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The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories

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* Duration: 10 hours and 30 minutes *

From an award-winning team of authors, editors, and translators comes a groundbreaking short story collection that explores the expanse of Chinese science fiction and fantasy.

In 'THE WAY SPRING ARRIVES AND OTHER STORIES', you can dine at a restaurant at the end of the universe, cultivate to immortality in the high mountains, watch roses perform Shakespeare, or arrive at the island of the gods on the backs of giant fish to ensure that the world can bloom.

Written, edited, and translated by a female and non-binary team, these stories have never before been published in English and represent both the richly complicated past and the vivid future of Chinese science fiction and fantasy.

Time travel to a winter's day on the West Lake, explore the very boundaries of death itself, and meet old gods and new heroes in this stunning new collection.


©2022 Respective authors of all stories within (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

385 pages, Hardcover

First published March 8, 2022

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Yu Chen

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 192 reviews
Profile Image for Sahitya.
1,052 reviews215 followers
February 12, 2022
Average Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.4

After enjoying quite a few translated collections of Chinese SFF short stories, I was very very excited for this one since it was first announced. And I was ecstatic when I got the arc to read. This was definitely more fun among all the collections I’ve read before and I loved how we got a mix of genres like hard sci-fi, a bit of fantasy, some contemporary, thoughtful dystopia, a historical lens and even some xianxia influences. I think the only thing I missed was having an out and out wuxia story but that’s just a personal preference. Other than the stories themselves, the idea of a collection of female and non-binary authors and translators is awesome because it gives us a hint of the vast scope of creative works being put out by these amazing authors.

The multiple essays we got about the technical and cognitive aspects of translation, both from Chinese to English and vice versa were very illuminating. I also loved getting to know the history of internet novels and it’s influence on works created by women. Overall, this was some excellent time spent and I can only hope I’ll get to read more works by all these creators in the future.

Below are my thoughts on the individual stories and essays.

The Stars We Raised by Xiu Xinyu
Translated by Judy Yi Zhou

I’m not sure I got what the story was actually about but I felt a lot of loneliness in it - a lonely boy trying to find some companionship in the stars.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Tale of Wude’s Heavenly Tribulation by Count E
Translated by Mel “etvolare” Lee

The story of a fox trying to achieve immortality through cultivation and his troubles as well as relationships with his friends, this was quite fun and entertaining.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What Does the Fox Say by Xia Jia

This is not exactly a story but the author’s exploration of language and what might happen if an algorithm attempts to write a story. How the author interprets the algorithm will string its sentences together was fascinating to read about.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Blackbird by Shen Dacheng
Translated by Cara Healey

Set in a elderly home, this is the story of a young nurse trying to get used to her new job and the oldest woman in the home, refusing to leave the world until she is given no choice. This felt both atmospheric and melancholic, with its very beautiful descriptions.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro by Anna Wu
Translated by Carmen Yiling Yan

I don’t want to say much about this tale of the rise and fall of a noble, his love for literature and the forever ongoing battle between beauty and fate - except that this was beautifully written and despite being melancholic, I loved it.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Futures of Gender in Chinese Science Fiction by Jing Tsu

Interesting essay about Chinese science fiction, it’s historical influences, the growth of authors from marginalized genders and how this changes the way SFF is written and consumed.

Baby, I Love You by Zhao Haihong
Translated by Elizabeth Hanlon

Another fascinating story about parenting, raising children, people’s changing attitudes about having children in this day and age, and what does it take to actually love your child. This was equal parts interesting, heartbreaking and infuriating.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Saccharophilic Earthworm by BaiFanRuShuang
Translated by Ru-Ping Chen

The story of plants having the ability to experience abs demonstrate emotions and helping their humans understand their own - this was unique and very vivid and imaginative.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Alchemist of Lantian by BaiFanRuShuang
Translated by Ru-Ping Chen

Told through the POV of an immortal alchemist, we follow his travails and experience his exhaustion of living many lifetimes and suffering humans but I’m glad he gets to help atleast one person.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Way Spring Arrives by Wang Nuonuo
Translated by Rebecca F. Kuang

A story about how earth’s rotations and revolutions work and how seasons change told through the amalgamation of science and fantasy, this was a very lush and vivid tale evoking a lot of beautiful imagery in my head. I truly could feel the arrival of spring and the land coming to life again.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Translation as Retelling: An Approach to translating Gu Shi’s “To Procure Jade” and Ling Chen’s “The Name of the Dragon” by Yilin Wang

This is an essay by the author about the next two stories which they have translated and I loved how they explain their process of translation, the choices they’ve made about keeping the original mandarin words vs translating the words, and how much work goes into ensuring the story retains its cultural and mythological context while also not feeling too unfamiliar to an anglophone reader. A perfect essay to be a part of this collection.

