Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

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College graduates-turned-soldiers are recruited to kill genetically modified rats. A woman finds salvation and freedom thanks to a curious ruse. Unfamiliar planets and cultures dazzle a young listener. Different classes are separated by a transforming city. Gods come to Earth in the form of aliens seeking retirement and care.

Invisible Planets presents a sampling of top efforts from Chinese authors, many available to American readers for the first time. And it’s an eye-opening collection to be sure.

Honestly, the more fantasy-tinged stories outshine the sci-fi, drawing from the rich history and mythology of China to create some wonderful tales about dragon-horses and ghost cities. Although the science fiction stories offer fascinating glimpses into the present and future of another culture — including some very poignant social commentary, a hallmark of strong, serious science fiction — they don’t deliver the same pop and engagement as the more fantastic tales do.

Concluding with a few nonfiction pieces about the influence and role of science fiction in China — pieces that might’ve made more impact at the start of the collection — this is a marvelous introduction to a brand new world of sci-fi for many readers.

Reviewed By:

Author Ken Liu
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Tor Books
Publish Date 2016-Nov-01
ISBN 9780765384195 Buy this Book
Issue March 2017
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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