Book Review: The invaluable Invisible Planets introduces the world of Chinese sci-fi

“Some said that outside the borders of the State there were other web sites, but those were only urban legends.”
—Ma Boyong, “The City Of Silence”

“The machines pretty much ran on their own, and there were very few workers. At night, when the workers got together, they felt like the last survivors of some dwindling tribe in the desolate wilderness.”
—Hao Jingfiang, “Folding Beijing”

In his introduction to the new anthology Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction In Translation, the sci-fi writer and translator Ken Liu warns the reader against drawing generalizations from the stories selected for the book. To put that in perspective: Invisible Planets isn’t just the first book of its kind since Wu Dingbo and Patrick Murphy’s Science Fiction From China (1989), but the handiest primer on modern Chinese sci-fi published to date. In addition to short stories by seven contemporary writers, Liu—whose …

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