Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Review: Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ken Liu openly states in his introduction that these stories are selected based on his tastes. There is a variety of some known Chinese science fiction writers, and some new voices. Most of them were new to me as I'm woefully behind on books like the Three Body Problem, among others. There is also an earlier volume of Chinese science fiction in translation that is probably worth the read.

Not only are there stories in this anthology, but three essays about the current state of Chinese science fiction. I was fascinated to find out that contemporary acceptance of the genre in its home country is very recent, as the genre was widely disregarded up until just a few years ago (and I'm guessing not everyone is on board yet.)

There are some stories focusing on technology in this anthology, but honestly not as many as I would have expected if I'd had to guess. Many are time travel or have time travel components, or are taking a part of known Chinese history and tweaking it, falling almost to alternate history, although sometimes these elements are merely the backdrop. This means you will enjoy the stories even more if you know about Chinese history and aren't just reading them cold. One story had a connection to a well-loved British science fiction novel, a reference even I understood.

I did like how for the most part, these are not just copies or versions of stories from the west. These are inherently Chinese, and I'm so glad to see more of this type of work being translated into English.

Length wise I felt there were too many on the novelette length size, with different numbered sections. Ken Liu must like his stories a bit longer.

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to the title through Edelweiss, even though it took me a while to get to. The collection came out in February 2019.

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