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I cannot find information anywhere about a short story I read ages ago. It was about a Taiwanese spaceship. A crew member encounters an issue with corrupted code and as he investigates, he figures out that the system was deliberately sabotaged to replace the traditional Chinese characters with simplified characters (commentary on the China/Taiwan issue). Does this sound familiar to anyone?

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    – Null
    Jan 10, 2022 at 19:27
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    Approximately what year was "ages ago?" What language did you read this in? Was it in a magazine, anthology or online?
    – DavidW
    Jan 10, 2022 at 19:29
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1 Answer 1

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This sounds like "Restore the Heart into Love", a short story by John Chu. It was published in Uncanny Magazine in 2015, and the complete text is available there.

It deals with a spaceship, the Byzantium Library, launched into space carrying texts to save them from tyranny and censorship. The protagonist, Max, finds that the library has been sabotaged, and texts written in traditional Chinese characters become replaced by their simplified versions:

In the twentieth century, the mainland Chinese government had reformed the Chinese character set. They struck out portions of some characters, merged multiple characters into one, and reconceived some characters entirely. The changes affected a few thousand characters, some of them common. Taiwan, unsurprisingly, refused to follow along. Neither had millions of overseas Chinese who’d learned everything the old way. From then on, the language had two character sets.

The overwriting process mirrors China's invasion of Taiwan, which happened shortly after the ship launched. Max decides to devote the rest of his life correcting the texts back to their original versions.

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