Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Hardcover – November 1, 2016
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
'Whether or not Chinese SF really is a creature all to itself, on this evidence it's certainly worth reading' Interzone. 'With stories ranging over social control, world-building rats and redundant robots who have outlived the humans who made them, this is a collection that will stimulate and delight' Daily Mail. 'A wonderful collection, it's thoughtful and entertaining fiction that as a western reader opens your eyes to science fiction written by a different, rich culture. My favourite short story collection of the year' SF Book Reviews. 'Dreamlike and hypnotic, evocative and inspiring' The Bookbag. 'There is fabulous variety in this book, ranging from hard Science Fiction to near-future social Science Fiction ... a fine collection' SF Crowsnest. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
About the Author
KEN LIU (editor and translator) is a writer, lawyer, and computer programmer. His short story “The Paper Menagerie” was the first work of fiction ever to sweep the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
Invisible Planets contains stories and essays from a variety of Chinese SFF writers, and all of them are good (despite one being the kind of story that I couldn’t quite wrap my head fully around, I could still at least recognise the quality of it). Though even by the end of it I wouldn’t be able to answer the question of what makes Chinese sci-fi Chinese, I can at least say that the stories in Invisible Planets had a feel to them that I very rarely encounter in Western-based sci-fi, even if I couldn’t put my finger on it and say, “This. This is what Chinese sci-fi reads like.” But even if I can’t properly identify it, I still enjoy it, enjoy the cultural and perspective shift that comes with reading something so firmly rooted in a culture I didn’t experience and absorb; Invisible Planets has a lot of that.
It’s at this point that I wish I was better equipped to dissect the stories and their origins more deeply. I feel like there’s a lot that could be said — and indeed should be said about the collection I just devoured, but I’m no authority on it, and I think half the things I might say might be influenced not only by my experience with reading the stories but also with my own cultural blindspots when trying to interpret another culture. Translator Ken Liu pointed out a few times through his notes in the book that it would be so easy to interpret some stories in certain ways that play to North American ideas of what China is, was, and might be like, but that’s not always a good idea. In one of the essays at the end of the book, author Liu Cixin comments that a North American author once tried to clarify some differences between Chinese sci-fi and the sci-fi we’re more familiar with here in Canada and America, but missed some points and fell short of the mark.
That said, though, my experience with this book, as someone who is admittedly ignorant of much of Chinese history and culture, is probably closer to what most readers will experience than those with more familiar backgrounds. Most readers of this anthology aren’t going to be able to pick out a dozen and one subtle cultural aspects that influence and make up the inspiration behind the stories told here. They’re just going to appreciate them for the stories they are. And there’s not necessarily anything inherently wrong with that, so long as readers at least go in with an open mind and don’t expect to find stories exactly like the ones an American would write, nor something so outside our sphere of experience that we can’t understand it.
As with any anthology, some stories stand out to me more than others, the ones that made their mark a little deeper and that I’ll probably go back and read again in the future. Chen Qiufan’s The Year of the Rat is the story of young men attempting to combat mutant rats who have gotten out of control, and in the end is a story about genocide and uncertainty. Ma Boyong’s The City of Silence is one of the most chilling possible futures I’ve ever read about; when the State controls everything, including what you can and can’t say, where do people turn to express their humanity, and how far does either side go in pursuit of their goals? Liu Cixin’s The Circle is similar to one of the scenes from The Three-Body Problem that has always stuck in my mind, the creation of a human computer, moving from simple binary commands to more complex reactionary coding, in order to compute the digits of pi. And Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing was a true gem in this collection, in which economic castes are separated from each other by time, and one man will go to great lengths to assure his daughter a decent place in the world.
Folding Beijing was one that struck me very deeply. There are pieces, in each section of the city that Lao Dao visits, where people talk about how much money they make. Throwaway lines, worked into dialogue naturally, but they make a good point. While visiting Second Space, Lao Dao talks to someone who makes about 100,000 yuan a month. Lao Dao thinks to himself that in Third Space, where he lives, he makes a standard 10,000 yuan a month. While in First Space, a woman offers him 100,000 yuan, and comments offhand that she earns that in about a week. It reminded me so much of a previous job I had, working contract for a section of a credit card company where my clients all possessed the 2nd most prestigious card the company offered, and sometimes when things didn’t go their way, they’d complain of being treated like second-class citizens and how it was outrageous that they were being charged so much. These people, just in order to have the card, had to earn as much in a month as I would make in an entire year at that job, and I was earning almost 50% above minimum wage at the time. So Folding Beijing flashed me back to that time, talking with people who thought little about spending as much on 2 nights at a hotel as I would spend on an entire month’s rent, and it really was like we were from completely separate worlds that never would really touch. I felt that connection to Lao Dao, because in such a situation, what can you really say, when someone says that something utterly beyond you is no big deal for them?
Invisible Planets is absolutely a sci-fi anthology that I recommend, and to pretty much everyone who reads SFF. The perspective shift is refreshing, the stories top-notch, and the essays enlightening. Ken Liu has done a fantastic job in translating them for English-speaking audiences, and the whole experience has made me hungry for more. Go and pick this book up as soon as you’re able; I guarantee you won’t regret it.
For a long time undisclosed to the english speaking readership, there has been a whole world of SF in China, which Ken Liu (The Grace of Kings), translator of all the stories in this book, finally reveals. Want to know what happened in the Year of the Rat, or how to fold a city like Beijing? Take this up and be astounded.
Yet what Liu claims in his foreword to the edition is, that this is not about what makes these SF stories chinese, but what about these chinese stories is worth to be known to non-chinese speaking SF-readers, and the answer is: all of it.
Stories by: Chen Qiufan, Xia Jia, Ma Boyong, Hao Jingfang, Tang Fei, Cheng Jingbo, and, last but not least, the much lauded Cixin Liu (The Three-Body-Problem).
What IS to be expected is the full range of fiction, from the social approach to science and future, up to Hard SF. Also additional nonfiction (namely three essays), which makes this all the more a milestone in global SF history.
And about the hard work, Ken Liu put into this? As they say: it takes a master to translate masters. Liu is a master, quod erat demonstrandum.
Most recent customer reviews
An interesting collection of science-fiction stories by Chinese authors—I didn’t like all of them, but none was...Read more