross-media creation,
exploring their behaviors and involvement is critical within the
framework of participatory culture. Readers offer a crucial aspect
of popular culture, and their broad participation has emerged as
one of the most prominent features of transmedia ctions.
This paper focuses specically on popular science ction online
transmedia ctions, all of which were simultaneously made
available across multiple platforms, including novel websites, such
as audio novels, movies, TV series, animations, comics, and
games. The paper uses a Participatory Culture approach to ana-
lyze the inuence of their readers on the authors of such works
when creating them. In doing so, it engages with novel themes
and texts and puts forward new suggestions for the creation of
transmedia ctions.
Ultimately, the argument here is that Chinese transmedia sci-
ence ction not only offers a form of relaxation to young people
(Qin, 2007) that simply constitutes a new literary form (Xu et al.,
2022) but also stands as a new form of communication and
learning. There is a strong sense of participation in transmedia
ctions that exists not only between readers and authors but also
between readers and readers. This interaction helps readers learn
and increases their motivation (Gilardi and Reid, 2011). With its
potential for engagement, communication, and learning, trans-
media science ction can make a unique contribution to both the
evolution of new media and the eld of literary creation. As
illustrated below, it may even be used to enhance readerspopular
cultural competence.
Reader inuence on the theme characteristics of transmedia
The subject matter of transmedia ctions is very wide and
includes oriental fantasy, science ction, history, suspense, love,
and martial arts. Each major category has several specic sub-
categories. This variety of themes did not exist at the beginning,
but instead emerged as a result of emerging reader requirements
during the development of transmedia ctions, as part of a
phenomenon known as genre ction. Zhou Zhixiong (2014), a
Chinese scholar, observes that genre ctions are mainly aimed at
popular novels for entertainment purposes. Novels with the same
theme and similar purport are naturally formed in the
development history of novels, and are classied into one cate-
gory, forming the type of novels.
For example, the large category of oriental fantasy is one of the
earliest themes of Chinas transmedia ctions, and the most
famous representative work in the early days is Xiao DingsZhu
Xianseries is one of the most well-known representative
examples. This type of theme, inspired by Chinese myths and
legends, comes endowed with Chinas characteristics. After its
great success, it was followed by many imitators, and a large
number of transmedia ctions about Chinas myths and legends
were produced in these years. These novels cite different
mythological backgrounds and are divided into small types on the
basis of individual detail, including traditional Xianxia and the
fantasy cultivation of immortals. These small types emerged in
response to different reading needswhile authors must quote
different myths and legends when constructing the writing
background of their novels, they all fall within the broad category
of oriental fantasy.
As the landscape of transmedia ction continues to expand,
readers have shown a growing dissatisfaction with traditional
notions of esthetic quality. They aspire for transmedia ction to
break free from the constraints of myths and legends, and
embrace a broader, more diverse range of works. This shift in
reader expectations has prompted novel authors to seek timely
feedback from readers and embark on innovative approaches.
Simultaneously, many readers themselves have ventured into
creating their own works (Xu et al., 2022). Although some initial
attempts may have resulted in failures, they marked the emer-
gence of a new sub-category known as Oriental Fantasy within
transmedia ction, signifying a fresh beginning. This transition
clearly exemplies the unfolding of a nascent participatory
One notable aspect of this phenomenon is the readersunin-
hibited expression of their artistic viewpoints. Additionally,
readers have gained the condence to engage in their own crea-
tive endeavors and anticipate support from others within the
platform. Remarkably, when viewed through the lens of partici-
patory culture, we observe that the guidanceshaping this tran-
sition stems not only from the authors but also signicantly from
the readers. Although the readers may not possess the same level
of writing expertise as the authors, they are, in a sense, expertsin
online popular culture and possess valuable insights into what
constitutes a goodcontribution. This pivotal moment reshapes
the dynamics of the author-reader relationship, with a substantial
degree of authority in the writing process being delegated to the
Establishing a stronger connection between the arguments
presented and the supporting evidence requires gathering rele-
vant data that substantiates the relationship between the emer-
gence of new sub-categories of transmedia ction, such as
Oriental Fantasy, and the production of fan ction by readers. By
conducting empirical research and analyzing data on reader
engagement and authorreader interactions within these con-
texts, we can provide robust evidence to support the described
developments and their impact on the author-reader relationship.
By thoroughly examining the evolving dynamics of participa-
tory culture within the realm of transmedia ction, this
paper seeks to shed light on the interplay between readers and
authors. Through a combination of empirical evidence and the-
oretical analysis, we aim to provide a comprehensive under-
standing of the transformation occurring in the creation and
reception of transmedia ction, thereby enriching the current
knowledge in this eld.
