Invisible Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in

Invisible Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation [Epub] ➤ Invisible Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation ➥ Ken Liu – Buyprobolan50.co.uk Award winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various 'Year's Best' anthologies; so Award winning translator and author Ken Liu Contemporary Chinese ePUB ´ presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various 'Year's Best' anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken's personal favorites Many of the authors collected here with the obvious exception of Liu Cixin belong to the younger Invisible Planets Epub / generation of 'rising stars'In addition three essays at the end of the book explore Chinese science fiction Liu Cixin's essay The Worst of All Possible Universes and The Best of All Possible Earths gives a historical overview of SF in China and situates his own rise to prominence as the premier Chinese author within that context Chen iufan's The Torn Generation gives the view Planets Contemporary Chinese eBook ☆ of a younger generation of authors trying to come to terms with the tumultuous transformations around them Finally Xia Jia who holds the first PhD issued for the study of Chinese SF asks What Makes Chinese Science Fiction ChineseCONTENTS Introduction China DreamsCHEN IUFAN The Year of the Rat The Fish of Lijiang The Flower of ShazuiXIA JIA A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight Tongtong’s Summer Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction eBook Ò Night Journey of the Dragon Horse MA BOYONG The City of SilenceHAO JINGFANG Invisible Planets Folding BeijingTANG FEI Call GirlCHENG JINGBO Grave of the FirefliesLIU CIXIN The Circle Taking Care of God ESSAYS The Worst of All Possible Universes and the Best of All Possible Earths Three Body and Chinese Science Fiction by LIU CIXIN The Torn Generation Chinese Science Fiction in a Culture in Transition by CHEN IUFAN What Makes Chinese Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction eBook Ò Science Fiction Chinese by XIA JIA.


About the Author: Ken Liu

is an American author of speculative fiction Contemporary Chinese ePUB ´ He has won the Nebula Hugo and World Fantasy awards as well as top genre honors in Japan Spain and France among other placesKen's debut novel The Grace of Kings is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty in which engineers play the role of wizards His debut collection The Paper Invisible Planets Epub / Menagerie and Other Stories has been published in than a dozen languages He also wrote the Star Wars novel The Legends of Luke SkywalkerHe has been involved in multiple media adaptations of his work The most recent projects include “The Message” under development by Laps and FilmNation Entertainment; “Good Hunting” adapted as an episode of Netflix's breakout adult animated series Love Death Robots; Planets Contemporary Chinese eBook ☆ and AMC's Pantheon which Craig Silverstein will executive produce adapted from an interconnected series of short stories by KenPrior to becoming a full time writer Ken worked as a software engineer corporate lawyer and litigation consultant Ken freuently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics including futurism cryptocurrency history of technology bookmaking the mathematics of origami and other subjects of his Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction eBook Ò expertiseKen is also the translator for Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem Hao Jingfang's Vagabonds Chen iufan's Waste Tide as well as the editor of Invisible Planets and Broken Stars anthologies of contemporary Chinese science fictionHe lives with his family near Boston Massachusetts.



10 thoughts on “Invisible Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

  1. Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ says:

