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Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

(Chinese Science Fiction in Translation #1)

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,678 ratings  ·  322 reviews
Award-winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China. Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various 'Year's Best' anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken's personal favorites. Many of the authors collected here (with the obvious exception of Liu Cixin) ...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Tor Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Gordan Zelnicki Yes, and it deserves a Hugo award. The Dark forest was even better.
When you read a book translated from another language, you seem to catch the rhythm…more
Yes, and it deserves a Hugo award. The Dark forest was even better.
When you read a book translated from another language, you seem to catch the rhythm and resonance of that language... and it is always a different story. A better one, one taken from a different perspective... When the movie comes out I will challenge myself to watch it without subtitles...(less)

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4.08  · 
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars for this collection of Chinese SF short stories. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Invisible Planets is an interesting and varied anthology of thirteen speculative short fiction stories and three essays by seven contemporary Chinese authors, translated into English by Ken Liu. As Liu mentions in the Introduction, several of these stories have won U.S. awards (most notably the 2016 Hugo Award for best novelette, given to Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing) and have been inclu
...more
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
3.15

There! I did it! I must say that this was a somewhat hard journey as there are many cultural differences. But I am curious now in regard to Chinese sci-fi, and I'll be reading some more in the future.

1. "The Year of the Rat" by Chen Quifan - ★★★☆☆
"In the Year of the Rat you're going to fight rats. Now that's funny."

This was... Well, I'm not sure what this was. It felt like some kind of dystopia, where you either have a job, or you end up fighting rats. It felt like a horror story, where
...more
Bradley
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

There were quite a few interesting stories in this volume. It isn't considered a "Best-Of" collection by a long shot, but it does happen to give us westerners a taste of modern Chinese SF in the form it has now become. I won't say that a few were breaking any molds or anything, but there are a few things to consider.

Such as? Well, SF as a whole is generally less respected in China than it is over here with one exception.

Liu Cixin is followed by the Chinese intern
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I am a big Ken Liu fans so this collection of collated science fiction that he translated fascinated me. I enjoyed the 13 stories and their various perspectives. There is a running debate in the intro and the three concluding essays on what Chinese sci fi is or isn't which was equally fascinating.
Taryn
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Expertly curated anthology of short speculative fiction by Chinese writers.

I've really enjoyed reading short science fiction lately and Invisible Planets is a fantastic addition to my collection! It features thirteen short stories from seven Chinese writers, collected and translated by writer Ken Liu. Liu is upfront about the book's limitations and he cautions the reader to not draw any broad conclusions from the selections. He selected works that were most accessible to a wide audience. Liu urg
...more
Hadrian
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intriguing collection of Chinese science fiction. Some of these stories are award-winners, some of them are popular, and others are just the editors' personal favorites.

Hao Jingfang, who won the Hugo last year, has two stories in this collection. Folding Beijing is a study of economic inequality and physical separation by a city folding in on itself, and Invisible Planets is a tour of exotic worlds, likely an homage to Italo Calvino.

Liu Cixin, who wrote the Three-Body Problem, has two stori
...more
Samantha
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 star average
Althea Ann
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Introduction: Chinese Science Fiction in Translation - Ken Liu

**** Chen Qiufan - The Year of the Rat
In an economically depressed near-future, college graduates are recruited to military platoons in order to fight genetically-modified rats. Intended as pets for export, the creatures are invasive - but show disturbing signs of intelligence. Although rat-catching is less than glamorous, the military trappings of the outfit go to the heads of some members of the platoon - and fellow humans may end u
...more
Carly
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read all that much Chinese speculative fiction, so when I saw Invisible Planets on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I'm always incredulous by any statements attempting to summarize the imaginations of an entire country, so I was relieved when Ken Liu explicitly stated in the forward that he had no illusions that the collection is somehow a full representation of all of Chinese scifi. As he says, this is a collection of stories from seven contemporary authors, and while the ...more
Claudia
Well… science fiction for me means space, future, mind-blowing technology, new ideas, interstellar travel, you get the picture… And in this collection just few have some of that; barely. Half of them are more on the magical realism side. But it is an interesting insight in other culture’s view on sci-fi. I also liked that each of the seven writers were presented very nicely by Ken Liu.