The main difference between this evolving sub-category and its
counterparts is that, although its framework quotes some tradi-
tional myths and legends, it is a new world that writers have
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drawn on reader opinions to conceive and develop. This new
worldis at the core of the whole novel and is key to attracting
readers. Again, in a spirit of participatory culture, readers con-
stantly put forward opinions about this new worldin the
process of novel creation, which helps the author to constantly
improve the worlds setting, resulting in a novel that is very
popular with readers. Representative works include Tiancantu-
dousFights Break Sphere, WochixihongshisThe Heroic Age, and
MengrushenjisYang Shen, which are all famous transmedia c-
tion in China.
In addition to oriental fantasy novels, transmedia ction with
science ction themes has also emerged as an important repre-
sentative of Chinas transmedia ction. These are the type of
novels that this paper focuses on. We should rst acknowledge
that science ction is not easy to dene. Most scholars tend to
subscribe broadly to the denition rst offered by Darko Suvin
(1988), where he observes that: Science ction is a literary type
or language organization. Its necessary and sufcient condition
lies in the presence and interaction between alienation and cog-
nition. Its main strategy is to replace the imagination framework
of the authors experience environment.
Suvin believes that science ction is an attempt to understand
the living state of human beings from a new perspective in an
unfamiliar world, or as Howell puts it, where reality is made
strangein light of a single fantastic premise(Howell, 1994, p. 3).
Spiegel (2008) expresses this, if anything more broadly, as a
matter of estrangement.
On the basis of Suvins theory, science ction can be roughly
divided into three categories on the basis of different ways of
treating science and technology, specically popular, constructive,
and speculative science ction (Nicholls et al., 1999). Popular
science ction regards the novel as a popular science reading
material and integrates a lot of scientic knowledge into the
novel, with the aim of popularizing it. This genre is not a com-
plete science ction but more closely resembles a popular pub-
lication, and so does not have a large audience.
Constructive science ction is based on existing scientic
knowledge and constructs an unrealnew world. Its objects of
reference are unlikely to exist in the real world at present, but
which could, through future innovations, conceivably exist in the
future, whether as a result of human or robot endeavors. This type
of science ction does not describe individual human beings, but
rather the whole society. It can often satisfy readersfantasies about
the future, and it appeals enormously to them for this reason.
Speculative science ction mainly depicts the individual and
future impacts of future world changes. It can be imagined in the
past, the future, or some distant space, and its key preoccupation
is often the benets or dangers of scientic progress or techno-
logical change for human civilization. The book will engage with
each of these variations of science ction by drawing on a range
of insights, experiences and perspectives that show the inuence
of scientic facts and methods on human beings and the possible
impact of future changes in the world, and in this respect, the
book will therefore effectively function as a warning to the future
world. Contemporary readers will gain some enlightenment about
the world that future generations will inherit.
Other authors have proposed a rather different kind of typology
of science ction. Roberts (2016), for instance, suggests that it has
three basic forms: stories of travel through space (to other worlds,
planets, stars); stories of travel through time (into the past or into
the future); and stories of imaginary technologies (machinery,
robots, computers, cyborgs and cyberculture)(Roberts, 2016). He
also allows that utopian ction may count as a fourth form, though
with quite distinct antecedents in philosophy and social theory.
When Chinas transmedia science ction novels are assessed
from a content perspective, they might generally be seen to be, in
Suvins terms, constructive and speculative. However, transmedia
science ction has tended to absorb certain characteristics from
other genres to supplement its own deciencies and make the
content more vivid. Thus, it is not just science ction, but consists
instead of comprehensive novels avored with oriental fantasy or
western magic colors. Nonetheless, these novels are broadly
recognized by their readers as science ction and are referred to
in those terms. Transmedia science ction was originally based on
famous science ction movies, such as The Matrix and Star Wars.
However, readers began to tire of this form. There are relatively
few famous science ction movies and too much repetition is not
conducive to a positive reading experience. This led to the
addition of other elements, though the core remains science c-
tion. This change was driven partially by readers, who suggested
creating new science ction content that engaged with different
themes such as eschatological crisis, time travel and/or mechan-
ized warfare. Here one can again see the ways in which the
production of transmedia science ction was evolving into a clear
participatory culture. Many authors engaged with these and other
themes, and this quickly established Chinas science ction
transmedia as the most popular novel type among readers.
Representative works from this genre include Lord of the Mys-
teries,Swallowed Star and Spare Me Great Lord. Each one has
risen to the top of qidians annual bestseller list.
Many small novel categories, including campus, military, and
urban love novels, have been absorbed into large categories.
History novels include fantasy and overhead history.
These small classications have gradually been improved by
drawing on reader preferences. This too shows the participatory
nature of reader involvement in the development of themes in
Chinas transmedia ction. Amidst erce competition, only those
novel themes that meet reader reading requirements will perse-
vere and further develop. Authors must therefore cater to readers
preferences when choosing the theme of transmedia ction. A
novel that is popular with readers will create more hits and
subscriptions than niche/unpopular novels. Writers of transmedia
ction who are mainly focused on making prots will prioritize
click and subscription volume. If neither is engaged and
acknowledged, income will be greatly reduced. Reader preferences
can determine the theme of transmedia ction, which is a writing
feature that traditional novels lack.