    45 stars for this collection of Chinese SF short stories Final review first posted on Fantasy Literature Invisible Planets is an interesting and varied anthology of thirteen speculative short fiction stories and three essays by seven contemporary Chinese authors translated into English by Ken Liu As Liu mentions in the Introduction several of these stories have won US awards most notably the 2016 Hugo Award for best novelette given to Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing and have been included in “Year’s Best” anthologies Chinese fantasy and science fiction is richly diverse and this collection amply proves that While there is political commentary in some of these stories it would be as Liu comments doing these works a disservice to assume that they can be reduced to metaphors about Chinese politics These stories offer insights not just into Chinese thought and culture but about life and humanity generally which is what the best science fiction and fantasy does“The Year of the Rat” by Chen iufan Genetically engineered rats rodents of unusual size and intelligence and programmed with certain behaviors like walking upright are exported from China as luxury pets When a mass escape of rats from their farms occurs ― whether by accident or as a political ploy ― and the rats’ genetic limitations on reproduction begin to break down they create a threat to the country Unemployed college students like the narrator are enlisted to hunt and kill the Neorats But the hunting and the killing turn out to be difficult than expected the rats’ intelligence makes them difficult to trap and some of the students begin to uestion the morality of the cause Among other things this story explores how our ideas and perceptions can be manipulated whether by rats love interests or hidden political powers“The Fish of Lijiang” by Chen iufan A workaholic office worker stressed and burned out is placed on a mandatory two week leave and sent to the beautiful historic city of Lijiang now a center for rehabilitation He meets a girl there and they begin spending time together seeing the sights playing drinking games listening to strange Naxi music watching the red fish hover in the waterways struggling against the current to maintain their positions The girl opens the narrator’s eyes to some high tech tricks that are being foisted on unsuspecting workers The class themes in “The Fish of Lijiang” are echoed in the later story Folding Beijing which I felt handled that theme creatively but the repeated symbol of the fish was thought provoking“The Flower of Shazui” by Chen iufan An engineer on the run from a failed criminal scheme at his prior job has made a new life in Shazui Village selling black market augmented reality software and “body films” a thin film applied to people’s bodies that displays words or pictures When Snow Lotus a lovely high class prostitute needs his services one day for a malfunction in her body film he finds out about the troubles in her life and decides to use his high tech skills to assist her This story set in an alternate reality version of the Shenzhen Bay area juxtaposes hard science fiction and high tech with the underside of society and its desperate and very human problems“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” by Xia Jia Ning was left on the steps of a temple as a baby and was picked up and adopted by the ghosts who dwell on Ghost Street a long narrow street inhabited only by the ghosts ― and Ning who loves them Ghost Street is a defunct tourist attraction no tourists come any and the buildings are falling to pieces Gradually it becomes apparent that Ghost Street is a type of Westworld amusement park the souls of real people have been fused into mechanical bodies that mimic some of the characteristics of actual ghosts they cannot stand direct sunlight which burns them irreparably; they can remove their heads and put them back on againBefore she became a ghost Xiao ian tells me she lived a very full life And then her children got sick one after another In order to raise the money to pay the doctors Xiao ian sold herself off in pieces teeth eyes breasts heart liver lungs bone marrow and finally her soul Her soul was sold to Ghost Street where it was sealed inside a female ghost’s body Her children died anywayNing thinks he is the only living being on Ghost Street but it may be that there is something artificial about Ning as well “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” is a lovely bittersweet tale enhanced by Xia Jia’s wonderful imagery This is a story that confused me at first I initially missed the shift from fantasy to science fiction but once I understood the premise I reread it with tremendous pleasure It’s a magical but sad world left behind in society’s unceasing search for newer sensational amusements“Tongtong’s Summer” by Xia Jia Tongtong’s Grandpa who can no longer live on his own moves in with her family Grandpa grumpily resists getting a caretaker so Tongtong’s father decides to try out a prototype robot caregiver which they call Ah Fu One day Tongtong begins conversing with Ah Fu and finds out that the robot is remotely controlled by Wang a university student working in RD at the robot manufacturer’s facilities Grandpa’s temper continues to worsen until Wang comes up with a creative solutionThis is a fairly straightforward tale that sensitively explores the needs and concerns of the elderly in a near future science fictional setting I was especially moved by the author’s note at the end dedicating this story to “all the grandmas and grandpas who each morning can be seen in parks practicing tai chi twirling swords singing opera dancing You made me understand that living with an awareness of the closeness of death is nothing to be afraid of”“Night Journey of the Dragon Horse” by Xia Jia A huge ancient and rusted dragon horse awakens from a long sleep to find a desolate world from which humans have disappeared Where cars once filled the street like a river of steel lush trees now dance in the wind The dragon horse begins a journey to explore this changed world He befriends a chatty bat and they exchange stories as they travel It’s a leisurely tale a melancholy tale a poetic meditation on the effects of passage of time As a bonus Xia Jia provides links for some YouTube videos to an actual robotic dragon horse built by France and gifted to China to commemorate the friendship between their nations which inspired this story“The City of Silence” by Ma Boyong In the year 2046 the State tightly controls the lives of its inhabitants in a polluted stagnant world People’s lives are solitary and rather empty with the Web as the main vehicle for human interaction They are only allowed to use “healthy words” in their communications in person or online Originally a list of forbidden words deemed unhealthy for example “tired” “love” “movement” and all sexual and curse words now it is a list of the words that people are permitted to say or write And the List of Healthy Words gets shorter every day People’s speech is constantly monitored and policed by the stateArvardan applies to use the BBS forums but they don’t contain any interesting speech or ideas than he normally sees However he notices that the documents given him by a woman working in the Department of Web Security contain a hidden message and a dangerous invitationEvidently inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 which is discussed in one of the meetings of the Talking Club that Arvardan joins “The City of Silence” takes the concept of thought police and applies it to a technological age As one of the characters comments “technology is neutral But the progress of technology will cause a free world to become freer and a totalitarian world to become ever repressive” Arvardan and his friends know and can still think the words that the State now deems unhealthy but one wonders what will become of the next generation in Ma Boyong’s nightmarish societyFolding Beijing by Hao Jingfang Lao Dao a humble man who works in a waste processing plant in “Third Space” Beijing sorting recyclable trash finds a bottle with a message offering what for Lao Dao is a fortune to take a message from a man in Second Space to a woman he loves who lives in First Space Travel between the three areas is dangerous and illegal but Lao Dao desperate to earn enough money to pay for his young daughter’s education at a decent school is determined to make the tripAs the story unfolds it becomes apparent that Beijing literally folds and unfolds as well the city has been completely rebuilt with huge sections of ground that turn upside down every 24 hours The inhabitants of each space are put into a drugged sleep while their part of the city folds up and disappears underground This increases Beijing’s ability to support a large population and disturbingly also increases the physical and emotional separation between the haves have nots and “have somes” First Space has by far the lowest population and most of the wealth; it also gets the largest amount of time above ground 24 hours in every 48 while Second Space filled with white collar workers gets 16 hours and the underclass in Third Space only gets 8 hoursThe setting is the real jewel of this science fiction novelette a clear symbol of the economic and social differences between the classes and the lack of fairness in the way economic benefits and even life itself have been parceled out With such a dramatic setting the story itself is far understated than one might expect — even the exciting scenes have a uietness to them and every time the tension ramps up it soon ramps right back down again Rather than pursue a dramatic story Hao Jingfan chose to focus on the domestic details of life As she mentions in her interview with Uncanny Magazine “The characters themselves care about things that touch their daily lives family love power and wealth but a reader can see the fundamental ineuity of their world” It’s a thought provoking story that melds well with the uniue setting and illustrates human nature in action as well as some larger truths A highly recommended readLiu Cixin’s two stories The Circle and Taking Care of God were among those in this anthology that impressed me the most The Circle is set in ancient China where Jing Ke an intellectual and would be assassin of the king of a neighboring dynasty is co opted by King Zheng as an advisor instead King Zheng is entranced by Jing Ke's studies hoping it might open the door to eternal life When Jing Ke explains pi to the king and the difficulties of calculating its digits the king pushes him to do whatever he can to calculate pi much further The answer that Jing Ke comes up with a primitive man powered computer is absolutely fascinating Anyone with an interest in computer programming should read this story “Taking Care of God” uses a science fictional setting to explore the interrelationship between the youthful and the aging both on an individual level and on a macro level as we see here how an entire civilization echoes the aging process There is frustration and some understandable self interest on both ends of the spectrum As bad as the elder abuse gets in some situations it hits hard when one of the Gods explains that they have been treated even worse in the past Their urgent advice to humanity in the end was an interesting and unexpected turn in the narrativeThe rest of the stories in this collection were reviewed by Jana and Kat two of my co reviewers at Fantasy Literature; you can read their insightful reviews right here and I highly recommend doing that I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley Thanks


