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.
It’s hard for me to convey the excitement of Liu’s fans—everywhere he went, they clamored for his autograph, and every time he spoke on a panel, the aisles and floor were filled with people spilling from the seats. Literally thousands were there to see him. Liu Cixin was unfailingly polite and gracious to everyone, accommodating every autographing request and giving brilliant answers to questions. It was also the first time that Liu Cixin and I met in person, and he was every bit as warm and inspiring in person as over email.
Many fans asked me for my opinion on the anticipated reception of The Three-Body Problem and its sequels in the U.S. The publication of the English edition is a big deal for them because it’s the first time a major hard sci-fi novel from the People’s Republic has been translated and published in the U.S. I told them that though I couldn’t predict the future, I thought Liu’s magnificent work would find its audience in the West just as it had done in China.
The Xingyun organizers and Liu Cixin surprised me by giving me a special award for my work in translating the novel. I was overwhelmed by the raucous applause and the passionate cheers from the fans—I think I managed in the end to mumble something on stage in thanks, but it wasn’t very coherent. It’s incredibly moving to see so many people moved by a work of art to such a degree.
Photos: Ken Liu
Ken Liu is a science fiction writer and translator; his English translation of The Three-Body Problem is available November 11 from Tor Books. His writing has appeared in F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld, among other places. His stories “The Plague” and “Reborn” have been published on Tor.com. His debut novel The Grace of Kings, the first volume in his silkpunk epic fantasy series, will be published by Saga Press on April 7, 2015.