Undoubtedly, some transmedia ctions authors operate on a
not-for-protbasis. Their style is not aligned with current
mainstream esthetics or reading needs, and so it is difcult for
their work to be popularized among readers of transmedia c-
tions. Their work is basically unable to obtain benets and is even
disregarded for long periods of time.
Reader inuence on the textual characteristics of transmedia
In addition to the theme, the textual features of transmedia
ctions are also very important. In contrast to traditional novels,
transmedia ctions have a low writing threshold and a wide
audience, meaning their text requirements are not as strict as
those of traditional novels. In the case of transmedia ctions, the
click-through rate of free reading chapters is very important,
and only books with a sufciently high click-through rate can
guarantee sufcient subscriptions for the novelspaidreading
chapters. Writers of transmedia ction like the subscription
ratio to be kept at around 100:1 in order to ensure their prot.
Authors who wish to obtain more income from transmedia
ctions must have more subscriptions. If the author wants more
subscriptions, they must have a higher click-through rate.
Transmedia ctions need to be unique in the text, as this will
attract more readers.
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If transmedia ction wants to attract readersattention, it must
have novel content, and this is why novelty has emerged as the
most prominent textual feature of transmedia ction. The novelty
of transmedia ction is rst manifested in the diversity of its
contents. Western magic, oriental fantasy, suspense, and history
are among the different transmedia themes. These themes often
have different esthetic advantages that can be adjusted to specic
reader needs and preferences.
However, science ction novels are slightly different because
they often combine the esthetic features of other subjects with
science ction elements, which forms a brand-new imaginary
space packed with incredible novelty (Liu, 2016). Mecha-type
transmedia science ction includes Armed Storm,Tales of Tea-
chers and Scholars and Seeing and Hearing of Abnormal Crea-
. These novels are classic works that combine science ction
with other elements. Consider the example of Armed Storm,
which is set in a future societys big space age. Nuclear energy,
spacecraft, superconducting equipment, ion equipment, cloning
technology and other cutting-edge science and technology all
make an appearance. The book hero accidentally gets an intelli-
gent mecha and this, in addition to other technological elements,
proves to be his main source of reliance. However, in the process
of his growth, both his own level of promotion and combat
experience are invested with fantasy and magic. For example, the
book refers to China mythology, magic in western mythology and
brings technology and magic together. The Record of Abnormal
Creatures combines science ction with western magic and a
distinctive cast of characters. The hero is a mixed-heritage demon
hunter, and the heroines are a vampire and werewolf. The book
focuses on the struggle between the demon hunters and other
heritage groups. It does not only depict the technological devel-
opment of the demon hunters but also refers to the magical skills
of other heritage groups, and this combination of reality and
fantasy cultivates readersimagination.
Transmedia ctions also have utopian narration characteristics,
which is commonplace throughout Chinese science ction (Song,
2013). This feature is closely related to reality. Robert Scholes
(2011) observes:
The expression of this utopian impulse has been as close to
the real world as possible, but it has not turned into some
conscious utopian conception, nor has it entered the
development track of another utopian plan and realization
that we call.
From this perspective, transmedia science ction does not seek
to establish a science ction world different from the real world;
instead, the author uses science ction imagination to express
dissatisfaction with contemporary real society, on terms as close
as possible to the real world. This feature is shown in some
transmedia science ctions of the upgrade type.
For example, the writer Huishuohuadezhouzi established a
different life circle on earth in the book Spare Me Great Lord.In
this book, people on Earth can improve their force value through
cultivation, and their social status is ranked in accordance with
their individual force value. The higher the force value, the higher
the social status. Although the book is ctional, it strongly
resonates with readers because the ctional scenes share many
similarities with real society. To take a few examples, grades are
divided in accordance with academic achievements in schools;
there is a strict superior-subordinate relationship in government
agencies; and seniority produces a number of advantages in the
company environment. These realities are invoked in the virtual
society, and the parallels resonate with readers. In the comment
area of the novel Spare Me Great Lord, many readers said as
much, which conrms the novel content resonated with readers.
In this ctional world, the hero still has to ght for his family,
compete and cooperate with friends, grow up silently, and nally
experience a happy ending with the heroine. Although this kind
of thinking is somewhat old-fashioned, it is the ideal life that most
readers have pursued their whole lives, and so it is very popular.
The reections engaged in by readers through their discussion of
these kinds of texts also push forward their own understanding of
the interrelationships between the novel of this kind and society.
In this way, readers are actively learning from one another about
their own culture.
