China Mountain Zhang
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

China Mountain Zhang

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,730 ratings  ·  193 reviews
Winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee.

With this groundbreaking novel, Maureen F. McHugh established herself as one of the decade's best science fiction writers. In its pages, we enter a postrevolution America, moving from the hyperurbanized eastern seaboard to th...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published September 2nd 1999 by Orbit (first published March 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about China Mountain Zhang, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about China Mountain Zhang

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lit Bug
3.75/5

In the 22nd century, China has replaced America as the world’s dominant political, economic and cultural capital, following a political revolution in America that has displaced its capitalistic economy and brought in an era of socialism.

It is an immensely well-imagined and portrayed account of a plausible future where China takes precedence over the States – the latter becomes akin to a third-world dump following a financial crisis, while China rises in economic importance, and consequentl...more
Brad
***WARNING*** This is a reading journal rather than a review, so it will be riddled with unmarked spoilers. You have been warned.

China Mountain -- Zhang:- So far, Zhang is nothing like I expected, neither the character nor the book. I expected a cyber-punky action thriller, and it may still become that, but this first chapter offers no signs that a change is going to come. At this point it is a study of two characters: Zhang and San-xiang; the former is our gay half-ABC (American Born Chinese)...more
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 4.5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 4

For various reasons, I went into this book expecting a degree of coldness in the narrative. I expected pessimism and a post-cyberpunky, purposeful lack of self-awareness in the narrators. Even halfway through it, I expected to be hurt by events.

And don't get me wrong. There is a lot to hurt the reader in here...more
David
Aug 15, 2007 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scifi fans
I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the best book you've never read. I had the joy of discovering this book when it first came out, almost a decade and a half later, I still feel it is one of the best SF novels I've ever read. The novel is made up of several stories loosely intertwined.

McHugh draws upon her experiences living in China to craft future in which China has become the dominant power, and America has been reduced to a third-world country controlled by China. Chinese-born Ch...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
China Mountain Zhang is an impressive work, well deserving of its Hugo and Nebula nominations and its Tiptree and Lambda awards. Thoughtful, precise writing and Zhang’s fully developed characterization make this a stand-out read, with only overall structure and the subject of one point of view preventing me from awarding a full five stars.

Unfortunately, Goodreads has failed to announce a change in service that includes deleting reviews for being off-topic. They've stopped the mass deletions afte...more
Zorena
I'm not sure what I expected from this book but considering all its awards and nominations I was hoping it was legitimately good. I got what I hoped for. While I love space opera and action styled science fiction, I also love a good character driven story. This falls into the latter category.

I gravitate towards the more specific genres of science fiction such as dystopian, post apoc and cyber punk because they are topics that I've put some thought into. So has McHugh. A Chinese dominated dystopi...more
Tatiana
This book is one of those that sneak into your high regard. It's not flashy or sensational, it's just very real. The author has the knack of writing characters you care about. All the various subplots weave together, touching at points. You find that you care deeply about what happens to each of them, and the story of their struggles, their loves, and their accomplishments makes really good reading. The world is extremely well-built and realistic. I totally do think China will be the world's mai...more
Ian
When I was reading China Mountain Zhang, I was enthralled by the authenticity of the characters, the believability of their words and actions, and the credibility of the future that McHugh envisions. It was thoughtfully and elegantly written. I truly felt for, and felt with, the characters. I didn't have to suspend disbelief as the storyline was so plausible. It was easy to read. Not "easy" like Shoots and Ladders is easy to play, but easy in the way a beautiful painting (or a beautiful woman) i...more
Jamie
This is an elegant science fiction novel, set in a future where China has become the dominant world power. The cover blurb tries to impress you with the futuristic setting, but this is a strongly character-driven story, and only loosely plotted. It’s almost a series of related stories rather than one coherent novel. I found it a mesmerizing read.

Most of the book is about a young New Yorker named Zhang trying to make his way in this wonderfully realized future world. His career path is rocky beca...more
Nancy
The story is set in a near future US that has undergone a socialist revolution and the Second Great Depression and is dominated by China. Each section is a novelette-sized story featuring several characters in different locations -- New York City, Baffin Island, China and Mars. The characters are engaging, realistic and likeable. The story is upbeat and enjoyable, though I found myself wanting more at the end.
Madeline
I should have read China Mountain Zhang a long time ago, and I'm definitely moving Nekropolis higher up my list. China Mountain Zhang is mostly about the title character, a mostly young, mostly Chinese engineer in a not-quite-dystopian future version of the world. McHugh gives us a world where economic upheaval, global climate change, and political unrest led to socialist or quasi-socialist revolutions. (There is also some colonizing of space involved, in kind of a cool way.) The majority of the...more
Matt
I find it challenging to pinpoint exactly why this book is so remarkable, especially because the plot is not its strength, and I find that's what most people are looking for in a book (I see that many of the lukewarm reviews point to this). Part of my admiration is for the richness of the language. For a 300 pager, the language was dense enough to make me feel I was reading something epic (i.e. longer), and I found myself slowing down to savor every bit. There's no padding . . . every single wor...more
Michelle
if the plot had been half as interesting as the characters were, or the world they inhabit is, this book would have been fantastic. as it is, only so-so.

