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Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

(Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation #2)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,151 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Broken Stars, edited by multi award-winning writer Ken Liu - translator of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning novel The Three Body Problem by acclaimed Chinese author Cixin Liu - is his second thought-provoking anthology of Chinese short speculative fiction. Following Invisible Planets, Liu has now assembled the most comprehensive collection yet available in the Englis ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Tor Books (first published February 1st 2019)
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Zoe's Human According to the introduction in the anthology, this is the first time "Moonlight" has been published in English. So if you only read English, then mo…moreAccording to the introduction in the anthology, this is the first time "Moonlight" has been published in English. So if you only read English, then most definitely it is a new piece of work. (less)

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Ken Liu openly states in his introduction that these stories are selected based on his tastes. There is a variety of some known Chinese science fiction writers, and some new voices. Most of them were new to me as I'm woefully behind on books like the Three Body Problem, among others. There is also an earlier volume of Chinese science fiction in translation that is probably worth the read.

Not only are there stories in this anthology, but three essays about the current state of Chinese science fic
Michael Finocchiaro
This is Ken Liu's second collection of contemporary science fiction after Invisible Planets and it is a great read. There is a wide variety of styles and lots of female authors. I hope some more of their longer work gets translated into English. Makes me want to go back and re-read The Three Body Problem and I grabbed a Kindle version of Waste Tide as well!
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Favorite stories:

"Goodnight, Melancholy" by Xia Jia (a reread for me, I enjoyed it even more the second time)

"What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear" by Baoshu (it's a love story where historical events run backwards, and it made me cry)

"The First Emperor's Games" by Ma Boyong (a ton of fun and kind of similar in concept to "The Snow of Jinyang", but worked better because it was short)

My rating is probably more accurately 3.5 stars, if I average out what I would rate each story. There are
Great collection of stories, more in the speculative fiction range than sci-fi, all of them with original ideas and fine writing.

Also, the three essays at the end are a very informative and interesting journey in the origins and history of Chinese science fiction literature.

Here's one thing: "the first text in the science fiction genre can be found [in China] as early as 450 BC to 375 BC". Who would have thought that someone from that age had been thinking about automatons...

To my shame, except
Manuel Antão
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Chinese Dystopias: "Broken Stars - Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation" by Ken Liu

Dystopian fiction is always a bit frustrating, possibly because, as a depressive, it mirrors the way I catastrophise stupid little problems. I know that that impulse is irrational, so it's weird for an author to essentially explain why it isn't. Too often, dystopian fiction is anti-technology, relying on very conservative, slippery-slope l
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully diverse (and wonderfully translated) anthology. Highly recommended.

My impressions of the individual stories are here:
Matthew Quann
If you look back to my review of Invisible Planets , I praised Ken Liu for bringing more Chinese SFF to Western audiences after the flashbulb-debut of Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past and delighted in the seven writers' works he'd selected for the collection. Going into Broken Stars I was hoping it would hit some of the highs of the first collection--Folding Beijing still sticks with me!--and introduce some new voices. Liu certainly went bigger on this one: we've got a higher page coun ...more
Ah, Ken Liu, I guess our taste differs this time. I enjoyed Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation more than this one. The stories in there are more touching. This one felt a bit more distant, and I am not sure why there are stories with so many Western pop culture references in there. Good effort, nonetheless.

The highlights from this anthology for me:

"Goodnight, Melancholy" by Xia Jia
Any AI/robot fans need to read this. Hands down, Xia Jia, you are one of the bes
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another excellent collection which was translated by Ken Liu but which includes various Chinese SF stories by an array of the writers who are currently making waves. The stories were diverse and mostly enjoyable, although a few were a little less interesting to me as a Western reader because I couldn't relate as easily to them as I had wanted to, but in general even these had a fascinating undertone to them.

