Invisible Planets

Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation , #1

Hardcover, 383 pages

English language

Published Nov. 1, 2016 by Tor Books.

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4 stars (10 reviews)

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; 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 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 Qiufan's The Torn Generation gives the view of a younger generation of authors trying to come to terms with the tumultuous transformations around them. Finally, Xia Jia, who holds the …

1 edition

reviewed Invisible Planets by Cixin Liu (Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, #1)

Fascinating anthology of Chinese SFF in translation

3 stars

A better than average anthology of SFF by writers from China. The editor and translator, Ken Liu, is careful to say that the anthology is not meant to represent the best SFF from China, but to showcase some stories and give readers a taste of the kind of SFF being written in China. The anthology ends with some essays by the writers on some aspects of Chinese SF.

  • “The Year of the Rat” by Chen Qiufan: without jobs, university graduates have to go for the only work available: the Rodent-Control Force, troops tasked with the job of killing genetically engineered rats meant for the market in the West that had escaped. As they try to meet their quota of rats (to be reassigned to other jobs), it is gradually revealed that the rats are not all they seem to be, and neither are the people catching them.

  • “The Fish of …

reviewed Invisible Planets by Cixin Liu (Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, #1)

Review of 'Invisible Planets' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is a collection of Chinese short science fiction stories, translated to English by Ken Liu. It's not a intended to be a "best of" but more of a representative look at contemporary SF. As a western reader I found some of the stories a little hard to identify with, as I think I lacked some of the cultural background to understand the full contexts of some of them. But they were nonetheless an interesting read. Overall the tone of almost all of them is quite dark and often rather Orwellian; there's a strong recurring feeling of anxiety and distrust of technology and the future (one of the essays at the end actually discusses this directly). I also felt there was quite a lot of subtle (and sometimes overt) misogyny; really no representations at all of a future where women are equal, and generally the women are either described as …

reviewed Invisible Planets by Cixin Liu (Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, #1)

Review of 'Invisible planets' on 'LibraryThing'

5 stars

An essential introduction to the rather distinctive body of scifi coming out of modern China. It's hard to pin down exactly what the characteristics of "Chinese Science Fiction" are--in fact one of the essays at the end labours that point somewhat--but much more fruitful to show than tell, which this collection does by covering a very wide range. There are stories that are obviously mocking the Party, openly enough that I'm surprised they were allowed to be published, and stories that feel much less political but go deep into technological fantasy or just straight fantasy worlds. And in between there are some social commentary stories that bite just as hard in the US as they must in China.

As with any diverse collection I didn't love every single story, but there are so many that I did that I'm already looking forward to getting my hands on the next volume …

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  • Science fiction, Chinese--Translations into English.
  • Short stories, Chinese--Translations into English.
  • Chinese fiction--20th century--Translations into English.