basic concept summary: china has come out on top of the political/ideological dogpile, so the world is a (mostly) socialist sino-centric place. the good schools, the quality jobs, the big money, and all the envy & prestige are gazing toward china. enter zhang, who's chinese/hispanic - his parents had him gene spliced as a kiddo to look purel...more
Zach
In which the titular character is a gay American man of Chinese descent living in a future post-collapse/revolution US that has become a state-capitalist satellite of the hegemonic People's Republic of China, starting off as a construction foreman and ending up as a kind of super-architect. I just spoiled the entire plot of this book for you, but if you're a plot-centric person this won't appeal to you anyway. This is getting a little too close to the dreaded bildungsroman for my taste, but McHu...more
Maggie K
China Mountain Zhang is such a great example of showing place through the day to day lives of its characters that it almost seems like a book about nothing....not except a futuristic earth (and a Mars colony) so alive in its humanity it shine! Really, really quite thought provoking.

Rafael "China Mountain" Zhang is the loose knot tying the characters stories together, hi POV sandwiching those of his Chinese boss' daughter, 2 Martian colonists, and a kite-flyer; each of whose perspective adds anot...more
Bliss
this book depends more on its exquisite characterizations and fascinating vision of a future where china dominates as the global superpower than on plot, and it totally works. it presents a "slice of life" of zhang, a gay half-chinese american, as he navigates a world in which his sexuality and americanness make him not the ideal. along the way, it also gives glimpses into the worlds of a cyber-kite flyer, martain settlers, and an "ugly" chinese expatriate trying to make her way as a young adult...more
Karlo
The reviews I read for this book said that it was character heavy and plot light. I would agree that the characters in CMZ are engaging, real, and were in general what drove my enjoyment of this book. The plot definitely meanders as it relates to the inter-relation of characters.

I only felt a little let down with the lack of definitive resolution for both Zhang and the Mars couple (Martine and Alexi). Maybe that's meant to mirror real life in that things rarely end in a clean and simple manner....more
Tudor Ciocarlie
China Mountain Zhang is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of science fiction literature, with a very interesting subject in today's world with an economic crisis and with a China rises higher and higher, a "mosaic" of a sweet ambiguity which tells you that the survival of humanity should not be in absolutes, that does not give answers, but makes you ask questions yourself about everything around you from capitalism to global warming.
Richard
I just might gush about this book without giving you any idea of what it's about. Well, it's about so many things. It has been a long time since I've fallen so deeply in love with characters. Lately, my opinion of most novels has been that they are too long and overblown. China Mountain Zhang is just perfect, but I found myself wanting to read more and more pages about these people anyway, just out of selfishness. The book touches on the lives of several people living in a near future that McHug...more
Kelly
Adding this as a recent re-read, because I was re-reading it exhaustively earlier this month (but had to keep that on the down low at the time).

There are about 8,247 things I love about this book and Maureen McHugh's writing, but one thing I was struck by is that this book was published 20 years ago this year and ages incredibly well, which is really rare for a dystopic future book that preceded the introduction of the internet into popular culture. McHugh makes a wise choice to let a particular...more
Brit Mandelo
Hot damn. I bought this months ago when I first began doing the Queering SFF series on Tor.com because nearly every commenter on the "recommend your favorites" post suggested it, and I'd never read it. That's a pretty rousing endorsement, as those posts tend to average 60-100 comments.

I absolutely agree with all of those fine, fine people. This book was stunning. That's the only word I can find to describe it right now: stunning.
Mark
A very engaging first novel set in a possible future when China controls the United States. Themes of class struggle, sexuality and spirituality woven throughout. Young Zhang is a engineering technician who is just trying to create a stable future for himself, despite the odds stacked against him. I look forward to reading more from Maureen McHugh.
Juliana
It's a quiet sort of read, in that not so much ultimately happens in the book... but it's an interesting journey through the life of interesting characters, in an interesting universe.
Sooz
when i first picked up this book, i assumed it was set in the future, but it doesn't feel like the future so much as it does a slightly altered version of our present. maybe not. maybe it is the future - but it is definitely not the far distant future - as we are already seeing signs that China has the potential to be the next economic world power. As McHugh carefully avoids giving political or historical sign posts, it is hard to really pinpoint the time she has in mind. i think this is a brill...more
Althea Ann
This was the 2nd book I've read by Maureen McHugh, although it is her first.
I have to admit, I preferred "Mission Child" - but this was pretty good as well. McHugh is an excellent writer, with a real gift for creating vivid, complex and believable characters.

