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The Dragon and the Stars (Daw Book Collectors) Mass Market Paperback – May 4, 2010
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About the Author
Derwin Mak is a two-time Aurora Award winner for his short story, "Transubstantiation", and for his work editing the short story collection, The Dragon and the Stars. He can be found on Twitter at @derwinmaksf.
In addition to being an aerospace engineer, Eric Choi is a two-time Aurora Award winner for his short story, "Crimson Sky" and for his work on The Dragon and the Stars. He also received the Asimov Award (now the Dell Award) for his novelette, "Dedication". He can be found on Twitter at @aerospacewriter.
Top customer reviews
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I'm a sucker for short story collections, something I can take to bed and read in short spurts before turning my light off. I'm also a sucker for content that manages to avoid the Eurocentrism so prevalent in the genre. A collection of short stories influenced by Chinese history and culture? They might as well have called it my literary catnip. It was with no small amount of excitement that I greeted the box and plucked this book out of the pile it was shipped with to read immediately.
The anthology began with exactly what I expected and hoped for; the first story ("The Character of the Hound") is one of my favorites. The second was... not as good, but okay. I loathed the third ("Goin' Down to Anglotown") and the fourth ("The Polar Bear Carries the Mail") to the point that I very nearly set the book aside. I'm glad I persevered, as I do rather like some of the other stories (particularly "Lips of Ash" and "Mortal Clay, Stone Heart"), but they're still a mixed bag. I'm baffled as to how some of the stories came to be included in the collection, too. ("Dancers with Red Shoes", I'm looking at you. Aside from the assumed ethnicity of the protagonist, it doesn't seem to touch at all on Chinese heritage.) From a technical standpoint, the writing in general was quite good and I had few complaints there.
Maybe I was expecting something other than what the book was actually intended to be. The blurb on the back reads "The talented authors included here have drawn upon China's rich and venerable heritage as well as the traditions and cultures of their current homelands to create imaginative and fascinating stories." and "[...] here are eighteen science fiction and fantasy visions that showcase the diversity of the Chinese experience around the world." Maybe stories that featured at least a character of Chinese descent in a foreign circumstance is exactly what the editors were going for. If so, they've definitely succeeded. Unfortunately, that's just not quite what I expected or wanted, and I was ultimately a little disappointed.
So it was really wonderful and refreshing to get 18 new SFF stories of incredible range, all by Chinese authors of varying experiences and all featuring Chinese people. From a tale inspired by old school folklore to futuristic sci-fi to alternate history... reading these stories was like popping Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans into my mouth, except all the flavors were awesome and made extra special because they were just what I was looking for.
Each story is special in its own way, and to be honest I simply don't have the time to review them each individually. But I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this wonderful collection. There wasn't a single story I didn't like, and what really wowed me was the incredible breadth the anthology covered... so many different types of stories! And it's especially refreshing since even today, six years after this anthology was published, Asians are still portrayed in the same stereotypical buckets in most mainstream SFF (always the ninja, or the sneaky gangsters, or the sexless nerd, or the mute chinadoll, or the dragon lady...). Next time I see a stereotypical Asian nerd in fiction, I want to shove this anthology in that person's face and be like IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! SEE?? SEE????
Okay, so this turned out to be more of a rant than an actual review... sorry about that! In a nutshell... This anthology features an incredible collection of excellent stories, and the sheer imagination of it all is amazing. I really, truly enjoyed reading every single one of them.