Readers of transmedia ctions often substitute themselves for
the book protagonist when reading. This means they dont like
the protagonist to suffer too many hardships; they hope he/she
will be able to turn the corner smoothly when encountering
difculties and will ght back strongly when looked down on by
others. Their desire in these regards is further strengthened when
they experience similar things in their own lives but are unable to
solve them easily. The utopian content of transmedia ctions is
therefore their spiritual sustenance. This is different from the
dystopian themes that often preoccupy traditional science ction.
Transmedia science ction is therefore more predisposed to
describe the heros omnipotence through unrestrained fantasy, as
this will produce an extraordinary transcendence of the authors
personal life and an imaginary reproduction of their real life. This
utopianism of individual narrative is not just an expression of the
authors personal imagination but is also a gurative embodiment
of readerswishes. Science ction transmedia novels most fre-
quently seek to create a social environment that science and
technology could achieve in the future, upgrade real life to a
certain degree, and place the hero in a large background, in a
manner similar to the cultivation game that starts a new story.
This kind of individual narrative utopia routine evokes the deep
love of readers (not just of science ction but also of transmedia
ctions that deploy similar routines). Here too, the online dis-
cussions about these ctions provide readers with an opportunity
to reect on one anothers aspirations and hopes, for themselves
and for society, helping them to develop a more nuanced grasp of
one anothers perspectives. The grounding of these narratives in
recognizable aspects of peoples everyday lives, while recon-
guring them into something betterresonates with the work of
Jameson on utopias and their ultimate purpose (Jameson,
1979,2004,2005,2010). Indeed, the use of highly familiar rou-
tines to accomplish the narrative reinforces this point. As Wegner
(1998) puts it:
Jameson (1987) now suggests that the object of
representationin a Utopian text may never have been
the realm of freedomthat would exist in a radically other
societyRather, Jameson now asks us to consider the
possibility that what the Utopia successfully brings into
view is precisely the machineryconcentrating and
localizing necessity - those structures that enable a social
order to (re)produce itself - so that new forms and spaces of
freedom can come into being in the rst place(Wegner,
1998, p. 70).
We can also see in these traces of the levelling and creative
aspirations of a participatory culture in the making.
Transmedia science ctions are different from traditional sci-
ence ction novels that deal with the relationship between fantasy
and technology. Traditional science ction novels will consciously
limit their imagination, while science ction transmedia ctions
tend to be more arbitrary, which is due to their great freedom on
the network platform. This kind of freewheeling not only reects
the authors ability but also the fact that, in the process of
transmedia ction creation, readers can actively participate in the
creative process by engaging through the network platform. It has
already been noted that Chinas transmedia science ctions are
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generally constructive and speculative. However, there are some
subtle differences between the two types when they deal with the
relationship between fantasy and technology.
Looking now to speculative transmedia science ction, this
kind of ction speculates on the possible impact of changes in
science and technology on human beings and embodies the
authors own thinking about real life in the illusory world. Liu
Yuan (2016) refers to the reections of scholars on The Guest and
notes how they observe the author trickily weaves complex sci-
ence ction stories in the net of philosophical thinking, which
conveys his cognition of Kants ethical concept and his view of the
real world.
This describes the conict between the Federation and Empire
civilizations, and the ensuing scenes are responses to reality. In
his 2009 novel, Mao (2009) writes:
The imperial rulers, regardless of the life of the people at
the bottom, devoted all their efforts to make the strongest
space travel technology and spent countless funds to study
warships and weapons, just to satisfy the vanity of the royal
family. There are federal presidents, houses of parliament,
seven big families, and supreme justices. These upper
classes are all corrupt, but the lives of ordinary people seem
to be good.
These situations broadly approximate to past history and
resonate with readers for this reason. After foreshadowing the
whole books plot and constantly communicating with readers,
the author offers his conclusion on what kind of society that is
best suited to human development. He observes:
Although the corruption at the top of the empire is no
different from the erosion of the seven members of the
Federation, I still prefer a world where everyone in the
Federation has dignity. Even if this dignity is only
supercial, it is better than nothing.
The constructive transmedia science ction is therefore dif-
ferent. Although it constructs a world different from reality, some
assumptions of this world can be traced and are based on modern
technology or reasonable scientic conjecture. This kind of work
requires the author to be highly conscious, to control fantasy in
an appropriate range, and so on. This appropriate range is based
on the relationship between the fantasy world and existing
technology. If it exceeds this range, the novel will become an
oriental fantasy or western fantasy. But if it falls beneath the
bottom line of this range, it will not be sufciently imaginative to
sustain the readersinterest. With regard to thinking about the
universe, traditional science ction is described in accordance
with existing scientic knowledge of human beings. For example,
consider the surpassing of the speed of lighttraditional science
ction avoids this question entirely or instead seeks to explain it
by drawing on the known scientic concept of a wormhole.