  2. Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣ Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣ says:

    315There I did it I must say that this was a somewhat hard journey as there are many cultural differences But I am curious now in regard to Chinese sci fi and I'll be reading some in the future 1 The Year of the Rat by Chen uifan ★★★☆☆ In the Year of the Rat you're going to fight rats Now that's funny This was Well I'm not sure what this was It felt like some kind of dystopia where you either have a job or you end up fighting rats It felt like a horror story where you wait for the monster to appear It felt like something political where you doubt anything and everything It was extremely confusing and I'm left feeling uneasy Uneasy because the government can trick you at any point and because science left unchecked can bring nightmares to life 2 The Fish of Lijang by Chen uifan ★★★★☆ This is the only truly free choice I have left This is the second story that hints at lack of freedom Say hello to a workaholic man who is sent by his company to a rehabilitation center He is not allowed a phone or anything else that might tell him the time And this center is completely artificial There he meets a woman and the two hit it But their meeting is not by chance It's actually pretty sad if you ask me Are all the stories in this anthology sad? I hope not 3 The Flower of Shazui by Chen uifan ★★☆☆☆ I have a bit of a problem with all the names They sound so alien to me that sometimes it's hard for me to followThis story is about a man who committed a crime and had to run away He becomes infatuated with a prostitute who is in a relationship with her pimp Trying to help her things get out of handAgain a sad story 4 A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight by Xia Jia ★★★★★ And then her children got sick one after another In order to raise the money to pay the doctors Xiao ian sold herself off in pieces teeth eyes breasts heart liver lungs bone marrow and finally her soul Her soul was sold to Ghost Street where it was sealed inside a female ghost's body Her children died anyway This is by far my favorite story It's that of a boy living on a street full of ghosts robots that are shells for human souls These ghosts were toys for humans but newer toys were invented so Ghost Street was abandonedAgain a sad story but a very interesting one Saying about it would mean spoiling it 5 Tongtong's Summer by Xia Jia ★★★★☆ This is an emotional story about a little girl Tongtong and the summer her grandpa moved in with her family The SF element comes in the form of technology People have invented robots operated by other humans as caretakersWe get to see things from Tongtong's POV Even if she's an innocent child she's uite perceptive and you cannot help getting attached to the characters 6 Night Journey of the Dragon horse by Xia Jia ★★★★☆ 35 starsThese short stories are becoming uite hard to review They are beautifully written And they can be pretty boring at the same time Maybe it's the cultural difference but it's getting harder to finish this anthology with every storyThis one is part SF part post apocalyptic part urban fantasy In a world where humans don't exist any a dragon horse robot and a bat set upon a journey As they reminiscent about the past we get to see glimpses of a world before humans disappeared With details and action this would have been an amazing novelSo far Xia Jia is my favorite Chinese writer 7 The City of Silence by Ma Boyong ★★★★★ This is very 1984ish In fact Orwell's book is much talked about in this short story But instead of Big Brother watching you you have the appropriate authorities listening to your every word The web has become a control tool and people rarely leave their houses Some said that outside the borders of the State there are other Web sites but those were only urban legends As a huge fan of 1984 I loved The City of Silence 8 Invisible Planets by Hao Jingfang ★★★★☆ Yes what you say sounds like the Truth But the world is full of Truths So what if you have a Truth? This short story feels like a discussion between an adult and a child The adult tells stories about different planets and their inhabitants I especially liked the story of planet Amiyachi This planet has two intelligent races one ruling during the winter and one during the summer They don't know about each other and have no clue how if one perished so would the other 9 Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang ★★☆☆☆ The title says it all as the city of Beijing is actually folding think Inception or Doctor Strange There are three spaces inhabited by three social classes that get to take turns to be above ground Needless to say First Space gets to enjoy the fresh air the most as they are the privileged class Second Space consists of white collars while Third Space literally takes care of the trashThe main character comes from the Third Space and the story is pretty uncomfortable It's sad and frustrating to see such discrimination and it's even sadder when you think it's all around us too 10 Call Girl by Tang Fei ★★☆☆☆ I did not understand this one Yes it's about a call girl but as you're led to believe she offers sex for money you discover that's not the truth She offers something else and I cannot understand if she uses some kind of paranormal power or some gadget 11 Grave of the Fireflies by Cheng Jingbo ★★☆☆☆ 245 starsThis is fantasy with a drop of sci fi The stars are dying so mankind is leaving their home planet During this journey Rosamund is born the daughter of the last ueen of men The planet they colonize is ruled by a magician and in time Rosamund meets him while finding out about her mother's pastThis felt rushed As a full novel it would have been amazing Like this it barely begins when it ends 12 The Circle by Liu Cixin ★★★☆☆ At first I found this a little hard to understand I kept thinking about all those people with their flags and what was all about but it all eluded me Then came the twist at the end and I was left speechless That was a great twistPS Read this as my neighbors had their music on maximum volume Common sense is highly overrated 13 Taking Care of God by Liu Cixin ★☆☆☆☆ You know God? In Cixin's vision God is an ancient civilization that made humans only in order to have someone take care of them once they're old and decrepit That's like parents having children only so that someone takes care of them in their old age To say that I didn't like this story is an understatement Respect is earned not assumed And you cannot make somebody take care of youPS My neighbors are still annoying the crap out of me with their music I thank Macmillan TorForge and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review