The Name of the Dragon by Ling Chen
Translated by Yilin Wang

An enchanting tale told through the POV of a dragon which has been imprisoned by humans for centuries because human’s desire for immortality is never ending and even a powerful creature like a dragon can never satiate all of them. Very anguish invoking tale.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

To Procure Jade by Gu Shi
Translated by Yilin Wang

Another story where I don’t wanna give anything much but it was super fun and I have to give credit to the main character Deyu for being such a resourceful person as well as having some good luck.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as told in a Sinitic Language by Nian Yu
Translated by Ru-Ping Chen

A very interesting but also devastating and ruthless tale about the effects of climate change, what lengths humans will go to for survival, anyone else be damned. And I thought the one point which felt extremely realistic was how despite knowing climate change would cause a lot of damage, we would choose to neglect it and destroy our planet.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Is There Such a Thing as Feminine Quietness? A Cognitive Linguistics Perspective by Emily Xueni Jin

This was an interesting essay about translation, especially when a word in one language can map to many in another lexicon and the correct translated word to choose becomes a task based on additional context. The author takes an example from the recent movie Mulan and explains the issues that can arise when translating words that may have gendered connotations and how one must be careful with not enforcing stereotypes in such instances. Very informative.

Dragonslaying by Shen Yingying
Translated by Emily Xueni Jin

This story about the age old process of how a dragon like water based creature is tortured and operated upon to change its aesthetic to please humans is brutal to read and just makes you feel revolted at the injustices being committed on the creatures as well as on the families whose occupation this is. Excellent writing though because it’s very vivid but that just makes it more of a difficult read.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

New Year Painting, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, Zhaoqiao Village by Chen Qian
Translated by Emily Xueni Jin

The story of a young girl who is bullied incessantly but turned into a goddess due to some legend that forms around her after her disappearance. This is also about karma and regret and the innocence of childhood. I found it very haunting and melancholic, but very engaging.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Portrait by Chu Xidao
Translated by Gigi Chang

I don’t wanna give away the story but just mention that every single word here is enchanting. The descriptions are utterly beautiful and evoke very strong emotions. Just gorgeous writing overall.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Woman Carrying a Corpse by Chi Hui
Translated by Judith Huang

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make sense what this story was about. Maybe it’s about resilience. Or maybe it’s about the fact that we get into this routine and rut in our life that we forget living and enjoying the life we’ve been given.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Mountain and the Secret of their Names by Wang Nuonuo
Translated by Rebecca F. Kuang

A seamless amalgamation of the devastation caused by satellite launch debris on nearby villages with the rituals of shamanism and the blessings of the ancestors, this story was fascinated and I was hooked all throughout.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Net Novels and the “She Era”: How Internet Novels opened the door for Female Readers and Writers in China by Xueting Christine Ni

I was most excited for this essay - one, because I love interacting with the author Christine on Twitter and have been very impress by some of her reviews and critiques on her website; secondly, because this essay topic feels very close to my heart. My journey into cnovel and cdrama fandom began with watching adaptations and reading fan translations of these so-called Net Novels by female authors, so I was very interested to get to know more about this industry. And the author does a great job tracing the history of this way of publishing, how many of these internet authors have succeeded in bypassing traditional publishing gatekeepers, and became very influential in the emergence of more three dimensional female characters across genres. I also ofcourse loved it when Christine mentioned some of the popular internet authors and their works, some of which I knew and had read or watched. The familiarity just makes me feel wonderful.

Writing and Translation: A Hundred Technical Tricks by Rebecca F. Kuang

What a way to end this collection. Because the first name that comes to mind when thinking of Chinese American authors is Rebecca and her Poppy War trilogy. And as she talks a lot about her ongoing PhD and the technicalities of translation on Twitter quite a bit, it was interesting to see her expand upon it in this essay. And I love her unique perspective as a diaspora author who’s relationship with both English and Chinese are different, which informs both her original writing as well as translation.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,203 reviews3,677 followers
March 9, 2022
The Way Spring Arrives is a fascinating collection of Chinese SFF in translation that also includes several essays from the translators. Everyone who worked on this project is female or non-binary and from the essays we come to understand the major significance of centering female and NB voices in Chinese literature where traditionally they had little to no representation.