However, in the book Dark Blood Age, read by readers across the
world, a different explanation emerges. Here the author uses
philosophical thinking to create concepts such as a zero-
dimension node and rainbow bridge. He (Tianxia, 2010) observes:
Zero dimension has no size or distance. When zero
dimension is connected with the multidimensional material
world, or there is a time axis, zero dimension has meaning,
and human consciousness exists with zero dimension. Also,
a node exists between the smallest scale of time and space,
between existence and nonexistence. When someone
observes it, it has meaning, and the world inside is real.
When you leave it, it doesnt mean anything.
In engaging with these settings, readers can communicate
regardless of the distance limit, invade the consciousness of others
at will, and realize the guration of self-consciousness. This all
serves to take forward their understanding of the culture they
inhabit and the way it operates. The author of Dark Blood Age
observes that consciousness is pinned on the zero-dimensional
space, and it can acquire the ability of superluminal, which is not
superluminal in the material sense, so it conforms to the special
theory of relativity.
Readers can easily identify that these seemingly bizarre set-
tings have a certain philosophical rationality and scientic
logic. Many fans will supplement and improve them in the
comment section, and this will take precedence over the author
answering other peoples questions. This will in turn help to
ensure the booksscienticcredentials. In this kind of context,
readers of science ction transmedia ctions are actively edu-
cating one another about philosophy and science and building
up a greater competence about these matters within their online
The text of transmedia ctions also has the characteristic of
labeling, which is given by readers. The continuous integration of
the themes of transmedia ctions means that it difcult to reect
innovation in novels by solely classifying them on this basis, and
this is why transmedia ctions will use labelsfor auxiliary
classication. Consider the example of Qidian, the largest website
in China. In its science ction novels, there are more than 20
kinds of auxiliary labels, including giants, secret agents, sum-
moning, invincible, and transformation. The function of these
labels is to mark the most common elements of works, and this
can help readers quickly query them. The large number of
transmedia ctions means there are thousands of novels in each
category, even after subject matter classication. In order to
enable readers to quickly nd the novels they want to read and
facilitate their reading; the author chooses or customizes some
tags when uploading works on the network platform. These tags,
in the same way as keywords, can notify readers of the char-
acteristic content of novels in the shortest amount of time and are
a convenient point of reference when querying the types of novel
to read. Of course, from a marketing point of view, certain
categories of novels may be particularly popular for a certain
period of time and, if novels are added with corresponding
category labels during this period, it will attract more readers and
increase the number of paid readings. However, despite this
marketing angle to the tagging practices adopted by websites, it
remains the fact that they allow readers to quickly nd the type of
reading they like so that they do not need to spend too much time
searching. Large categories, such as the science ction genre, have
many smaller category labels. These categories help readers to
know the main elements of a science ction novel in more detail,
such as whether its genre is mecha, doomsday, future world, etc.,
so the primary function of these categories and tags is to facilitate
For example, the transmedia science ction novels Natural
Disaster and Dark Blood Age both consider the doomsday crisis.
In Natural Disaster, after the end of the world, Earth becomes a
game world where human beings gain experience value by
choosing different occupations and ghting with other heritage
groups. When they gradually upgrade to a higher cosmic civili-
zation, they are labeled upgrade.Dark Blood Age is about the
world after the sun disappears, when it is sustained by dark
matter and energy. This novel provides a detailed analysis of the
concepts of space and time interval in the starry sky war and also
provides insight into the advantages and disadvantages of the
space-time deviation and information transmission deviation
produced in this war. The author emphasizes the importance of
technology in the space war. If humans lack technology, they will
be unable to break through the dark matter world and will kill
each other. And this is why it is labeled as technology ow.
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As embodiments of grassroots culture, transmedia ctions have
a low creative threshold which falls below products with higher
artistic value thresholds, such as traditional novels. However,
transmedia ctions can involve more people in an esthetic pursuit
and elevate their individual understanding of popular culture. In
other words, they bring with them an opportunity to learn about
how popular culture operates. In the process of creating trans-
media ctions, readers not only participate in the evaluation
stage, but also directly intervene in the creative process, and even
contribute to interactive writing. They consequently have an
enormous inuence on the text characteristics of transmedia
ctions. The author is no longer the dominant gure in the
construction and development of the text, and indeed the author
and readers come together in a joint enterprise, from which
everyone learns something.
Reader inuence on the creation of transmedia ctions
Reader inuence on the creation of transmedia ctions can be
divided into inuence of readers before and during the creation of
transmedia ctions. In the paper media age, traditional novel
creation was a relatively independent process. Ordinary readers,
as recipients of traditional novels, hardly had any direct impact
on the process of novel creation. It is conceivable that adjust-
ments may be made to the small number of works serialized in
newspapers and magazines on the basis of their broad public
appeal. However, overall reader inuence during this era was
likely to be negligible.
