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Waste Tide

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,618 ratings  ·  306 reviews
Mimi is drowning in the world's trash.

She's a 'waste girl', a scavenger picking through towering heaps of hazardous electronic detritus. Along with thousands of other migrant workers, she was lured to Silicon Isle, off the southern coast of China, by the promise of steady work and a better life.

But Silicon Isle is where the rotten fruits of capitalism and consumer culture
Paperback, 439 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by Head of Zeus (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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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,618 ratings  ·  306 reviews

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Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Fast paced, filmic near future thriller that has elements of Ghost in the Shell, Alita Battle Angel, Lucy and Transcendence in it. More Dan Brown than Margaret Atwood or David Mitchell, except for the ambiguous ending
People always think of themselves as playing with the tides, but in the end, they find out that the tides play with them.

Waste Tide was an entertaining read, but I recognise I don't read many thrillers and that my hopes were a little to high based on the recommendation on the cover
This was a really tough reading. The idea is awesome and the worldbuilding very complex, but the storytelling is disjointed and convoluted. It's a highly dense, mixed bag of cyberpunk, chinese myths, traditions and superstitions, all wrapped up in an eco-thriller, with strong horror accents.

To see where the idea came from, following fragment from Wiki is most comprehensive:

The story takes place in the imaginary ''Silicon Isle''. The Chinese word ''硅屿'' for Silicon Isle shares a similar pronuncia
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a near future SF novel from a Chinese author. Previously I’ve re read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin and decided to try another author from China. My interest in not only in non-Western SF but also on trying to see what Chinese censorship allows these days (as a person that grew in the USSR I clearly understand that a non-dissident author cooperates with regime if s/he wants to be published at all).

This is a story of Silicon Isle. Its original name was different but now it is a dest
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Thomas Wagner
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a refrain from certain corners of science fiction fandom that science fiction has gotten “too political,” a phrase that is usually a good indicator that you’re dealing with a reader who has never understood the genre. Science fiction has always held up a mirror to our times, and whether an individual story chooses to address and extrapolate upon the world as it is, or avoid it entirely for the sake of reassuring escapism, both are political choices on the writers’ part. With some except ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up when on holiday because the cover drew me in and the concept of a future where e-waste dominates a polluted world and cyborgs are common-place appealed. I'm not mad I bought it and read it, but I am a little sad it didn't quite capture my attention as I had wanted it to.

In this book we're following Mimi, a young waste girl who becomes embroiled in a plot which is far beyond her understanding. This has futuristic viruses, crazy technology, and gang-like warfare. There's hat
Holly (The GrimDragon)
"There would be no winners in this game."

Waste Tide is the debut novel by Chen Qiufan, which was published in China back in 2013 and translated into English by Ken Liu a handful of years later.

Taking place on a grimy coastal island called Silicon Isle, off the southern coast of China, known to the world as the recycling center for discarded electronic waste. The island is ruled by three merciless clans who profit by enforcing strenuous jobs, long hours and hazardous conditions for the thousands
Mar 22, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care about anyone or anything in this. Maybe it's the translation. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's just a bit undercooked.

Wouldn't recommend.
Jackson Sambora
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a glutton for all the goodness coming out of chinese sff so this book was a welcome for me. Chen Quifan was one of the authors from Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation that i was looking forward to reading more of so..yeah i was here for this book.

The setting (and people) the events took place in was familiar yet alien at once. it in-cooperated the traditional and existing culture of the people/area with one of a plausible and possible future. The ideas p
Michael Finocchiaro
I had high hopes for this one as it was translated by Ken Liu and since I had read a few short stories from Chen Quifan in various Chinese sci-fi collections. Unfortunately, I found the story wanting and the writing is a bit off. OK, so there is a heavy environmentalist message here which I can get behind, but I never quite got attached to any of the characters and the tech was just ok. It sort of recycled ideas from Philip K Dick's books in a pseudo-novel, but hardly exciting way. Not my cuppa, ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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 too much after that. ...more
Leo Robertson
This one should've been a home run with me—dystopian future, pollution, weird violence and secret unethical medical programs? Uh... Come on!! This is like Leo 101.