  3. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    I am a big Ken Liu fans so this collection of collated science fiction that he translated fascinated me I enjoyed the 13 stories and their various perspectives There is a running debate in the intro and the three concluding essays on what Chinese sci fi is or isn't which was eually fascinatingFino's Cixin Liu and other Chinese SciFi and Fantasy ReviewsThe Three Body ProblemThe Dark ForestDeath's EndThe Wandering EarthSupernova EraBall LightningThe Redemption of Time Fan Fiction approved by Cixin LiuInvisible Planets Short Story AnthologyThe Paper Menagerie and Other StoriesThe Grace of KingsThe Wall of Storms


  4. Bradley Bradley says:

    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARCThere were uite a few interesting stories in this volume It isn't considered a Best Of collection by a long shot but it does happen to give us westerners a taste of modern Chinese SF in the form it has now become I won't say that a few were breaking any molds or anything but there are a few things to considerSuch as? Well SF as a whole is generally less respected in China than it is over here with one exception Liu Cixin is followed by the Chinese internet like a wildfire sparking conversations and discussions across the board much to the amazement of the author Even the engineers that had been the butt of his comments have taken up the book to rave about it I personally loved his trilogy the first of which won the Hugo over here Another first by the waySo it's not that big a surprise that curiosity set in among us westerners right? That's the whole purpose of this book To give us all a chance to see what kind of glories are happening in the field over there We even get an excerpt from Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem and an awesome story called Taking Care of God Which is both tongue in cheek and a serious readHis are my favoritesBUT I really shouldn't neglect mentioning the lyrical and metaphor heavy Hard SF tale of survival among the death of stars in Cheng Jingbo's Grave of Fireflies or Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing a tale of social stratification meeting a crazy actual science fictional folding of the cityI also really enjoyed MA Boyong's The City of Silence It's a modern retelling of 1984 but than that it takes the entire concept of language modification to its limits I was told not to read it as a satire and so I didn't and because I read it as a serious tale set in a serious way it freaked me the hell out Truly what a nightmare This one might stay with me a while I was tempted to relegate it to the pile of similar oppressive dystopians but no It took several aspects and ran with it so solidly that I think it deserves plenty of accolades I totally recommend this for curious people I even recommend it for fans of clever SF