The professional critics and the literary editors of publishing
houses exerted great inuence on traditional novel creation in the
paper media era. The former was entitled to speak on the eva-
luation of literary works in the paper media era, and the latter was
able to decide if literary works were smoothly published. Before
starting the writing process, the author will cater to and adjust
creative content and style in accordance with established literary
criticism at that time and the preferences of publishing houses
editors, and this will ensure the smooth publication of their work.
However, in the online literature era, the appearance of the online
platform establishes a clear communication channel between
ordinary readers and novel writers, and it is more convenient for
readers to participate in the evaluation of works, which greatly
enhances their inuence on the creation of transmedia ctions. In
addition, not all transmedia ctions need to be published as
physical books, and indeed most transmedia ctions are only
published on the network platform, meaning that professional
critics and publishers will have very little inuence on the crea-
tion of transmedia ctions.
Instead, transmedia ction writers now pay more attention to
the opinions of ordinary readers. In seeking to gain more com-
mercial benets, they will cater to the preferences and esthetics of
ordinary readers and create some novels with xed routines. But
this was not the case at the beginning of the rise of transmedia
ctions. As Yang Xinmin (2000) observes:
Because the publication of traditional literature needs to be
restricted by publications and editors, the authors of
transmedia ctions only need to create and publish
according to their own preferences, and they are completely
free to be driven by the authenticIto express freely and
attract the same interests.
At this time, the market of transmedia ctions had not been
perfected, and accordingly, its content mainly expressed the
authors truest feelings and personal ideas.
However, as cultural capital entered transmedia ction web-
sites, transmedia gradually began transform into an industrial
economy, meaning that the early free improvisation was no
longer the basis of the creative process. Transmedia ctions then
gradually became a part of consumer culture and a kind of
cultural good.
In traditional literary creation, the author of a novel pre-
supposes a specic audience before creating a work. But if the
preset readers of traditional novel writers are close friends that
the author tries to locate on the basis of self-expression, the preset
readers of online literature creators become the potential target
customers of their products, which are mainly tailored to custo-
mer needs. In seeking to meet customer needs, many transmedia
ction writers will add a large number of routine elements to their
works, resulting in an increasing number of works with similar
plot settings that are increasingly indistinguishable from each
other. This is an important contributing factor to the low literary
value of transmedia ctions.
JiangnansDragon series clearly demonstrates this. Dragon I,
the rst book gained broad reader attention across various plat-
forms and was awarded high marks on them by reviewers. The
exquisite world outlook setting, the plots ups and downs and a
passionate emotional catharsis drew extensive praise from read-
ers, and the book was even once labeled as Chinas Harry Potter.
Young readers were deeply attracted to the books young
characters and youthful fantasies, and the comment area con-
tained many encouraging reader messages and suggestions from
readers and extensive readerauthor communication. On the
basis of the rst book, the series looked likely to progress and
further develop.
However, as a result of the success of Dragon I, the series
hidden commercial value was recognized and, as a result, a large
amount of commercial capital was invested into it. Since Dragon
II, the commercial elements of the series have gradually increased,
and the plot has begun to resemble a Hollywood commercial lm.
This culminated in Dragon III, which was evenly divided into
three volumes (the upper, middle, and lower) which were, in
much the same way as toothpaste, sold in batches. The accu-
mulation of this commercial content caused reader enthusiasm
for the whole series to decline, and growing reader dissatisfaction
was further exacerbated by delayed plot content. Readers
responded to what they viewed as unreasonable plot settings by
leaving messages in the book review area that expressed the hope
the author would make changes. However, under the pressure of
commercialization, these suggestions were ignored, and many
readers now regarded the series with substantially diminished
expectations. They expressed their disillusionment on a profes-
sional book review website, and the Dragon IV rating plummeted
as a result. (Figs. 1and 2).
Zhu Liyuan (2010), in reecting on the horizon of expecta-
tionthat has become part of modern literary theory, presents it
Readersdirectional expectation of the way a work is
presented before reading and understanding. This expecta-
tion has a relatively denite boundary, which denes the
possible limit of understanding. Expectation has two forms.
One is a narrow horizon of literary expectation formed on
the basis of past esthetic experience (esthetic experience of a
literary type, form, theme, style, and language); the Second,
is a broader horizon of life expectation formed on the basis
of past life experience (life experience of social and
historical life). These two horizons blend with each other
to form a specic reading horizon.
As an important form of online literature, transmedia ctions
have a horizon of expectation, and this concept perfectly
encapsulates and embodies the need for transmedia ctions to
gain knowledge and understanding of readersneeds in advance.
