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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in TranslationInvisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in Translation by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

There were quite 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 consider.

Such 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 way.

So 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 read.)

His are my favorites.

BUT, 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 city.

I also really enjoyed MA Boyong's "The City of Silence". It's a modern retelling of 1984, but more 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. :)

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