  5. Taryn Taryn says:

    Expertly curated anthology of short speculative fiction by Chinese writersI've really enjoyed reading short science fiction lately and Invisible Planets is a fantastic addition to my collection It features thirteen short stories from seven Chinese writers collected and translated by writer Ken Liu Liu is upfront about the book's limitations and he cautions the reader to not draw any broad conclusions from the selections He selected works that were most accessible to a wide audience Liu urges Western readers to abandon their preconceived notions of China and remember these writers are saying something about the globe about all of humanity not just China” I assume a greater knowledge of Chinese history culture and anxieties would add an extra layer of nuance to many of the stories but the themes are resoundingly universal One thing I love about science fiction is that it takes modern day anxieties and pushes them to the next level Sometimes it's easier to see clearly when you're looking at another worldWe are only pawns stones worthless counters in the Great Game All we can see is just the few grids of the board before us All we can do is just follow the gridlines in accordance with the rules of the game Cannon on eighth file to fifth file; Horse on second file to third file As for the meaning behind these moves and when the great hand that hangs over us will plunge down to pluck one of us off nobody knows But when the two players in the game the two sides have concluded their business all sacrifices become justified The Year of the RatThe short stories featured are diverse ranging from surreal fantasies to hard sci fi One is even written like a fairy tale Grave of the Fireflies In a collection with such a variety of styles it's going to be difficult for each story to appeal to every reader I didn't enjoy the surreal stories A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight or Call Girl as much as the traditional selections but I could still appreciate the skill of the writer While the stories are all very different a few themes popped up than once government manipulations corporate exploitation of workers social class divisions aging populations and the impact of storytelling Most of the stories take place Earth The last section includes three essays about Chinese science fiction that serve as historical context and a starting point for analysisMy favorites• The Year of the Rat by Chen uifan Programmed rats have become an important export but everything goes horribly awry when the rats escape their farms College students who can't find jobs are enlisted in a war against these genetically modified creatures Some begin to uestion their duties when they see that the rats have developed signs of intelligence Not everything is as it seems The truth is ever elusive If you like this one you might also enjoy The Green and Unaccounted by Lauren Beukes or the Men Against Fire episode of Black Mirror• Tongtong's Summer by Xia Jia This was the most emotionally affecting one for me Tongtong's grandfather moves in with her family after an injury but he is not the grandfather Tongtong remembers He's depressed about losing his independence and lonely from isolation Tongtong's family buys a robot caretaker and eventually the technology is harnessed so that those that are homebound can actively participate in society My favorite part of this story was Tongtongs's sweet relationship with her grandfather and her evolving understanding of the aging process Xia Jia dedicates this short story to her own grandfather in a touching author's note If you like this story about the positive aspects of technology you might also enjoy the short story Saying Goodbye to Wang by Alexander Weinstein• The City Of Silence by Ma Boyong This one takes Orwell's 1984 to a modern level The author of 1984 predicted the progress of totalitarianism but could not predict the progress of technology” In this oppressive society the citizens are constantly pushing the boundaries of language and the government's surveillance technology is always improving The constant battle between the opposing groups is causing the list of healthy words to shrink to the point where communication is becoming impossible Arvardan is exhausted with his monotonous life He reuests access to the BBS forums in hopes of freer communication but the online situation is even worse He begins searching for clues of other's discontent and the journey leads him in unexpected directionsThe real key isn’t about whether what I say is true but whether you believe it From start to end the direction of narrative is not guided by the tongue but by the ear Invisible Planets• Invisible Planets by Hao Jingfang The narrator describe their travels to far flung planets across the vast universe and the diverse alien cultures they encountered Are the narrator's stories true? Does it matter if they are? Even though these alien civilizations seemed strange on the surface I was reminded of the many different people who make up human civilization My favorite society was Amiyachi and the Aihuowu who live on the same planet but belong to entirely separate worlds Both cultures are unable to see the other one as intelligent beings because they're only able to contextualize the other within the framework of their own experiences When I am done telling you these stories when you’re done listening to these stories I am no longer I and you are no longer you In this afternoon we briefly merged into one After this you will always carry a bit of me and I will always carry a bit of you even if we both forget this conversation Invisible Planets • Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang Winner at the 2016 Hugo Awards for Best Novelette A fascinating story about a father's love and economic ineuality Beijing is a complex folding city with a portion of the city always hidden underground There are three separate spaces divided by social class The space a citizen lives in determines the amount of time they have to live their lives; First Space gets 24 hours while the densely populated Second Space and Third Space get twelve hours each A Third Space waste worker decides to go on a dangerous and illegal journey across the other two areas in order to earn money for his daughter to attend a decent school Will he be able to complete his task while escaping detection?Pretending that the fake is real only makes the real seem fake A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight• Taking Care of God by Liu Cixin Three years ago 21530 spaceships descended to Earth Millions of elderly people appeared in cities around the world all repeating the same phrase We are God Please considering that we created the world would you give us a bit of food? Earth's citizens were initially happy to help their creators but the resentment builds as the Gods become seen as burdens on their new families Why have the Gods come back to Earth?Time flows like a river halting for no one There’s nothing in this world that can outlast time itself Night Journey of the Dragon HorseInvisible Planets is a great introduction to contemporary Chinese science fiction and I'm grateful to Ken Liu for translating these fantastic stories This book exposed me to many writers that I wouldn't have been able to read otherwiseSo what's next on my reading list for when I'm in a science fiction mood? I've added translator Ken Liu's collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories to my list I recently saw the movie Arrival which is based on the short story Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang I couldn't help but think of this collection as I watched it especially Taking Care of God Chiang's short story collection Stories of Your Life is on my priority to read list now For collections of short science fiction you might also like Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein Slipping by Lauren Beukes and Some Possible Solutions by Helen PhillipsCheck out this video of dragon horse in action Such a magnificent machineI received this book for free from Netgalley and Macmillan TorForge This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review This book is available for purchase now