Here's a few words about the ones I enjoyed; as for the others, they are definitely too surrealist for my taste.
...more
Guillermo
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Don’t let my 2 star review dissuade you from reading this. This was a magnificent collection of Chinese science fiction short stories that mostly just didn’t do it for me. It may just have been because I found too many of them were more fantasy than science fiction. No offense to fantasy.

There were three stories of the thirteen however that I loved. Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia was a heartwarming tale of how technology could bring us together. I could see this as an episode of that great sci fi
...more
Sarah
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding anthology. This is a great introduction to Chinese short SF if you haven't read any before, or a survey of the current field, showing its breadth and diversity. Highlights for me included Chen Qiufan's "Year of the Rat," Tang Fei's "Call Girl," Xia Jia's "Tongtong's Summer," and Hao Jingfang's Hugo winner, "Folding Beijing."
My favorite story in the anthology would have to be the title story, "Invisible Planets," also by Hao Jingfang. It reminds me of Ursula K. Le Guin's Changing Pla
...more
Rhode
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I write this review as a feminist, science fiction fan and traveler. All three of my parts want to give it a completely different rating. Thus I've settled on the three stars to be fair.

As a feminist I am appalled by many of the sexist themes in this book and saddened by the translator's apparent surprise when I brought the blatantly sexist ending of the second story to his attention. Although he had worked intimately with the stories and authors, it's possible he had never noticed how offensive
...more
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
This review was originally published at Fantasy Faction here - http://fantasy-faction.com/2016/invis...

Invisible Planets

Chen Quifan

The Year of the Rat – Teenagers are lured into joining a government run fighting unit that traps and kills rats with the promise of guaranteed jobs upon completion of quotas. Kids must join due to poor grades and there is an assumption that they have thus far wasted their lives hiding away inside and playing away video games. The reluctant innocent and the madman who
...more
Coral Carracedo
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una colección sumamente interesante, con relatos profundos, con mensaje y con ese aire nuevo por ser orientales.
Mis favoritos son: El verano de Tongtong, la ciudad del silencio y cuidando de Dios.
He disfrutado también de los ensayos y me alegro que se hayan incluido.
Xia Jia ya es referente para mí. Que bárbara.
He aprendido muchísimo de la antología tanto como lectora como escritora.
Me debatía a ponerle 4 estrellas pero me sigo acordando de relatos y... Buah, el nivel es increíble.
Anna
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Yes, this collection is an excellent presentation of contemporary Chinese SF writers and yes, the stories included come in a variety of styles and themes. Getting some context is usually a good idea when it comes to anthologies and thankfully there is a wonderful introduction, as well as a non-fiction part with a couple of compelling essays. Each author is introduced with a small bio, which is a very nice touch. Some of the stories have previously appeared online and since there are plenty of re ...more
that_scarlet_girl
3,5*
All the stories are interesting and some of them are quite different from what we use to call sci-fi and fantasy. It's a good read nevertheless and a nice introduction to modern Chinese speculative fiction.
Santiago
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5

La ciencia ficción china, al menos hasta tiempos muy recientes, no era nada habitual en nuestro mercado. Muy pocos autores habían tenido la suerte de ser traducidos a español, algo que, aunque todavía lentamente, parece estar cambiando. La presente antología nos llega de la mano del reconocido Ken Liu, famoso por sus cuentos y su trilogía de La dinastía del Diente de León y, como el mismo antólogo —y traductor del chino al inglés de estas obras— indica en su introducción, el volumen no pret
...more
Joe
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A SF Short Story Collection curated & translated by Ken Liu. It contains thirteen short stories and three non-fiction essays.

"The Year of the Rat" by Chen Quifan
This is an odd kind of Dystopia. Once a citizen is educated and attempts to find work, if they are unsuccessful they can volunteer to be a soldier. As a soldier you have to fight giant mutant rats. Sounds really odd explaining it like that but it does make more sense and has an interesting meaning behind it.

