In this anthology, Liu offers an assortment of the short fiction he’s translated, along with three short essays about Chinese science fiction.
Some stories in this anthology have won awards and been anthologized elsewhere, while others are just stories Liu personally enjoys. In his introduction, he points out that although China has a rich science-fiction culture, “few stories are translated into English, making it hard for non-Chinese readers to appreciate them.” Hopefully, this collection is the first step toward rectifying that oversight, as every story is captivating. For instance, Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” takes place in a near-future dystopian version of the title city, where its buildings literally telescope out of and into the Earth, allowing three different strata of society to spend a portion of the day aboveground. A waste processor from the poorest level, Third Space, must slip through the breaches in the complex folding mechanism to deliver a letter to a woman in the far wealthier First Space in order to earn enough money to send his daughter to a good school. In “Taking Care of God” by Liu Cixin—author of The Three-Body Problem (2014), the first novel in translation to win the Hugo Award—who also contributes two essays here, a race of beings arrives on Earth, 2 billion old men and women with long white hair and white robes. They claim that they are God, creators of everything, and they now want to spend their golden years here with us. They’re taken in by people around the world, including Qiusheng’s family in rural China, which quickly learns how stressful housing an elderly relation can be. These stories, along with the rest of the anthology, represent the best in both science fiction and works in translation, detailing situations that appear alien on the surface but deftly reframe contemporary issues to give readers a new view of familiar human experiences.
A phenomenal anthology of short speculative fiction.