But the prose was so cold and I couldn't connect to any of the characters, so I didn't really care what happened to them. Mimi the "waste girl"—she's supposed to be special and the book kept hinting that they'd reveal why, but then it's half the book in and I still don't know why I'm supposed to care about her. (Beyond that horrible th
I love eco-thrillers, and yet I've been sleeping on them the last few years.
It was time to delve back in and wow, this was exactly what I was hoping for.
I was feeling in the mood for a tech-heavy dystopian tale, and this had definite Ghost in the Shell and Final Fantasy VII vibes. Lots of thoughtful prose scattered throughout and plenty of classic cyberpunk elements woven into original scenarios- I loved that certain figures from history played interesting roles, and the couple of historical sci
Carole O
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An environmental and household drama from the beginning, this story famously twists into a powerful cyber-thriller closer to the middle.
David Agranoff
I have long been a fan of Chinese story-telling, it started with Kungfu movies as kids, I still have a shelf of Wuxia (kungfu high fantasy) movie DVDs. I followed that passion to the hard to find translations of those classic novels. In research for my Wuxia Vampire novel Hunting the Moon Tribe I read the classics of Chinese fantasy like the bizarro collection Tales From a Chinese Studio and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. So more than most Sci-fi nerds I have been dying for these translatio ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Morelli
I don’t know what that was. Honest to God, I have no idea what I’ve just read. It was confusing, strange, incoherent at times and boring, so boring that at some point I unconsciously started skimming. I was simply not compelled to keep reading, it was a struggle to get through for such short a book. On top of that, it was nothing like advertised: I was expecting some environmental, post-apocalyptic dystopia - I mean, the title is literally “Waste Tide” and the context is pretty much that of a wo ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waste Tide is part of the recent trend of translated Chinese science fiction. It is a near future story about social and cultural conflict in China. I think it is a must read for people who to speculate about the coming decades.

Waste Tide is full of divisions. The wealthy natives of Silicon Island clash with the poor waste people. Modern technology confronts long-standing Chinese tradition. Perhaps most pointedly, American ambitions bear on Chinese development. Themes including tradition adaptin
I often have trouble with Chinese fiction. It often seems like there are narrative idioms that are clear to readers who are familiar, but which can be jarring to western reader. The very flow of the plot, the use of tension, can be something I'd complain about for a western author, but might be very deliberate here. A few characters seem to go away only to pop up much later, even though they're very important.

What I will complain about is the way Americans are seen about this. Sure, America has
I really hope they'll make a movie out of this, because the message is incredibly important and gets overlooked by way too many people. I know, "tHe BoOk Is AlWaYs BeTtEr", but in this case a film version would make the plot so much more digestible while at the same time being really stunning visually.

As a book, the plot is incredibly hard to grasp, hidden in symbolism, strange comparisons and ongoing tangents. Also it only really starts after maybe one third, which almost made me give up on it
I could not get past the first twenty pages. It was not the book's fault; I just never felt like reading what seemed like it was going to be such a grim story in a grim setting. ...more
Christa Maurice
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. ...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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“The offices in the skyscrapers were lit bright as day. The giant eye zoomed in and observed a hundred thousand faces staring at computer monitors through closed-circuit cameras; their tension, anxiety, anticipation, confusion, satisfaction, suspicion, jealousy, anger refreshed rapidly while their glasses reflected the data jumping across their screens. Their looks were empty but deep, without thought of the relationship between their lives and values, yearning for change but also afraid of it. They gazed at their screens the way they gazed at each other, and they hated their screens the way they hated each other. They all possessed the same bored, apathetic face.” 1 likes
“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
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