Readers of transmedia ctions are rst and foremost netizens who
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can skillfully use the Internet and have spare time. With regard to
age, they are mainly young students, although other age groups
should also be acknowledged and considered. With regard to
academic qualications they, from an early stage, possessed high
academic qualications, although this has gradually changed over
time. Consider the example of China. The 44th China Internet
Development Report (2019) observes that in 2019, the number of
online literature users has reached 455 million, and the usage rate
of netizens has reached 53.2%, and it is still growing. At present,
more than half of Chinas netizens in China use transmedia c-
tions, and this percentage is still increasing. This has produced
the popularization of the reading interests and expectation hor-
izons of transmedia ctions, as Guo (2009) acknowledges in
observing that online literature is moving fromelite readingto
civilian reading. The horizon of expectations held by readers of
transmedia ction directly inuences novel content in the pre-
creation stage. The science ction transmedia ctions referenced
in this paper look well-placed to become one of Chinas most
popular transmedia ctions because they meet readers
Despite the preceding analysis, it is important not to see the
development of transmedia science ction on the web as being
simply about the production and consumption of cultural com-
modities. Readers, at rst sight, are fans of the novels and, from
the perspective of participatory culture, their behavior conforms
to the denition of fan culture. However, in the process of a
novels creation, the readers are not pure recipients, they can also
export their own cultural context, and this outputcan be
accepted by the author. Thus, although the author is the main
creator of the novel, he is not completely exporting his own
cultural content. In many cases, readerscomments bring the
author new inspiration. Indeed, many authors of cross-media
novels are also readers of other transmedia novels (Xu et al.,
2022). In that case, readers are often inspiring their own creations
when commenting on other works. Whole dialogs evolve between
authors and readers as a novel progresses and authors need to
persuade the readers to their own ideas, especially if the readers
have questioned some of their plots. If an author does not choose
to simply accommodate reader feedback, he must cleverly design
his following output, so as to convince the readers to keep reading
Fig. 1 Dragon I score.
Fig. 2 Dragon IV score. The Fig. 1is the Dragon I score, and the Fig. 2 is the Dragon IV score. The score has obviously decreased in the Fig. 2.
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his work. So, in transmedia science ction novels, there is a high
probability that the roles of readers and authors can be inter-
changed. They inuence each other and, in a sense, achieve each
other. Neither can stand without the other and they are them-
selves participatory creations. This repositioning of the role of
readerand the role of writerin transmedia science ction can
be seen to resonate in a number of ways with Jenkinsnotion of
participatory culture (Jenkins, 2007), with both parties being
involved in a mutual expressiveendeavor where no one party
has absolute control (Jenkins, 2009).
Readers do not only inuence the content of transmedia c-
tions before they are created but also play an important role in the
creation process. In traditional novel creation, creation and eva-
luation are two different stages, with creation, being followed by
evaluation. Readersevaluation will form a series of texts after
they nish, but this will basically not affect the texts created by
authors. Transmedia ctions are different by virtue of the fact
that they are published while being created, with creation and
evaluation appearing as simultaneous parts of the writing process.
Here reader feedback can directly affect the creation process of
works and their content. Different readers actively participate in
the evaluation of work, which results in different expectation
horizons and esthetic experiences being taken into consideration.
In the process of communication between the author and readers,
the author may adjust the creative direction or even modify the
previous text in response to different reader feedback and
expectations. The volatility of popular culture is widely
acknowledged (Beer, 2013). Amongst other things, we can
therefore see in the relationship between authors and readers in
Chinese transmedia science ction elements of readers actively
educating authors as to the current preferences of popular cul-
ture, so that authors can shape their output accordingly. This, too,
resonates with the core precepts of a participatory culture.
The above points cannot be seen to align exactly with the
various forms of reader response theory that are commonly
posited in literary criticism, where the claim is that the meaning
of any text is entirely dependent upon what the reader makes of
it during the reading process and that a text may not be seen to
exist in any meaningful way until a reader has engaged with it
(Bleich, 1988;Fish,1970;Holland,1998;Rosenblatt,1978). It
does, however, resonate to some extent with the notion of
interpretive communitiesin social reader-response theory,
where a shared interpretation can be seen to evolve amongst a
particular community of readers of some specictext(Fish,
1980). There are various more nuanced versions of reader-
response theory, especially in the area of reception esthetics
(Jauss, 1982) and reception theory (Hall, 2003), where the point
is still to acknowledge the active role played by the reader, but
not to see this as entirely open-ended, but rather something that
is shaped by a readers cultural background, experiences, and
esthetic preferences. Generally, the point being made in all of
these theoretical perspectives is that the reader of a text is not
simply passive but rather playing an active and creative role in
how the text is consumed. This paper argues that, in the context
of transmedia science ction, the creative role being played by
the reader reaches new heights, is inherently different from the
consumption of traditional ction, and is helping to recongure
the nature of the relationship between authors and readers.
Readers are now in a position to inuence the esthetic outcomes
of a text while it is being written, rather than simply at the point
where the authorswork upon the text is, to all intents and
purposes, nished. This, of course, can be seen to squarely align
with Jenkinsnotion of participatory culture (Jenkins, 2007),
where the participants are generally able to express themselves
creatively and engage, are widely supported in doing so, and are
able to assert the merit of their own contributions.
