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3.47  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  198 reviews
In 2096, after Earth has successfully colonised Mars, a war of independence erupts and Mars breaks away from Earth's rule. Over the next century, two radically different societies develop, each regarding the other with mutual suspicion. Eventually, Mars sends a group of young delegates to spend five years on Earth in an attempt at reconciliation.

In 2196, the delegates are
Kindle Edition, 608 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Head of Zeus
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Manuel Antão
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Different Narrative Approach: "Vagabonds" by Hao Jingfang, Ken Liu (trans.)

“To be interesting, rely on your head; to be faithful, rely on your heart and eyes.”

In “Vagabonds” by Hao Jingfang

Prior to “Vagabonds” I read Liu’s translation of Chinese SF: “Invisible Planets - Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction”; my favourite story was Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing”. I was eagerly anticipating Jingfang’s first novel in English (also transla
“This is the tale of the fall of the last utopia.”
Vagabonds, prologue.

Don't let the prologue fool you: Vagabonds is not that kind of sci-fi. It's not a war story, even though the possibility and memory of war are ever-present shadows; it's not a story about an apocalypse. It is a slow-paced, introspective novel about a group of young Martians returning to their planet after having spent years studying on Earth, where they started to question everything about their way of life. This is a tale a
Richard Derus
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My Review
: It will come as no surprise to any regular reader, or in fact anyone I've interacted with in the past decade-plus, that end-stage capitalism such as has gifted us with the badly botched, lethally disorganized COVID-19 plague response is not high on my list of Good Things in the old-fashioned Martha Stewart sense. Quite a lot of people (over fifteen) in the assisted-living facility where I live are dead thank
A story of freedom, merit, and equality. An ambitious book that delivers. Sedately paced, meticulously crafted, yet some patience is needed.

First of all, I need to clarify that while it might be easy to see Mars = China, Earth = West, it's not like that at all. Ken Liu explained it better here: The way of life in Mars described in the novel would not work in China and the other way around.

Secondly, did this book meet my expectation? Yes. I have read some wor
I was sent this book as an advance listening copy via for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

This was an overall interesting experience and I'm looking forward to not doing it again!

More seriously and in case it isn't clear, I actually really, really liked this and I think it did very interesting things. It's basically literary fic in a sci-fi trenchcoat and if you're wondering what that means: a whole lot of introspection and philosophy, not even one space battle and m
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell
Getting Ender's Game vibes from this :D
I made it to the 25% point of this book and the part I read was more social science than it was science fiction. That was not what I was expecting. The endless comparison and contrasting of capitalism and socialism was boring to me. The same thing could have been accomplished by having a utopian society establish itself in Delaware. Mars was unnecessary. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know if it’s me, Liu’s translations in particular, or just the difficulty of translating from Chinese into English, but neither this nor The Three-Body Problem do anything at all for me.

The prose is alright, but the beginning seems to consist purely of an infodump. I’m too old and too impatient to slog through this sort of thing any more.

Maybe I should try Bradbury.
Toya (the reading chemist)
When I first read the synopsis for Vagabonds, I was immediately intrigued and knew that I needed to read this book. That being said, this book was so much of a let down, which is really frustrating.

Coming in at over 600 pages, this book is an absolute behemoth. Don't get me wrong, the prose is beautiful and the author describes scenes in painstaking detail. However, when it comes to sci-fi that takes on civil war between Earth and Mars, I expect epic battles and space exploration. That is NOT t
Michael Finocchiaro
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good piece of recent Chinese science fiction translated with care by Ken Liu. It is hard not to read it without seeing parallels drawn between the cultural conflicts between Mars and Earth echoing the cultural gap between China and the US. The Mars of Louying is like a socialist paradise where needs are met, but free choice is constrained whereas the Earth is a purely commercial smorgasbord. Some of the side love stories felt unnecessary, but overall an interesting read.
Dawn C
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-storytel
DNF @ 15% (3.25 hours).

This writing style was just not for me. Way too much tell instead of show. It was full of paragraphs like “when she was a little girl she had witnessed this and this and therefore she felt this way today”. Uhm okay, that leaves me absolutely no way to experience things *with* the characters, as they happen, which is how you make readers/viewers connect with characters. I understand you sometimes have to drop info here and there but this was how everything I knew about the
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
How I read this: Free audiobook copy received through

DNF @ 15%

This book is very long and very slow. I can see it being interesting to me, because it contains good critiques of both communism as well as capitalism, but it's also a little too slow for me right now. I am hoping to maybe one day return to listening to it.

I thank the publisher and for giving me a free copy of the audiobook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

Book Blog | Bookstagram | Bo
Mar 07, 2020 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookishfirst, 2020
*Thanks to Saga Press & BookishFirst for an advance copy! ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hao Jingfang’s Vagabond’s was a beautifully voice acted intergalactic sci-fi novel that was clearly written by an economist. About two worlds, that of capitalist earth and a precariously terraformed socialist Mars, this book was largely about the idealism of youth struggling against histories unknown to them due to the cloaking of what came before in the wars and the resettlement and the struggle for survival and joy in a fascist state. This audiobook was 21 hours long, and much of it was just p ...more

A book I found out by chance and opened fully expecting it to put it down and forget it, Vagabonds drew me in immediately, and while the book started meandering on occasion and overall lacked a unifying focus at least to some extent (not to speak being fairly long at 600+ pages), I really enjoyed reading it and would definitely rate it among the best books of this year.