Some comments on individual stories below:
86.04% "Chen Quifan's Coming of The Light was
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dreamers
Recommended to Alan by: MCL
We played and fought, fought and played, and before we knew it, our childhood had escaped us.
—"What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear," by Baoshu, p.155

When we—science fiction fans in the United States, that is—were growing up back in the 20th Century, most of the stories we read and told ourselves reassured us that the future was ours. Over and over, the same unspoken assumptions were the backdrop for so many extrapolative English-language epics: the U.S. would be large and in charge for
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Broken Stars is a collection of contemporary science fiction short stories in translation, edited by Ken Liu. These stories all come from the burgeoning science fiction genre in China. Stories are varied, from fantastical tales akin to Chinese myth and legend, to historical Wu XIa style stories, conventional science fiction, and even copypasta. Topics range from AI and its interaction with depression, to morality tales, to time travel fiction. These stories are generally of high quality, and are ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ken Liu mentions in his introduction for Broken Stars that he curated it by selecting stories that he enjoyed and thought were memorable. I like to think our tastes overlap quite a fair bit since there are a number of stories that really stuck out to me. Some of these Xia Jia’s “Goodnight, Melancholy”, Baoshu’s “What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear”, Tang Fei’s “Broken Stars” and Fei Dao’s “The Robot Who Liked to Tell Tall Tales”.

Aside from the three essays about the history and rise of
Thanks so Cixin Liu and Ken Liu, I've become a big fan of Chinese science fiction over the years, both long novels and short stories. In this anthology, Ken Liu presents (and translates) an anthology of sixteen short stories by fourteen Chinese science fiction writers, as well as three essays on the history and rise of Chinese science fiction. The stories varied in their appeal to me but there are some corkers. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I actually enjoyed reading this book. I have picked up Sci-Fi books before - like The Martian by Andy Weir - but never managed to finish any of those. However, this one is a bit different from the Sci-Fi books I read in the past. Broken Stars / Zerbrochene Sterne is a collection of short stories by China's finest Sci-Fi writers like Cixin Liu, and the majority of these short stories don't have a strong Sci-Fi element to them. That is why this book was perfect for someone like me ...more
Zoe's Human
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lt, wishlist
Exceptional in breadth and depth, this anthology is nothing short of magnificent. It contains quirky humor pieces as well as the artful sort of stories that are blatantly ignored by those who wish to brush off any genre fiction as childish or unserious. With only one tale that I disliked, picking favorites from this one is a challenge. Nevertheless, I pick the following as my top three while reserving the right to change my mind tomorrow (or perhaps even in the more immediate future):

Shabbeer Hassan
Another masterful collection by Ken Liu after Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation.

Of course, as with all anthologies, not every included story was great but overall the imagination present in Chinese SF is quite breathtaking. Maybe "so-called" sci-fi authors like Peter Hamilton or Neal Asher can take some inspiration from them.

My favourites:
Goodnight, Melancholy by Xia Jia
What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Baoshu
Broken Stars by Tang Fei
The Robot
The Artisan Geek
This book came out in February? How has it not been reviewed yet? I bought this today in the book store because I had a conversation with someone last week about Chinese literature/science fiction and how much Ken Liu has been trying hard to make it available to English speakers. I have been studying Chinese for some while and am nowhere near reading such advance literature, so I am really thankful for Liu's work. I can't wait to have a read and review it! :)

You can find me on
Youtube | Ins
Sep 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
Considering “Invisible Planets...” was the best SF short story anthology I’ve ever read, I NEED this book. I can’t wait for this release!
Jason Furman
Broken Stars reads like an also ran to the excellent Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation. Both are collections of Chinese science fiction edited and mostly translated by Ken Liu. Both have many of the same authors. But where there is overlap, the stories in Invisible Planets seemed better (e.g., “Folding Beijing” was better than Hao Jingfang’s story in this collection, both Liu Cixin’s were better in the previous collection than in this one, the essays at the b ...more
Hagai Palevsky
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
However, after many years of worldly experience, I think tall tales give pleasure simply from the imagination’s leap into the infinite. It’s no different from humanity’s desire to fly. The pleasure alone is reason enough; no other explanation is needed.
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Some of the stories gave me similar vibes as to what my mother tells me Korean stories are like: less neatly wrapped up conclusions, more foraying into ideas and what-ifs that don't seem to "resolve" in the way Western authors prefer. But others of the stories were very much what we're accustomed to. Definitely interesting, though I don't know much either about short stories or Chinese fiction.