  6. Althea Ann Althea Ann says:

    Introduction Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Ken Liu Chen iufan The Year of the RatIn an economically depressed near future college graduates are recruited to military platoons in order to fight genetically modified rats Intended as pets for export the creatures are invasive but show disturbing signs of intelligence Although rat catching is less than glamorous the military trappings of the outfit go to the heads of some members of the platoon and fellow humans may end up being the real danger Nicely done Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH goes MilSF? Chen iufan The Fish of LijiangMelancholy and dystopic New labor laws reuire that an overworked and exhausted employee take a mandatory rehabilitation break in the famous historic city of Lijiang At first a bit of RR doesn't seem like a bad thing especially when he meets an attractive friendly woman in town But Lijiang's been retooled into a paradise of artifice and its saccharin flavor has a bitter undertone There are unpleasant revelation about why so many workers are in need of rehab and nothing is uite what it seems Chen iufan The Flower of ShazuiSet in a near future Shenzhen the story follows a man who's tormented by the secrets of his past He suspects that his 'clever' plan to get ahead may not have worked out in ways than one Seeking to atone he comes up with yet another well intentioned but perhaps overly complex scheme After reading these three stories by Chen iufan I'm definitely interested in reading the author's novel which Ken Liu is currently translating Xia Jia A Hundred Ghosts Parade TonightWeird and elegiac A child is cared for in an abandoned tourist attraction peopled by robotic 'ghosts' containing the consciousnesses of people who had to sell themselves into this strange commercial servitude Xia Jia Tongtong’s SummerPreviously read in 'Upgraded'Then I gave it three stars and wroteA young girl's grandfather comes home from the hospital accompanied by a new experimental home health care robot The device is not actually a true robot but a remote operated device that allows a distant care worker to be 'on call' as needed The device ends up revolutionizing society but not exactly in the way that was expected The main idea here is a sweet but idealistic call to respect the elderly and to develop technology that will make them able to contribute to society in a meaningful way Unfortunately the 'call to arms' overwhelms the actual story and at times it crosses a line into feeling like a piece of government propagandaUpon re reading I'm downgrading to two stars not because of the 'propaganda' aspect but just because the sentimental story is a thin veneer over the ideas about the future of elder care It's not that the ideas are bad it's just not very successful as a good work of fiction Xia Jia Night Journey of the Dragon Horse A decaying cybernetic beast walks slowly and aimlessly through a post apocalyptic landscape devoid of humans On its journey it meets a talking bat that's fond of poetry More of a mood piece than a story; it didn't really do it for me Ma Boyong The City of SilenceAn homage to 1984 which attempts to show how the technology that's been developed since Orwell's day might change and exacerbate the repressive techniues of an oppressive state Technology is neutral But the process of technology will cause a free world to become ever freer and a totalitarian world to become ever repressiveIt has some interesting thoughts on how individuals while despising the system can simultaneously be agents of that system But overall I'm not sure how much it really has to add to Orwell who did it wellStill this is a genre that I love Hao Jingfang Invisible PlanetsAn homage to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities Much like the original the text describes different cultures and interactions to illuminate the vagaries of human nature each supposedly illustrative of a different planet The anecdotes are intercut with dialogue between the storyteller and the listener commenting on the nature and meaning of narrative It's well done both imaginative and thoughtful but it's not the first time I've seen it done Hao Jingfang Folding BeijingPreviously read in Rich Horton's Year's BestVisually the shifting skyscrapers of 'Folding Beijing' brought to mind the film 'Dark City' but the mechanics of this scenario are all too human and underlaid with a cynical observation that they would do this if they could Europe has taken one approach to the 'problem' of automation advances making menial jobs practically obsolescent Here Hao Jingfang theorizes what China might do This future city a technological marvel has a strict caste system which the reader sees through the eyes of one waste worker who's willing to flout the law in order to try to earn some money to better his adopted daughter's future As we gain insight into the perspectives of people in each of three very different Beijings the parallels with our real life society become clear And oh it's also a heart wrenching tale vividly illustrating how the scale of people's dreams can differ exponentially and how the few at the top sit comfortably on a throne crafted from the misery of the manyThe one thing though that made me feel positive about this story is that I couldn't help seeing it as a seuel to Kelly Robson's Two Year Man I know none of the details match but it does have the lowly worker adopting a foundling and well the outcome here is undoubtedly better that it is bound to have been in Robson's storyI also think that any fans of Paolo Bacigalupi's short fiction especially perhaps Yellow Card Man will particularly enjoy Hao Jingfang's offering Tang Fei Call GirlPreviously read in Rich Horton's Year's BestA schoolgirl moonlights as is it as a prostitute? Or as something much rarer and strange? I hope to be able to read by this author Cheng Jingbo Grave of the FirefliesBeautiful writing Far future sci fi meets fairytale in this story of a refugee girl who along with her mother the ueen and all of her people flees a region of dying stars through an 'asteroid gate' known as the 'Door Into Summer'I would love to see from this author Liu Cixin The CirclePreviously read in Carbide Tipped Pens Re read as this was my favorite part of 'Three Body ProblemCredited as an 'adaptation' of an excerpt from Liu Cixin's recently translated 'The Three Body Problem' I recently read the novel so I was slightly taken aback when after a different set up I suddenly found myself re reading some very very familiar passagesThe author is enad of the idea of creating a non electronic 'computer' using binary rules After all it's just math and not technically dependent on technology The iteration of the idea found here may actually be stronger than the one in the novel Liu Cixin Taking Care of GodOriginal Science fiction retreads a lot of ideas repeatedly but this is a variation I haven't encountered before Earth is re visited by our creators an alien race who seeded our planet with life Now their civilization is in decline; their long lived individuals senescent Their mighty deeds are in the past; most of their knowledge forgotten And they expect humanity their children to take care of them in their old age The story is by turns funny poignant and prescriptive as the analogy of duty to ones elders plays out More than any other selection in this book I found this one to be distinctly culturally Chinese EssaysThe brief essays included at the end of the volume give three of the authors the opportunity to air their thoughts on Chinese Science Fiction its characteristics and its place in the world and world literature Interesting perspectives The Worst of All Possible Universes and the Best of All Possible Earths Three Body and Chinese Science Fiction Liu Cixin The Torn Generation Chinese Science Fiction in a Culture in Transition Chen iufan What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese? Xia JiaMany thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the opportunity to read As always my opinions are independent and unaffected by the source of the book