The following screenshots show the kinds of feedback authors
receive from their readers via the comments sections on the
websites (Figs. 35):
Writers of transmedia ctions often pay attention to these kinds
of comments from readers. They also interact with their readers in
the communication group and revise the textual content of their
novels on the basis of the feedback they receive. This is the only way
that they can see off the erce competition confronting them in this
publishing domain and ensure their work will remain competitive.
The novel income and average subscription for VIP chapters pro-
vide the most intuitive basis for grasping the quality of transmedia
ction. In interviews with some writers of transmedia ction, one
writer named Han Yu said that when he rst started writing, he
experienced a period of low subscription. At this time, he didntpay
attention to his readersopinions and did not interact with them,
which clearly contributed to his poor performance. He later began to
Fig. 3 The comments sections of the novel Madden Shooting Guard.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
actively interact with readers who left messages in the comments
section, discussing the plots development, and taking reader sug-
gestions into account when writing. This order of engagement
clearly contributed to his later average subscription of more than
1000 chapters which was delivering him a good monthly income
(Fig. 6).
To summarize, readershorizons of expectation and esthetic
experience will directly affect the creation of transmedia ctions
by enabling active reader participation in comment evaluation.
The creative process of transmedia ctions is inseparable from
reader participation. Only those transmedia ctions that allow
readers to actively participate in interaction, evaluation and dis-
cussion can aspire to success in the highly competitive online
literature industry.
In a 2022 interview, Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner of the 2021
Nobel Prize in Literature, in explaining why he writes, noted that
you are ready to write for the readers. At rst, you dont know
who is on the other side. But then you feel things that you see the
necessity to tell.
This is a familiar feeling for transmedia ction writers.
Transmedia ctions are written for readers, who dont know the
author. Through their work, the author expresses what they wish
to express to readers, and readers in turn participate in the
creation process by providing positive evaluation feedback, the
most distinctive feature of transmedia ctions and the embodi-
ment of Participatory Culture in the creation of transmedia c-
tions. The quality and reputation of transmedia ction are all
evaluated by readers, whose inuence on the creation of trans-
media ctions far exceeds that of professional critics and literary
editors. But this will also create a clear problem in the form of a
lack of esthetic accomplishment. After all, most readers are
ordinary people. Although they actively participate in the creation
Fig. 5 The comments sections of the novel Dark Blood Age.
Fig. 4 The comments sections of the novel The Guest.
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of transmedia ctions, they will struggle to also contribute full
literary and artistic value. Accordingly, in seeking to contribute to
the further development of transmedia ctions, professional
critics and literary editors should actively participate in the
creative process and pass on their own experiences to readers and
authors. From a participatory culture perspective, this will not
only guide readers to read but will also provide positive guidance
to the creation of transmedia ctions and improve the literary
and artistic value of transmedia ctions.
As has been argued throughout this paper, fans can sig-
nicantly affect not just the popularity of these kinds of novels,
but also how they are created. A transmedia ction that is par-
ticularly popular with fans, even if its literary value is not high,
will get the attention of website editors, and editors will assign it
additional web resources. For website editors, their criterion for
selecting transmedia novels is whether they meet the tastes of
online readers, rather than the comments of professional critics.
Alongside this, at present, professional critics still dont pay a
great deal of attention to transmedia novels and think that their
literary value is slight. However, these opinions count for little in
the success of transmedia science ction and its reach.
Yet, it remains the case that professional critics could, indeed,
transmedia novels. If professional critics and literary editors
were to play a more active role in the creation of these novels, it
would quite possibly have a knock-on effect by improving
readersliterary literacy and esthetic capacities. For example,
they could actively engage in discussion with readers via the
comments pages for online novels, criticize ways in which the
novels are using more hackneyed and formulaic routines, pro-
pose innovations in article conception, make suggestions
regarding wording, and so on. This would help the readers to
not only participate but learn. Professional critics and literary
editors typically represent the traditional elite in literature, while
the readers and authors of transmedia science ction novels
tend to represent the grassroots. If these two currently disjoint
communities can communicate with one another more actively
in this way, it is very likely that many more novels that can
satisfy both the elite and the grassroots will be born. It may also
between the two, where each comes to understand that there are
things of value to learn from the other.
Received: 21 December 2022; Accepted: 18 May 2023;
1 Respectively, by Skeleton Elves, Fang Xiang, and Yuan Tong.
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Author contributions
Han Xu is the only author involved in writing the manuscript. Professor Javier Gonzalez
Patiño and Professor José Luis Linaza, these two authors revising it critically for
important intellectual content, contributed equally to this work and jointly supervised
this work.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
Ethical approval
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of
the authors.
Informed consent
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of
the authors
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