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Waste Tide

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Mimi is a 'waste girl', a member of the lowest caste on Silicon Isle.

Located off China's southeastern coast, Silicon Isle is the global capital for electronic waste recycling, where thousands like Mimi toil day and night, hoping one day they too will enjoy the wealth they’ve created for their employers, the three clans who have ruled the isle for generations.

Luo Jincheng i
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Tor Books (first published January 2013)
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Adam Yeah, in like... the first 20 pages. Not sure why you feel inclined to grind your axe without even trying the book, heh.

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3.38  · 
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 ·  422 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
An interesting book about class oppression and the progression of human use and integration of technology. The environmental aspect was of course a significant part of the story, but the damage caused by recycling of e-waste came across so matter of factly that it simultaneously became both more and less horrific.

The style was interesting, using a bit of overlapping time sequencing, and had an almost literary quality to it. In some parts it seemed to take on an almost magical realism feel blendi
This grim story addressed a number of things: the environment, class oppression, technology use and its disposal, body modifications, exploitation of workers, corporate shenanigans, the Western use of Asia as a dumping ground for its garbage and recycling, differences between cultures, and more. I found the story to be dense with ideas, complicated, and difficult to read at times because of all the uncomfortable questions it was posing. For example, the bulk of the story concerned e-waste and wh ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I’m writing this post, voluntarily, as an ordinary reader and it has nothing to do with the fact that I know the writer personally! I have read the book in its original Chinese years ago, and have liked it a lot since.
TW about the book: violence, abuse, torture, death

If you’re craving hardcore-classic-William-Gibson-Style-Cyberpunk, read “Waste Tide”.
If you’re a fan of environmental literature, folk culture and religion, social class in China and international powers deciding the fut
J. E. Sambora
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This will be a SPOILER FREE review of Chen Qiufan's 'Waste Tide'.

Thank you to Ken Liu for the superb translation, and to Head Of Zeus for the free review copy.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this novel. I don't have much experience reading Chinese sci-fi or, sadly, Eastern fiction in general, so the setting of the story was already somewhat foriegn to me, even before the divide of futurism.

I thoroughly enjoy "cyberpunk" as a genre, but this novel is something different. It strikes
Caleb Masters
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inspired by the author's experience growing up next to the world's largest e-waste center in the world, Waste Tide is an excellent piece of environmental sci-fi writing. Following four characters as they experience the trash filled world of Silicon Isle, Qiufan has crafted a harrowing and compelling vision of our future as well asking hard questions about our relationship to the earth, to each other, and the technologies we embrace. Thank you to Ken Liu and Tor for bringing this modern Chinese s ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure about the English version, but the Chinese version is mind-blasting.
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
After reading three of Chen Qiufan’s short stories in the collection Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation I kept an eye out for more of his work being translated to English, not because his stories were particularly impressive, but because Chen Qiufan writes cyberpunk. I love cyberpunk, even though so many cyberpunk books are disappointing or just downright bad. Unfortunately, Waste Tide proves to be another disappointment in the subgenre, but its flaws suggest ...more
Interesting themes and world building but I honestly had to force myself to finish it. First 40% was a drag and it didn't really pick up to much after that.
Christa Maurice
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this hard to follow. The idea was interesting, but it seemed like the author kept using flashbacks to plug plot holes. I've read a lot of sci fi and a lot of translated literature and this was not high in either category.
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is a really amazing idea. It could just be the translation, which is not the translators fault, but somethings just come across as totally trite one dimensional. In a high concept book, that does not work.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suggested Pairings:
PRECEDE WITH: “The Flower of Shazui” (short story set in same universe)
FOLLOW WITH: The Man with the Compound Eyes, Wu Ming-Yi.

Recently I had the opportunity to watch the film Plastic China, a documentary following workers and their families employed in garbage recycling in a small town in rural China. This is the world Chen Qiufan explores in his first novel, originally published in 2013 but recently translated into English by Ken Liu.

While on the surface an “Eco-Punk” (Cybe
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Waste of Time.

The book has some cool ideas for a near-future sci-fi - especially the digital drugs! - but it is terribly executed. The characters simply aren't interesting and the plot is almost non-existent. Most of the book consists of excessive exposition and way too much hand-holding, as if the reader is not intelligent enough to remember what they have read earlier in the book.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish Goodreads let you do half stars - this is a 3.5 for me.

It doesn't hold a candle to The Three Body Problem series (more Chinese SF translated by Ken Liu), but not much does.

Waste Tide is one of those books with concepts cool enough to carry you through to the end, but with a story that's a bit lacking. If you're really into SF and/or interested in what seems to be the recent boom of Chinese SF, Waste Tide is worth your time.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this as the Amazon Rainforest burns...
I love technology, but this book gave me the creeps. I hope this isn't one of those books that is self predicting.
Love Mimi, she just put herself out there and tried to make the world a better place for EVERYONE....
Carole O
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
The premise, setting and timely concepts of Waste Tide had me looking forward to reading it, but the execution didn't hold up. The writing (or maybe the translation) made the characters seem remote - it was hard to care about them. The book seemed extremely plot-driven, as in (spoiler alert) hmmm, if the little boy takes Mimi's picture when they briefly meet, if he wins a photo contest with the picture and displays it on his desk (even though it was made abundantly obvious to him by 'Brother Wen ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere beneath all those words a decent short story lurks. Unfortunately it was just too damn buried to be enjoyed... buried in backstories and descriptions and a lot of wasted words. Shame
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
An interesting mix of cultures and ideas, with a fairly plausible not-just-science-fiction idea at the center of it.
Jeffrey Noyes
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this primarily because of Ken Liu’s tendency to take and translate excellent projects. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Waste Tide. Ideally science fiction strikes a balance between character and plot. While the skews don’t need always need to be completely balanced right down the middle, Waste Tide falls way off the mark with its inability to write a character with much substance.

