Relaunching a science fiction legend

Hong Kong's most famous space adventurer returns for a 50th anniversary celebration

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 4:16am

A science fiction character who defined adventure for generations of Hongkongers is returning to the public eye nearly a decade after its author wrote the last word about his beloved creation.

Wisely battled aliens and untangled galactic mysteries in a column written by Ni Kuang that first appeared in the Ming Pao newspaper in 1963. His exploits continued through 145 novels, as well as numerous comic books, television series and films. Ni retired the character in 2004, but plans are under way to bring Wisely back for a new audience.

An exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the character will begin its seven-day run at the Book Fair on July 17. A new statue, showing Wisely in suit holding a book, will be on display and may find a permanent home at the Central Library in Causeway Bay after the fair ends.

"It's a big headache to decide how Wisely should look," said Sze Yan-ngai, the founder of publishing company Hong Kong Novel Association, which is taking a role in the relaunch of the character.

Fans will have the chance to see rare handwritten manuscripts dating to the '60s, as well as various book cover designs, newspaper clippings and footage from television dramas.

Many stars have taken on the role of the space explorer over the years, including Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau Tak-wah and Samuel Hui Koon-kit.

"Ni said Sam's appearance was the most fitting," Sze said.

Veteran film producer Raymond Wong Pak-ming has said he would make a new movie based on the character. Among actors being considered are Donnie Yen Ji-dan, Louis Koo Tin-lok and Raymond Lam Fung.

Teenage idol Lam was receiving a lot of support on the internet, Sze said, although he did not think Lam would be the best choice. The final decision on casting is expected to be made during the exhibition's run.

Novel Association also plans to roll out a new book at the fair examining Ni's works over the decades.

The first 100 buyers of the book will receive a special written message from Ni.

Sze plans to introduce a children's version of the Wisely series, in which the main characters would be changed from men to animals.

The books were never translated into English, although there have been Thai versions.