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The City Trilogy (Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan) Hardcover – May 15, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The first English translation of leading Taiwanese sf writer Chang's work is a trilogy densely woven out of history, politics, and philosophy and set in a recognizable but quite alien world. The prologue to Five Jade Disks introduces the bronze statue that towers over Sunlon City even after imperialist Shan invaders destroy the place. In Five Jade Disks, the Huhui people rebel against Shan occupation forces. In Defenders of the Dragon City, the Shan use Huhui factions--feathered people, serpent people, and leopard people--in an attempt to regain the city. Several years later, in Tale of a Feather, Sunlon City is finally brought to blazing ruin by the machinations of a petty power-hungry dictator, Mayor Ma. The historical depth with which Chang endows the world he creates reflects great comprehension of our world. In the manner of the very best sf, Chang's makes readers think about ideas of great importance to the world they inhabit by posing them in the context of a well-realized, intricately detailed alien society. His Sunlon City, with its masses as well as the almost allegorical leading figures in the action, is virtually a rounded character itself, which, while it facilitates Chang's historicizing, makes for gripping reading. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Filled with its own legendry, philosophy, poetry, and social mores, the world created by Chang, considered to be Taiwan's 'father of science fiction,' resounds with grace and style.

(Library Journal)

[Chang] is nothing short of awe-inspiring... [His] tone is pitch-perfect from the start, sketching out the mythic outlines of HuHui's history with magisterial grace while later delivering an action-filled epic that toys with the truly philosophical and all the while infuses the text with a loopy humor... A true original, like an epic of Chinese history retold with Tolkien-esque grandeur and yet wholly unique: a masterpiece.

(Kirkus Reviews (*Starred Review))

In the manner of the very best sf, Chang makes readers think about ideas of great importance to the world they inhabit by posing them in the context of a well-realized, intricately detailed alien society... gripping reading.

(Booklist (*Starred Review))

A fantastic, richly brocaded collection.... [the book] is a treat for science fiction readers ready to investigate a future seen through a different lens.

(Bookpage)

I'm actually rather surprised that no one has looked into Chinese science fiction before this.

(Science Fiction Chronicle)

Playing the role of The Hobbit to the whole book's Lord of the Rings, Chang's introductory story "City of the Bronze Statue" presents a beautiful, lyrical fable of an embattled city whose landscape evolves symbolically as its people insist on fighting each other throughout the ages.

(Stephen H. Segal Pittsburgh)

The City Trilogy is not simply science fiction per se, but an amalgam of sci-fi and Chinese mythology. For readers who can appreciate the integration of old and new images in one narrative, or simply have an interest in Chinese literature, this book is a worthwhile investment.

(Washington Times)

As in the case with both Tolkien's novels and the Star Wars movies, the reader of Chang's City Trilogy easily sympathizes with a suspense-laden rebellion against a wicked empire or domineering power and feels drawn into the action with the aid of pungent dialogue and a fresh array of fantastic neologisms and weird aliens.

(Choice)
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231128525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231128520
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While the translator's forward might lead us to expect this to bear heavy influences of Asimov, Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clark, these three short novels are unmistakably Chinese. The cultural and historical backgrounds along with snatches of Taoism and a self-mocking attitude lend a quirkiness we of the Western hemisphere are not used to. One may well need to have read through the entire story told in the three tales before understanding many of the points of the narrative.
The city here is Sunlon City. We're told in an early footnote that the name is generally considered merely joining sun (the Hui-Hui's planet has a purple one) with "lon" from Babylon. However, as the footnote also tells us, Sun also means man and lon eat, thus Sunlon City can also be interpreted as "man-eating city".
In the prologue, we're told about the huge bronze statue that long predominated the city square, a statue that appeared to grow larger and more formidable with time, but which is ultimately destroyed. Yet many believe that the spirit of the statue persists, and such belief is encouraged by the Bronze Statue Cult.
The Hui-Huis share the planet with other races, especially the Serpent People, the Leopard People, and the lesser mentioned Feathered People. In addition, the city itself has several conflicting societies. All these are ruled by the Shan, invaders from another planet.
Miss Qi is a central figure as the city prepares for revolution. Through the three stories, we see the city torn by strife and the rise of a dictator. There are many battles and the question arises as to who is the true enemy of Sunlon City.
The story here obviously is allegorical, quite applicable to our times.
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Format: Hardcover
Through millennia of cultural advancement, the Huhui people built one of the greatest of intergalactic empires, but when their power grows to an extreme, the Huhui are overthrown and their home-world is occupied. After many years of suffering under the yoke of foreign occupation, the time has come for the Huhui to overthrow the hated Shan and regain their freedom. But, defeating the Shan is only the first step, and in the chaos that follows liberation, there arises one who would be dictator.

The author of this wonderful book (really three books combined into one) is Chang Hsi-kuo, a Taiwanese scientist and author of realistic Chinese literature. Mr. Chang began to write science fiction, as it gave him more scope in exploring issues that could not be addressed in realistic fiction. This trilogy is rightly considered Mr. Chang’s greatest work.

If you are familiar with traditional Chinese literature, this book will resonate with you. If you are familiar with modern, Western science fiction, this book will treat you to a world that is alien, with a fascinating culture and history. If you are familiar with Chinese history, you will quite quickly grasp the story being retold, and reanalyzed. Overall, I found this to be a fascinating and quite gripping read. I highly recommend this book to you!
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Format: Hardcover
These books are a valiant attempt to write science fiction in the idioms of traditional chinese literature. Unfortunately, these allegorical stories don't succeed particularly well. They are essentially Chinese style romances set in an interplanetary context. The result is not particularly interesting as science fiction and becomes essentially derivative and somewhat wooden romance tales. This could be the fault of the translations and it would be necessary to read the originals to be sure.
Readers who are intrigued by the idea of combining the style of traditional Chinese literature with science fiction should read the work of Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger), an American China scholar who wrote some of the best science fiction ever published.
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