There are moments in the text where it feels like momentum is being built, but i
Philippa Mary
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally written in Chinese, this edition is translated by Ken Liu. This is a fantastic environmental sci fi book and I would highly recommend checking it out. It's definitely not a light read, since it's dealing with topics like the environment and class oppression, but I never felt it was too heavy and it never dragged for me. I would definitely recommend checking it out.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mix ancient Chinese customs and vicious gang warlords, in a near future world of technological advancement and ecological calamity and you have an action-packed recipe for disaster, wrapped up with a violent conflict between the haves and have-nots.
Pedro L. Fragoso
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This is extremely rich and multifaceted. There’s a superhero origin story, for starters: « There were two Mimis, she had gradually come to accept this fact, and she named them “Mimi 0” and “Mimi 1.” Mimi 0 was the waste girl from the distant home village: cautious, guarded against everyone, oversensitive yet full of curiosity, pitying a malfunctioning chipped dog, liking a Silicon Isle boy with an ambiguous identity—but so lacking in self-confidence that she kept him at arm’s length. (…) Mimi 1, ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
something self-explained, but not quite all. the central figures are outstanding but didn't really have the oppotunity to glow. believed could be better off if extended into a series.
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A modern Chinese-language Gibson-inspired cyberpunk sci-fi novel with environmental overtones. This rather niche sub-genre is sort of my jam, and I had been looking forward to this translation for a while. Especially as I was quite the fan of a couple of Chen’s previous short stories (‘Year of the Rat’ and ‘Flowers of Shazui’, both also translated by Ken Liu in the ‘Invisible Planets’ collection) – depicting worlds dripping with atmosphere and weirdness. This is his first novel-length work, and ...more
Rob Caswell
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is definitely a work of “near-future SF”… so much that the first third of the novel felt much more like just a contemporary fiction tale. I don’t recall a date being given, but it certainly feels like it’s set within a decade from now. In many ways this novel read like cyberpunk, created for the 21st century and set in China. It carries on many of the meaningful cyberpunk themes, most notably “high tech meets low culture”.

Ken Lui’s translation work seems very good, but then again he hasn’t
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This book did a great job of mixing tradition and ambition, past and future. rich and poor in a futuristic Chinese wasteland of electronic parts, and the toxic refuse that comes from it. A ruthless American corporation schemes to modernize the island’s recycling process in trade for financial gains and something else... A ruthless Chinese clan schemes to stay in control with little regard to the damage done the workers. Gangs, spies, & high speed chases make for a James Bond style setting, b ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
While not billed as such, Chen Qiufan's Waste Tide gloriously remakes Cyberpunk for the 21st century.

Gone are the gee-whiz depictions of virtual-spaces, replaced with vivid portrayal of wealth inequality and toxic pollution that speaks to humanity's current crises. Chen's plot pays homage to Cyberpunk tropes of body mod swapping and neural/mind/computer interface while violently romping through crime bosses, labor organizers, drug dealers, eco-terrorists, migrant workers, and global capitalist
Isaac Watras
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have a lot of trust and admiration for Ken Liu so I was excited to come across this book. This was my first encounter with Chen Qiufan's work and for about the first 100 or so pages I was impressed. The premise is a good one and the author asks important questions regarding how we manage waste and resist the temptations of easy profits. The copy I have is about 350 pages and it was on about page 140 (during a scene in which a female character is abused) that I lost sense of the book’s directio ...more
Kee Onn
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fast-paced, futuristic thriller that reads like a Hollywood blockbuster film. The book is set in the near-future, where prosthetic body parts are bought and replaced like cars, and plastic waste from around the world is dumped on Silicon Isle where 'waste people', such as the main character Mimi sorts them out for recycling. Themes of environment, technology and ethics are featured heavily, as Mimi unwittingly stumbles upon a secret project and discovers new technology that increasingly blurs ...more
Dan Trefethen
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to rate this higher because it deals with a point of view that Americans don't often see, being a translation from Chinese. And because the technological aspects of the novel are quite clever. This is a valuable book to have in translation, about a topic we mostly ignore: the exploitation of poor people in other countries who recycle toxic waste.

But the overwrought metaphors were too much. I don't know what Chinese metaphors are like in their native language, but these read like a begin
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Mixed feelings about this one. A dystopian SF story about a near future where downtrodden workers slave in terrible conditions on a Chinese island to recover elements and other substances from recycled technology and plastics. An American comes to the island proposing a new automated recycling process which will leave less pollution on the island, but will ultimately either put the workers out of work or give them even less lucrative jobs. But he and his translator get involved with one of the s ...more
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Chen Qiufan was born in 1981, in Shantou, China. (In accordance with Chinese custom, Mr. Chen's surname is written first. He sometimes uses the English name Stanley Chan.)

He is a graduate of Peking University and published his first short story in 1997 in Science Fiction World, China's largest science fiction magazine. Since 2004, he has published over 30 stories in Science Fiction World, Esquire
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“Now, any further excuses would be stumbling blocks for the collective, and all plans and acts would be highly efficient. This was the decision of all.” 0 likes
“Exact location unknown” struck him in the chest like an icepick. He refused to trust anyone and pledged that he would find her with his own methods. He knew the art of crafting code, of shaping symbols to carry out his will without forbearance. Almost unnoticed, a certain computer virus with directed propagation began to spread among IP addresses in Silicon Isle, infecting more and more machines and taking over web terminals frequented by the waste people.” 0 likes
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