"The Fish of Lijang" by Ch
...more
Danya
INVISIBLE PLANETS will challenge you to think deeply about the world we live in, the worlds that could possibly exist, and how people - both real and imagine - have unique perspectives. This short fiction anthology collects some of the newest voices in Chinese science fiction, many of whom have never before been translated into English. I’ve been really curious about Chinese science fiction ever since Cixin Liu’s THE THREE BODY PROBLEM burst onto the English-language scene a few years ago, and I ...more
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
Like any anthology, this one has its weak spots, but overall it’s a very engaging and interesting look at modern Chinese science fiction and its many voices. Mini-reviews of every story can be found in my reading updates.
Nikki
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date was 1st November 2016

It took me a while to get through this, as I found the tone of the stories rather same-y. I don’t know if that’s because of the translator (because granted, I had the same impression of Cixin Liu’s work in the novels Ken Liu translated). But it’s a great survey of Chinese science fiction and it’s well worth the read; I don’t remember well enough what I’d pick out now from the beginning of the book, but there’s quite a breadt
...more
Ana
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta heterogénea antología es un acercamiento interesante a la ciencia ficción china contemporánea. Casi todas las historias están ambientadas en un futuro cercano y, a pesar de ser muy variadas, si tuviera que destacar algo en común sería esa sensación de desasosiego que provocan. Dicho de otro modo, no son historias con una visión del futuro especialmente optimista. Pese a estar impregnadas de la historia y la cultura chinas, estas historias tratan temas universales que resuenan más relevantes ...more
Javier Alemán
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antología muy variada de ciencia ficción china, en la que casi todos los relatos rayan a muy gran nivel. En ella hay desde escarceos con la fantasía y el surrealismo hasta terrores distópicos y totalitarios, además de varios ensayos finales para comprender mejor la peculiaridad china del conjunto. Meritoria traducción, teniendo en cuenta que ya traduce la anterior (del chino al inglés) y consigue respetar las voces de cada autor.
Rana
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Science fiction is one of the few short story genres that I enjoy but still, they are difficult. I just can't seem to make the mental transition very smooth. But still, this was a good one.
Angela Rodriguez
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
A great collection of Chinese contemporary science fiction stories that express the anxieties of traditional Chinese culture clashing with modern day China. Highly recommend!

My favorite:

-The Year of the Rat by Chen Qiufan
-The Fish of Lijiang by Chen Qiufan
-Tongtong's Summer by Xia Jia
-The City of Silence by Ma Boyong
-Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang
-The Circle by Liu Cixin
-Taking Care of God by Liu Cixin
Kyle Muntz
Apr 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Really glad I picked this up. This is the first (but not the last) book of modern Chinese writing I've read since I've lived in China. Though in general, I feel about the same as I do about most short genre fiction--most of the stories introduce and develop extremely interesting ideas, but tend to fall through when it comes to delivering the engaging human narrative than might be there in a novel. The major exception was Tongtong's Summer, a story I really love, and is also one of the first opti ...more
Chris
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite stunning really, and quite different from my usual reading. The most common theme in these stories, I'd hazard, is conformity. The ones that resonated most for this western reader were the ones with broad universal imaginings of civilizations of all kinds - how they can go so right or wrong - even a civilization of Gods, our creators. Favourites were City of Silence, the titular Invisible Planets (one of my favourite short stories period), Folding Beijing, and Taking Care of God.
Jordi Balcells
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No tengo tiempo de reseñar este, pero quería apuntar dos cosillas. Por aquí van tres nominaciones Ignotus: mejor antología, mejor cuento extranjero 1 («El verano de Tongtong», de Xia Jia) y 2 («La ciudad del silencio», de Ma Boyong). Y la otra es que la edición en ebook en inglés es una mierda infecta: mejor leerlo en inglés en papel o traducido (papel o ebook) por David Tejera y Manuel de los Reyes en Runas.
the gift
very good collection of region little known of science fiction. as any collection some are great (city of silence, invisible planets, folding Beijing, hundred ghosts...) and give a sense of the range of sff from surrealism to hard science, sense of history, useful essays. some authors to look for translations...
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2,910 followers
Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is an author of speculative fiction, as well as a translator, lawyer, and programmer. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, he has been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places.

Ken’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings (2015), is the first volume in a
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Chinese Science Fiction in Translation (2 books)
  • Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation
“Technology is neutral. But the process of technology will cause a free world to become ever freer, and a totalitarian world to become ever more repressive.” 3 likes
“Science fiction is a literature of possibilities.” 2 likes
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