A City of Surveillance and Wonders: Announcing S. Qiouyi Lu’s Debut Novella In the Watchful City

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Jonathan Strahan has acquired World English Rights to S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City, a lyrical, intimate novella set in a remote, fantastical city that uses a complex living network to watch over its inhabitants and visitors. Through the lens of four interconnected stories, one of the city’s cloistered human overseers will see aer knowledge of aer world expand beyond the city’s boundaries to places—and possibilities—ae has never before imagined to exist.

In the words of the author S.:

The city in which the frame narrative is set, Ora, arose out of a fusion of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and a bio-cyberpunk take on surveillance, one extrapolated from current technology that I got to see in Hangzhou, China. The city is not one cohesive place, but layers and layers, facets upon facets; this novella sees Ora from multiple perspectives while also looking out into the world.

In the Watchful City is more than just an illustration of a city, too. It is also a collection of stories about diaspora, about power, about longing, about growth and transformation. It’s the weird, experimental project I’ve always wanted to write. I’ll always be thankful to Jonathan Strahan and Tordotcom Publishing for having the faith in me to put this novella out into the world.

In the words of editor Jonathan Strahan:

If you don’t read short fiction magazines you could have missed it, but in the early months of 2018 Asimov’s Science Fiction quietly published “Mother Tongues” by S. Qiouyi Lu, one of the finest science fiction stories of the decade. The moment I read it I knew I had to work with S., and I did everything I could to make that happen. The first fruit of that appeared earlier this year on Tor.com – a gut-wrenchingly powerful short story called “Anything Resembling Love” – and I could not be happier to be playing a part in what comes next.

In the Watchful City is a hallucinatory, entrancing tale the likes of which readers have not seen before (though maybe Calvino’s Invisible Cities might be a signpost), and I think it’s going to knock people’s socks off. I can’t wait to see it get into the hands of readers or to see the stunning book it’s destined to be.

S. Qiouyi Lu writes, translates, and edits between two coasts of the Pacific. Aer work has appeared in several award-winning venues. Ae edits the magazine Arsenika and runs microverses, a hub for tiny narratives. You can find out more about S. at aer website s.qiouyi.lu or on Twitter @sqiouyilu.

In the Watchful City will be available from Tordotcom Publishing in 2021.

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