(Learned about a new genre from this book: chuanyue!)
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is an uneven as the last one but hard to find a stand-out here and some are barely readable. Love u Ken Liu keep up the good work but sorry
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never fail to feel dumb when reading sci-fi short stories, especially sci-fi short stories, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading through this anthology. I am sure I would have enjoyed it so much more if I had a better grasp of Chinese history, pop culture and other references, but from it was still a fascinating read based on what I do know.

Some of my favourite stories are:

Moonlight - Liu Cixin
This short story really made me realise that I'm very into stories about time travel or pseudo time
Peter Dunn
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On first sight there seems to be an awful lot of material that puts tech or time travel, or both, into China’s past, particularly around the beginning of ancient imperial China, but on reflection is that any different from our own UK regular hankering after steampunk Victorian settings at the height of the British empire? There is even an explicit line of text making that very link in one of those stories

Another very direct comparison with a Western SF device can be made in ‘What has Passed Sha
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thought-provoking, just the way I like my sci-fi to be! I have to say that aside from Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem, I don't know much about Chinese science fiction. I enjoyed this collection quite a bit (and even found myself tearing up at some of the more sentimental stories), but I found the essays at the end particularly useful since it gave me more of a cultural context for the literary landscape of Chinese sci-fi.
4.5 stars

Ugh this was so, so, so good. As a fan of Ken Liu's writing, I was extremely keen on picking up an anthology edited and translated by him as soon as possible - if he's picking the stories, they have to be good.
And he didn't disappoint.

While not every story is my personal favourite, all of them offered something new and fresh to me and, importantly, entertained me. Some of them made me think, some made me feel, some made me laugh, and some did it all.

I'll definitely be going back and
I love this translated collection of modern Chinese speculative fiction, and can’t wait to read the earlier book in this series. The brief prepended context Ken Liu offers for each author helped me understand the subtlety and significance in many entries without going on too long, and the handful of closing essays added an extra bit of cultural contextualization.

Nearly all of these stories are thought provoking in some way, and several are true to Chinese sci-fi’s apparent original/traditional d
Khai Jian (KJ)
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In this age, truth was as rare as virtue. Even more tragic, when faced with the truth, most people preferred to doubt its veracity because they would rather believe the truthy mirage created by their own minds"

Thank you Definitely Books for sending me a review copy of Broken Stars by Ken Liu (not to mention that the cover for this book is just so beautiful!). Broken Stars is a compilation of 16 short Chinese sci-fi stories edited and translated by Ken Liu. I have translated a number of court do
Annie Su
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
interesting collection of short stories. some felt less fleshed out than others (or maybe I just took to some stories more); strong starting stories; meager ending. I was surprised to learn from the essays in the end about science fiction's (SF) "embarrassment"-inducing place in Chinese society prior to Liu Cixin's fame. I truly hope everyone of all ages can enjoy SF unapologetically !

a story higlight:
"What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear" by Baoshu: wish I knew more about China's
The Hissing
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished with Ken Liu's curated selection of Chinese Science Fiction.

I think my introduction to Chinese Sci Fi and Fantasy was thanks to The Paper Menagerie (by the same author and another fabulous collection). Later of course I came across Cixin Liu's absolutely stunning Three Body Problem and now this.

What I loved about this collection was how each of them skirted away from the cliched high tech, space faring, quantum entangled settings and rather put the whole Sci Fi environment to buil
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Ken Liu ( 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

Other books in the series

Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation (2 books)
  • Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

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