China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is one that's brilliant on multiple levels, but first, you have to manage your expectations. What do I mean?
This came out in 1990 but it resembles the more modern trend of literary SF in that most of the focus is on characterization and social interactions but in my opinion, it is superior to those because McHugh's wild worldbuilding is detailed, pervasive, and devoted to a fundamental conclusion. Or several conclusions. Interesting ones. In this respect, it's more like Samuel Delany's work.
Stand out features: Post-American revolution where China takes it over. The MC and the focus are on the LGBT community, including a very dystopian view of living conditions, especially in China. Revisionist history, it also has complicated things to say about how history is made that breaks away from most older SF in that it relies on Systems Theory, and best of all, the whole book IS a Study In Systems Theory.
I loved the world-building, and I really got into the main character, himself named China Mountain Zhang, but it's the interwoven nature of the tightly focused life he lives, the one day at a time style of writing that gradually catches hold of you and won't let go.
Like I said, it's more literary SF than anything, but it has a really awesome hard-SF core that satisfies on several additional levels. I definitely recommend this for any classic SF aficionados who like their stories full of character.
View all my reviews