  7. Manuel Antão Manuel Antão says:

    If you're into stuff like this you can read the full reviewDystopian Roads to Utopia Invisible Planets Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation by Ken LiuOk Star Trek has world peace one world government and a religious monetary and hunger free world to boot woo hoo But and it's a bit of a big but it doesn't happen without a third world war massive depopulation some very handy gadgets and a lot of help from some friendly Vulcans who are due to pop in to oversee the transformation of human society in 2063 So that's something to look forward to at least Yay The Vulcany bit not the Armageddony bit which tbh is likely to be a bit of a downerHao Jingfang's Folding Beijing a tale of social stratification is the best of the lot


  8. Carly Carly says:

    I haven't read all that much Chinese speculative fiction so when I saw Invisible Planets on Netgalley I jumped at the chance to read it I'm always incredulous by any statements attempting to summarize the imaginations of an entire country so I was relieved when Ken Liu explicitly stated in the forward that he had no illusions that the collection is somehow a full representation of all of Chinese scifi As he says this is a collection of stories from seven contemporary authors and while the stories speak to the mood of the societies they write about Science fiction is the literature of dreams and texts concerning dreams always say something about the dreamer the dream interpreter and the audience Chen iufan the first author of the collection is also probably my favourite His stories are an effortless mixture of humor and horror absurdity and realism The Year of the Rat which involves a dystopian society overrun by genetically engineered Neorats™ is full of vivid characters and dramatic twists The Fish of Lijiang is packed with dramatic metaphor a cynical tale about time ambition and lost opportunities My favourite uote I have a car a house everything a man should have including erectile dysfunction and insomnia If happiness and time are the two axes of a graph then I'm afraid the curve of my life has already passed the apex and is on its inexorable way down to the bottom The Flower of Shazui is eually forceful and gorgeous and even lyrical My favourite uote Sin is like wine The it is hidden from sunlight the it ferments growing potent Incisive and brilliant I also loved his characterization of the literary role of scifi In my view 'what if' is at the heart of science fiction Starting with reality itself the writer applies plausible and logically consistent conditions to play out a thought experiment pushing the characters and plot toward an imagined hyperreality that evokes a sense of wonder and estrangementAs a contrast to Chen iufan's cynical elouence Xia Jia's stories feel mythopoeic to me rather in the style of Charles de Lint or Emma Bull A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight felt particularly imbued with myth and folklore to the point where I was uite sure I was missing most of the references Tongtong's Summer was something of a contrast to the dreamlike Ghosts a sweet optimistic to the point of impracticality story of home robots and the way technology could improve the lives of the elderly and infirm Night Journey of the Dragon Horse was probably my favourite story by Xia Jia a gorgeous and haunting vision of a post human worldOnly one story from Ma Boyong is included in the collection but it's also one of the most uniue I found The City of Silence to be a pretty straightforward satire about oppression but it's also eminently uotable Some of my favouritesOnly the bookmarks menu which could not be edited contained the addresses for a few Web sites The reason for this was simple all these Web sites were healthy and positive If other Web sites had the same contents as these then logically having access to these Web sites alone was sufficient On the other hand if other sites had different content then logically those other sites must be unhealthy and vulgar and should not be accessed Shielded was a technical term A shielded word was forbidden in writing or in speech Ironically shielded itself was a shielded word Better and worse were variables but his life was a constant the value of which was repressionAll in all The City of Silence is a worthy successor to 1984 with all the infuriatingly circular black comedy of Catch 22After The City of Silence the tone of the collection drifted from incisive satire to lyrical metaphor and creative flights of fancy Hao Jingfang's stories are wildly imaginative from Invisible Planets' vivid vignettes of life on a series of bizarre planets to Folding Beijing's portrait of a city that can fold and reform like origami Hao Jingfang uses these gorgeously imaginative backdrops to explore themes such as prejudice time and identity and truth He didn't know what was the point of knowing the truth If he could see some things clearly but was still powerless to change them what good did that do? Tang Fei's Call Girl is a short tale but memorable for its gorgeously poetic language for example Sunlight slices across her shoulders like a knife blade Unfortunately I think I was missing the cultural background to truly understand Cheng Jingbo's Grave of the Fireflies The story is packed with symbolism and allusion melding together imagery of magical castles frontier pioneers magical castles deep space red giants and extinguished stars The collection ends with two stories by the renowned Liu Cixin but I found his stories a bit wanting Almost the entire plot of The Circle including the primary conceit of a CPU made out of humans also appears in The Three Body Problem I uite enjoyed the conceit of Taking Care of God where humans finally meet their makers not as divine beings but as elderly beings who need assistance His nonfiction essay certainly contains no false modesty as he pretty much claims that his book was singlehandedly responsible for the renaissance of Chinese scifi The collection finishes up with several of the authors' nonfiction essays While I appreciate how Ken Liu refuses to try to characterize all of Chinese science fiction there are some common themes woven throughout As many of the essays note the attitudes of science fiction can characterize overarching feelings about technology and society's futureOne such theme expressed by many of the authors in the nonfiction essays about scifi included at the end is that of the Chinese Dream which Xia Jia defines as the revival of the Chinese nation in the modern era Chen iufan expresses its influence on society as follows Between the feeling of individual failure and the conspicuous display of national prosperity lies an unbridgeable chasm The result is a division of the population into two extremes one side rebels against the government reflexively sometimes without knowing what its 'cause' is and trusts nothing it says; the other side retreats into nationalism to give itself the sense of mastering its own fate Overall Invisible Cities is a gorgeous collection well worth reading for anyone curious about Chinese scifi or just looking for some great new contemporary authors I received this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher Tor Books in exchange for my honest review uotes are taken from an advanced reader copy and while they may not reflect the final phrasing I believe they speak to the spirit of the collection as a whole Cross posted on BookLikes


