A woman who fears she’s failing as a painter and as an artist seeks inspiration from one of her favorite poets and finds something even more wondrous, but also more impossible to capture on canvas…
Fiction and Excerpts 
From stories about time-traveling assassins, to Black Mirror-esque tales of cryptocurrency and Internet trolling, to heartbreaking narratives of parent-child relationships, Ken Liu’s The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is a far-reaching work that explores topical themes from the present and a speculative look at humanity’s future.
Publishing Feb 25th with Saga Press, The Hidden Girl includes 16 of Liu’s science fiction and fantasy stories, plus a new novelette. Read the 2011 story “Staying Behind” below!
When putting together Broken Stars, a new anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction, my guiding principle was to pick stories that stayed with me in some way, like the memory of a shooting star on a summer night. When one is finished with a book, sometimes all that remains are such brilliant, unfading strokes across the vast, unfeeling empyrean.
Here is a list of my favorite bits from some of the stories—think of it as a stargazing photo album.
Broken Stars is a thought-provoking anthology of Chinese short speculative fiction edited by multi award-winning writer Ken Liu—translator of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning novel The Three Body Problem by acclaimed Chinese author Cixin Liu. Following Invisible Planets, Liu has now assembled the most comprehensive collection yet available in the English language, sure to thrill and gratify readers developing a taste and excitement for Chinese SF.
The stories span the range from short-shorts to novellas, and evoke every hue on the emotional spectrum. Besides stories firmly entrenched in subgenres familiar to Western SFF readers such as hard SF, cyberpunk, science fantasy, and space opera, the anthology also includes stories that showcase deeper ties to Chinese culture: alternate Chinese history, chuanyue time travel, satire with historical and contemporary allusions that are likely unknown to the average Western reader. While the anthology makes no claim or attempt to be “representative” or “comprehensive,” it demonstrates the vibrancy and diversity of science fiction being written in China at this moment.
Broken Stars publishes February 19th with Tor Books. We’re excited to share Ken Liu’s introduction to the anthology below!
Since the publication of Invisible Planets in 2016, many readers have written to me to ask for more Chinese science fiction. Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past series (sometimes known as the “Three-Body” trilogy), praised by President Barack Obama as “wildly imaginative, really interesting,” showed anglophone readers that there is a large body of SF written in Chinese to be discovered, and Invisible Planets only whetted their appetite.
This has been a gratifying result for me and my fellow translators; fans of Chinese SF; the agents, editors, and publishers who help make publishing translated works possible; and above all, the Chinese authors who now have more readers to delight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From the author of The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and the forthcoming Death’s End comes a story about unborn memories.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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