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Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,826 ratings  ·  494 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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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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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, wh
...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.

Fino's Cixin Liu and other Chinese SciFi and Fantasy Reviews
The Three Body Problem
The Dark Forest
Death's End
The Wandering Earth
Supernova Era"
Ball Lightning
The Redemption of Time (Fan Fiction approved by
...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
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
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
Matthew Quann
I was really looking forward to reading Invisible Planets--Ken Liu's first curated Chinese SF anthology--and was not at all disappointed. Liu opens the collection with the disclaimer that Chinese SF should not be thought of as speaking to only Chinese culture, but that it is an important piece of modern SF as a whole. It's hard to argue with the man when novels like Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy have blown up in the SF world.

Structured around seven Chinese SF writers, Invisibl
...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
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
Silvana
When a story collection has almost 70% likability in total, I consider it already a huge success and deserve at least four stars. Even for the 30% I am happy I have read them and experience the world they portrayed. This is not my first foray to Chinese SF - thanks to Liu Cixin and Locus Magazine recommended reading list - but it still felt sooo refreshing.

The stories, most of them, have heart. They were touching, evocative even; one almost made me bawled in an airplane (I managed a sniffle). T
...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
Mimi
What a well translated book, yet story after story is sadly depressing. It was not until I read Cixin Liu's essay at the end on the state of science fiction in China that I understood the cultural hopelessness that has influenced the tone of these stories.

My favorites of these 13 stories: The Circle and Taking Care of God both by Cixin Liu. Folding Beijing and The City of Silence also stayed in my mind for days. If I was rating only these stories it would be 4 or maybe even 5 stars.

If you're in
...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
Gabi
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This wonderfully curated anthology gets all the stars. I had such a pleasure reading this variety of voices and styles.

Two of the stories I didn't entirely get: Chen Qiufan's "The Flower of Shazui" and Tang Fei's "Call Girl". Yet all of the rest sounded the one or other string of my soul.

I especially loved that the range of the stories was so broad. Liu Cixin's stories serve the more hard SF end with his intelligent, mindboggling ideas. Ma Boyong's "City of Silence" presents a typical Orwellian
...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 Chen Q
...more
Riju Ganguly
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you pick up an anthology of purportedly Science Fiction stories, what do you expect?
Spaceships, aliens, journey to stars, galactic conspiracies, epic quests...!
This book has NONE of them. Well, the spaceships are mentioned in couple of stories, but they are barely there. And yet, it is perhaps the most profoundly scientific and fictional anthology that I have read.
Why scientific? Because most of these stories are based upon human expectations and anticipations, loves and losses, hopes and f
...more
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
Nicky
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
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.
Emilija
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads, sci-fi
a really good collection of stories. enjoyed them all, actually, which usually never happens for me
Nefeli
Not every story in this collection was a 5-star read for me, but the experience of reading the entire book definitely was.
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
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
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
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.
Cheryl
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Introduction by the editor/ translator concise but enlightening, interesting, and worth reading. So are the biographies. The translations of each story are clearly done with both care and talent. I'd like to read Ken Liu's own work, too.

--- Chen Qiufan --- Chen Quifan
The Year of the Rat .4*. Confusing at first, brilliantly ambiguous unexpected ending. I love all the characters, even the 'bad guy' and even the 'romantic interest.' The SF element is all too likely within my lifetime.

The Fish of Li
...more
Yogarshi
Fantastic collection of 13 short stories that blend diverse genres of speculative and science fiction with Chinese history, traditions, and society. While it's hard to play favorites with this collection, here are a few scattered thoughts about some of the stories ( I leave out Liu Cixin's stories as he is arguably the most well known author in this collection, and one of the stories here is drawn from "The Three Body Problem").


* Chen Qifuan stories speak of technology as both a healing force an
...more
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.
Princessjay
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great collection, contains more above-average stories than is typical. Showcases both Chinese SF authors contemporary work, as well as Ken Liu's ability to translate fluidly from one to another. Highly recommended.

---

Chen Qiufan >>
- The Year of the Rat
4 STARS

Cynical. Neorats who--possibly due to hacked tempering--evolved way faster than expected, (view spoiler) The feeling of being a meaningless cog in a machine, told to
...more
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Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is an American author of speculative fiction. He has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, as well as top genre honors in Japan, Spain, and France, among other places.

Ken's debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper
...more

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