However, I felt the structure of this book was slightly awkward - the main plot follows Zhang, an American of half-Chinese heritage, in a near-future where China has become the dominant world power.
Every so often, the story goes on a tangent...more
Wastrel
Nov 08, 2011 Wastrel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking for a more literary, personal SF
Shelves: reviewed, z-2011
Not recommended for: those who want action and excitement.

China Mountain Zhang is a very peculiar novel. It is set in the China-dominated near future, showing the lives of several characters, particularly one mixed-race gay engineer. It's hard to know how to feel about it. On the one hand, it has an annoying and boring central protagonist, almost no action, little psychological insight or progression, and a setting too close to the real world to be enthralling. On the other hand, it is mostly ve...more
Daniel Roy
I always feel guilty when I quit a book halfway through, and I don't think I've ever felt guiltier than with this novel. Everything about it sounds like I would absolutely love it. But yet as I made my way through the pages, I found myself dreading my reading sessions more and more, until I just decided it was time to move on.

That's not to say I don't recognize the book's strengths, and there are many. The idea of a futuristic world where China has taken over the United States is brilliant, and...more
David King
Review originally posted on my blog: http://killie-booktalk.blogspot.com/

The book is set in a future world where China has become the dominant world power and the US had become a poorer communist nation. The majority of the novel is set around the ordinary life of Zhang, a gay half-Chinese American, as he navigates a world in which his sexuality and American identity make him less than perfect in the eyes of the current world order. In addition the novel breaks away from Zhang on several occasio...more
Arian
Oct 29, 2008 Arian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arian by: Joe
Shelves: recommended
I was given this book some time in the foggy past by a very good friend of mine. In fact, this book is his copy which I managed never to return. (Um. Sorry Joe.)

I looked upon this as a reread, but about a third of the way through the book, I realized that absolutely nothing in it rang a bell. So I must not have finished it the first time. I'm tempted to think "my loss," as I enjoyed it so thoroughly this time. But I also think that perhaps I wasn't old enough to appreciate it the first time arou...more
Nikki
The same friend as gave me Blankets insisted that I should read this. Another life-changing book, for him, a book that came at the right time. He told me that it wasn't like a lot of SF, that it didn't have some great big plot, that it was just about people getting on with their lives.

I didn't really get into it at first. The narrative voice feels strange to me, something I had to get used to. It almost felt like I was reading it in translation -- which would be appropriate enough, given the set...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Air
  • Ammonite
  • White Queen
  • Black Wine
  • The Fortunate Fall
  • A Woman of the Iron People
  • Trouble and Her Friends
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • The Female Man
  • The Mount
  • Solitaire
  • Brittle Innings
  • Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
  • Mother of Storms
  • Courtship Rite
  • Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia
  • The Kappa Child
  • On Wings of Song
110206
Maureen F. McHugh (born 1959) is a science fiction and fantasy writer.

Her first published story appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in 1989. Since then, she has written four novels and over twenty short stories. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang (1992), was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award, and won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. In 1996 she won a Hugo Award for h...more
More about Maureen F. McHugh...
After the Apocalypse Nekropolis Mothers & Other Monsters: Stories Mission Child Half the Day is Night

Share This Book

“In my experience ideology is a lot like religion; it's a belief system and most people cling to it long after it becomes clear that their ideology doesn't describe the real world.” 5 likes
“Like I told you, I’m not interested. I think the party is mostly a means of advancing one’s career anyway.”

“Exactly, and your decision not to join is a political decision.”

“Well, then my political decision is to not be political."

“Exactly, that’s a political statement. You are expressing your opinion about current politics. Except you are political, everything we do is political…”

“It’s a practical decision, not a political one… We don’t have to analyze everyone’s lives for motives.”

“I wasn’t saying it’s wrong… I was just pointing out that your life says something about your politics whether you think about them or not. You can either just let that happen or you can think about the kind of choices you want to make.”

“I’d like to continue to make my choices because they fit my life rather than out of some sense of ideology… In my experience ideology is a lot like religion; it’s a belief system and most people cling to it long after it becomes clear that their ideology doesn’t describe the real world…”

“That’s as pure a description of an applied political theory as any I’ve ever heard.”
1 likes
More quotes…