The (Goodreads) blurb is fairly misleading as the book is mostly an idea novel through the lens of the main characters, the Vaga
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, science-fiction
Find this review and more on my blog!

Here goes another book review for a book I don’t think I’ll do justice. If you’re interested in politics especially those around socialism and capitalism, then you’re going to really like this book. While set on Mars in a futuristic version of reality, the story is much more literary diving into more realistic themes instead of exploring the world beyond. For these reasons, I think this heavy science fiction tome is perfect for any fans of literary fiction an
Intelligent Sci-Fi thriller set on MARS

Vagabonds is not the sort of novel that we would normally review here on TripFiction. But it came to us highly recommended by the publisher, and – in all honesty – it is just as likely we will be visiting Mars as any earthbound destinations over the coming weeks… Armchair travel to the planets.

The book is set 200 years into the future. Mars had been a colony of Earth, but had broken away in a high tech war of independence 40 years previously. The inhabitant
I have found contemporary Chinese science fiction to be an interesting blend of the 21st century world with golden-age speculative concepts. But the last thing I expected with Vagabonds was a dystopia. Now, I’m aware that the meaning of dystopia has evolved in recent decades to assume a violent setting formed after a catastrophic collapse of social norms through nuclear war, asteroid, climate change, pandemic, or some other disaster. But originally, dystopia meant a failed utopia – such as Brave ...more
DNF at ~25%. The premise is interesting and I thought the world-building on Mars was cool. I would have liked to see more of that. The story really didn't get going and the characters were not engaging. I saw someone say that there's way too much telling versus showing in this and I agree. Maybe I would pick this up again at a later point to see where it goes, but I have other books I would rather be reading right now.
I feel bad that I did not like this book at all. It took me a month to get through it. It was very slow and it just didn’t capture my attention. The book seemed more like a coming of age novel for one character. Very disappointed.
Nick Lechler
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Very intriguing idea, to elevate the not-so-eternal conflict between socialism and capitalism wholly to the market of ideas, not goods. But the story doesn't get into gear with its core conflict and, to my taste, lingers way too long with self-reflecting eulogies of its main characters without bringing their opinions any further. Might be the point of the whole story but it was too tedious and—besides the basic premise—just not really for me.
Lel Budge
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Luoyang is returning home to Mars after spending 5 years on Earth. The Mercury Group, a group of young people had been sent to study and live on Earth by Luoyang’s grandfather, the governor or Mars.

On her return she realises the differences between the two planets is not as vast as she believed and wonders where she now belongs. She is a vagabond.

Eko, is a filmmaker on Earth and has travelled to Mars to do the same, to document the society that Earth believes is a dictatorship. He is also search
If you enjoy your science fiction intelligent, ideal-based, and slow, you'd love this book. This is a book that deals with the complexities of collectivist Mars and its relationship to an ultra capitalistic Earth. Everyone in this book has their own idea of what type of government and society should happen on Mars. As Mar's history is being written, each new generation believes they have the correct answers and revolution for the future. It is a very political book in its own way. The politics c ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookishfirst
Despite being a lover of books I can't say that I've ever read a six hundred page book before. They just seem intimidating and overwhelming. I'll admit when I first received Hao Jingfang's "Vagabonds" my first thought was..."what have I gotten myself into?" Despite my misgivings I hold myself to an ethical standard and because I received the book through a BookishFirst giveaway I felt honor bound to give the book a fair chance, read it, and review it.
I was shocked to see just how engaging the re
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This read like a saga. Long but intriguing and kept my attention throughout. The story was enjoyable and I found this to be a nice distracting read during quarantine.

The translation was likely a chore here as the book is full of of intricate dialogue and descriptive writing. Ken Liu did an amazing job.

My copy was provided by NetGalley for review all opinions are my own.
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
A thoughtful meditation on the cyclicality of human folly over the arc of history. But like, in a fun, good way!

Chinese SF in English translation is having a bit of a moment, thanks to the talent of Chinese SF writers and the hard work of translators like Ken Liu. Vagabonds, by Hao Jinfang, tells the story of a future in which the people (all human) of Mars and Earth have settled into an uneasy peace after many years of war and separation. A group of young Martian delegates were sent to Earth to
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A science fiction novel about a war of independence for Mars. It was a bit odd, reading it from a Chinese viewpoint, but that made it more interesting.
DNF at p. 160

I really want to like this book, and I hope to come back and give it a fair shake sometime but at the moment I've been trying for a week to get into it and it has spun its wheels and not really gone anywhere, and has totally failed to grab my interest.

The world seems interesting and the writing is sometimes beautiful, but far too plodding for me at the moment.

I'll give it a go another time.
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
If I were to give my review a headline, I would make it “Dystopia Writes Back”.
Vagabonds is a smart book. It’s not a very exciting one though.

The story revolves around Luoying Sloan, and 18-year-old dancer from Mars who has spent the last five year on Earth along with other students from Mars. She is also incidentally the granddaughter of Mars’ consul – who most people on Earth think is a ruthless dictator. She and the other students are returning to Mars, and with them is a delegation of Terra
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Bookish First Rea...: Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang 11 21 Apr 11, 2020 10:36AM  

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From Clarkesworld magazine:
In 2002, Hao Jingfang was awarded the First Prize in the New Concept Writing Competition. She gained her undergraduate degree from Tsinghua University's Department of Physics and her Ph.D. from the same university in Economics and Management in 2012. Her fiction has appeared in various publications, including Mengya, Science Fiction World and ZUI Found. She has published

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