  9. Matthew Quann Matthew Quann says:

    I was really looking forward to reading Invisible Planets Ken Liu's first curated Chinese SF anthology and was not at all disappointed Liu opens the collection with the disclaimer that Chinese SF should not be thought of as speaking to only Chinese culture but that it is an important piece of modern SF as a whole It's hard to argue with the man when novels like Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy have blown up in the SF world Structured around seven Chinese SF writers Invisible Planets orbits many touchstones of classic and modern SF while simultaneously introducing exciting and novel voices I loved the introduction to Chen iufan's writing through three near future short stories that serve as a pleasant nudge in the direction of Liu's recent translation of his novel Waste Tide Ma Boyong's City of Silence works as a tribute to 1984 but is also an unsettling window into a dystopian future of censorship I found myself pondering Boyong's story as both an allegory for state sponsored censorship as well as social censorship we impose on one another on the webHad Jingfang's Folding Beijing was my personal favourite of the collection Jingfang's story marries a high concept with an emotionally resonant character arc and pulls it all together with a reflection on class hierarchy The only stories that bugged me were Cheng Jingbo's Grave of Fireflies and Cixin Liu's The Circle The former because it was painfully obtuse from the get go and failed to justify its opacity The later because it is an adaptation of a passage from The Three Body Problem than it is a new Cixin Liu story The collection closes with three essays by authors who contributed to the collection Though two provide some basic overviews of Chinese SF throughout history Xia Jia's What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese? turns the lens on the artistic choices made by Western SF comparing them to Chinese SF's evolving aims I enjoyed reading what the authors made of division lines between Western and Eastern SF but it is also cool to hear that there's a lot of cross pollination across the oceanThis is a very solid SF short story collection For me it scratched a bit of that nagging itch that's been leftover since I finished off Remembrance of Earth's Past while also pointing me towards some other novels and collections that might piue my interest Well worth any SF fan's time


  10. Claudia Claudia says:

    Well science fiction for me means space future mind blowing technology new ideas interstellar travel you get the picture And in this collection just few have some of that; barely Half of them are on the magical realism side But it is an interesting insight in other culture’s view on sci fi I also liked that each of the seven writers were presented very nicely by Ken LiuHere's a few words about the ones I enjoyed; as for the others they are definitely too surrealist for my tasteThe Year of the Rat by Chen uifan an unnerving allegory about war its futility and conseuences 45The Fish of Lijiang also by Chen uifan how stress affects us our perceptions and life in general in a world of workaholics and driven only by ambition 45Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia a story about old age As the author said it is dedicated to her grandfather Touching but I found it too depressing 35The City of Silence by Ma Boyong – a dystopian universe in which freedom of everything was completely lost Really powerful 55Invisible Planets by Hao Jingfang – Calvino’s Invisible Cities in another interpretation I did not like Calvino’s Cities nor Hao’s Planets but I did liked one fragment exactly my thoughts ”You know something? The real key isn’t about whether what I say is true but whether you believe it From start to end the direction of narrative is not guided by the tongue but by the ear” Folding Beijing also by Hao Jingfang Hugo Award for Best Novelette 2016; can be found also here – the love of a father knows no boundaries 45The Circle by Liu Cixin – adaptation of the human computer chapter from The Three Body Problem As it is taken out of the context here seems like a historical fiction story but you’ll get a glimpse on how sci fi of ideas truly is 45Taking Care of God also by Liu Cixin – I read it previously in his collection of short stories “The Wandering Earth Classic Science Fiction Collection” 55The three essays at the end are a real addition to this collection for they bring forward a lot of interesting info on China's sci fi literatureOne thing stands out though even for the ones I did not like the writing is exuisite But not knowing Chinese or any other works by those authors I can’t say if it’s really their merit or Ken Liu’s translation However it may not be on everyone's taste but surely is worth reading


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