Tor.com content by

Ken Liu

Fiction and Excerpts [6]
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Fiction and Excerpts [6]

Seven Birthdays

We’re pleased to reprint Ken Liu’s short story “Seven Birthdays” from Bridging Infinity, the latest volume in the Hugo award-winning Infinity Project series, showcasing all-original hard science fiction stories from the leading voices in genre fiction.

Sense of wonder is the lifeblood of science fiction. When we encounter something on a truly staggering scale—metal spheres wrapped around stars, planets rebuilt and repurposed, landscapes transformed, starships bigger than worlds—we react viscerally. Fear, reverence, admiration – how else are we to react to something so grand? Edited by Jonathan Strahan, Bridging Infinity puts humanity at the heart of these vast undertakings—as builder, as engineer, as adventurer—reimagining and rebuilding the world, the solar system, and even the entire universe.

[Read more]

The Happily Invisible Co-Author

Invisible Planets is the first English-language anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction. Inevitably, the question arises of just how “faithful” the translations are. The simple answer is: “very” and also “not at all.”

I often compare translation to the performing arts, but that’s not quite right. We (rightfully) celebrate a concert pianist’s brilliance in interpreting the dead notes in a score, and we argue over which actress’s version of Viola gives the most interesting twist to Twelfth Night, but we are hesitant to say much about the translator’s contribution to our enjoyment of a book, even though comparing any two versions of the Bible ought to convince the most skeptical reader of how much difference translation makes.

[Read more]

Invisible Planets / Invisible Frameworks — Assembling an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF

I jumped on Twitter the other day to ask my followers what they wanted to see in a blog post about Invisible Planets, the first English-language anthology of contemporary Chinese SF. All sorts of interesting answers followed, but a common theme soon emerged: they wanted to know what made Chinese SF Chinese.

Aha, I thought, lucky me! There is already an essay in the anthology by the SF scholar and author Xia Jia addressing exactly that question. I guess I can just point to that essay and be done…

But it’s always interesting to see more than one attempt at answering a question.

[Read more]

Social Engineering and Politics as Technology: Writing The Wall of Storms

In the The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves, W. Brian Arthur explores some fundamental questions about technology, a subject about which we know at once a lot and very little.

For instance, while we have experts who can tell you exactly how every piece of technology in our life works, we still have little understanding of how technology develops and evolves as a whole. The analogy of biological evolution does not work. Engineers do not make longer lasting batteries by randomly varying the composition of existing batteries and letting the market pick a winner, and the invention of accurate mechanical clocks was not the result of a group of clepsydra makers getting stuck in Switzerland, thereby producing isolated timepieces that are incompatible with other specimens outside the Alps.

Indeed, Arthur’s answer to the question of how technology evolves turns conventional wisdom upside down. While we often speak of technology as the practical application of basic scientific research, Arthur’s analysis shows the evolution of technology to be rather independent of basic science. New technologies arise as fresh combinations of primitive technologies (what Arthur calls “combinatorial evolution”), and as new technologies mature, they, in turn, become components for yet more elaborate combinations. And as technology progresses, practitioners at the edge are also constantly capturing new natural phenomena and harnessing them for particular purposes—thereby creating new components to feed into combinatorial evolution. Basic science can provide new phenomena for technologists to capture, but after that, the evolution of technology follows its own course.

[I decided to make the engineer-as-poet the central image of my new book.]

Manipulable Geometry: The Mathematics of Paper-Folding

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

The ancient art of paper-folding (zhezhi in Chinese and origami in Japanese) can be impressive to viewers of all ages.

But no less impressive is the mathematics behind origami. The origamist-mathematician may be unique in exploring a contemporary branch of mathematics that is as tangible and physical as the geometry of the ancient Greeks.

As anyone who has folded a paper crane knows, there is a unique pleasure in working with a flat sheet of paper and through folding, creasing, tucking, and other manipulation, transforming it into something quite magical. The material, at once pliant and rigid, allows the mind to reason with abstract geometry in a way that cannot be replicated through other means.

[Read more]

The Grace of Kings (Excerpt)

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in The Grace of Kings, the first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, available April 7th from Saga Press.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods.

Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

[Read an Excerpt]

Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon

Tor.com is pleased to reprint “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon,” a story by Ken Liu originally published in Kaleidoscope—an anthology published by Twelfth Planet Press.

Edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. The anthology features twenty original stories focusing on scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Ken Liu’s “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon,” tells the story of Jing and Yuan, a pair of young women in love for the first time in their lives, who’re about to be parted by circumstances beyond their control. On Qixi, the Festival of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl, the legendary lovers give the young women some help and advice.

[Read “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon”]

Celebrating Cixin Liu and The Three-Body Problem at the Chinese Xingyun (Nebula) Awards

I had a wonderful time at the Chinese Xingyun (Nebula) Awards this past weekend. In addition to meeting many friends old and new and witnessing Bao Shu win the novel Xingyun with his fabulous Ruins of Time, I also participated in the celebration of the publication of the English edition of The Three-Body Problem with Liu Cixin’s passionate fans.

[Read more]

Reborn

Please enjoy “Reborn,” by Ken Liu, a novelette inspired by an illustration from Richard Anderson.

“Reborn” is part of a three-story series curated by senior Tor Books editor David G. Hartwell. All three are based on a singular piece of art by Richard Anderson and will be released for free on Tor.com.

Read the story behind these stories or purchase all three right now in a $1.99 ebook.

Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “Reborn” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent.

This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by Tor Books editor David Hartwell.

[Read “Reborn” by Ken Liu]

The Plague

Presenting Ken Liu’s “The Plague” a new short story from Nature magazine’s Futures series about a meeting between a girl whose skin has been replaced with plague and a man from the Dome who doesn’t understand her.

What does the future hold? Is there life beyond the stars? Will artificial intelligence take over the world? Is time travel possible? All of these questions and more are addressed every week in Futures, Nature’s science-fiction column. Featuring short stories from established authors and those just beginning their writing career, Futures presents an eclectic view of what may come to pass.

You can get your weekly fix from Futures by following it on Twitter (@NatureFutures) or checking out the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Futures-Science-Fiction-in-Nature/371508716609).

Futures welcomes unsolicited contributions, so if you wish to share your
vision of the future please see
http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/gta/others.html#futures for details on how to submit a story.

[Read “The Plague,” by Ken Liu]