As with any anthology, some of the stories were stronger than others, though every one of the non-fiction essays was excellent. Fans of R.F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War might be excited to know that she was one of the translators and has an essay included in the collection. This is well worth your time. Sci-fi stories, fantasy stories, and even some that blend the two, all drawing on different aspects of Chinese culture and history.

One of my favorites was about a game designer who is assigned a VR game about taking care of a baby and decides to push his wife to have a real baby so he can use it for research. It was smart, disturbing, and a pointed critique of capitalism. Others were beautiful, haunting, or thought-provoking but I don't want to give anything away. Just read it! I loved essays that explained some of the choices they made in translation and why, because it gives great context to reading those translated stories. The audio narration for this is excellent. I received an audio review copy from NetGalley, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Alice Poon.
Author 5 books279 followers
July 21, 2022
The stories I enjoyed were "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro" (this story is about Zhang Dai, the famous Ming dynasty historian & essayist, and his memoir "Dream Recollections of Tao'an"), "Dragonslaying" (for the story) and "The Portrait" (for the beautiful writing).
Of the essays, I liked "Web Novels and the 'She Era'", which is very informative and illuminating about the development of female-authored web novels in China.
I'm not a big fan of short stories, as I tend to forget them almost as soon as I've finished reading.
Profile Image for afternoonsunjeans.
109 reviews64 followers
Want to read
July 27, 2021
rf kuang translated the cover story and contributed an essay and the cover is just drop-dead GORGEOUS. anyways, y'all can have my soul.

tor calls this anthology "a collection of Chinese sff, written, edited, & translated by women & nonbinary creators."
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
463 reviews367 followers
April 19, 2022
I won an ARC from the publisher, but this does not impact my review.

I'm going to DNF, after pushing myself to keep reading. This collection had some interesting concepts and thought provoking essays. However there are stories I didn't understand, which could be because I'm unfamiliar with Chinese sci-fi literature. This was different then the kind of sci-fi I'm used to reading. Ultimately I couldn't relate to the characters or find something in the writing to make me want to read more.

I would recommend this for readers who are familiar with Chinese fiction and want to learn more about how it has developed in the past few years.
Profile Image for Jukaschar.
205 reviews6 followers
January 24, 2023
Interesting and informative collection of short stories and essays. I think the title is right in bringing up that these stories are translated, originally written in a different language. It seems to make all the difference. I read a lot of anthologies in the last year, but to my knowledge all of the stories were originally written in English. So I just read them. Here, with this collection, I felt myself pondering about what got lost in translation, about what is not translatable, all the time. It's a great move of the editors to bring awareness to this and it's indeed very interesting linguistically.

I liked all of the stories, some more, some less. Interestingly, most of the stories fit into either a category of urban fantasy/magical realism or a fable like fantastical setting, where it's not that important into what time period related to ours the setting falls, be it past or future. That seems to coincide with the trends that I see in web fiction originating in China that I'm aware of.

This anthology definitely makes me want to learn more about China and has made me curious for the many female writers that we'll hopefully see gain wider popularity in the next decades.
Profile Image for Katie.
317 reviews66 followers
March 6, 2022
We’re getting two different collections of translated short story collections within a single year! What a blessed time to be Chinese diaspora. The Way Spring Arrives covers a broad array of topics, from hard sci-fi stories like ‘A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language’, more traditional xianxia style works like ‘The Tale of Wude’s Heavenly Tribulation’, and stories that seamlessly blend the two together.

My personal favorites of this collection both fall under the last category. ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro’ by Anna Wu, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan crosses the worlds of Douglas Adams with a historical Ming dynasty setting. Initially whimsical, the tone switch to somber reflective piece left me with a surprising feeling of melancholy. The book’s title story, ‘The Way Spring Arrives’ by Wang Nuonuo, translated by Rebecca F Kuang, retells the scientific mechanisms of a seasonal shift from winter to spring, seamlessly integrating the Chinese mythological pantheon.

For me, the highlights of this collection weren’t the stories themselves, but the essays on CN->EN (and vice versa) translation, the history of SFF in China (and the rise of webnovels), considerations of gender in translation, and more, spliced between the short stories. For anyone interested in the history and the impact of webnovels in China, Xueting Christine Ni’s essay ‘Net Novels and the ‘She Era’: How Internet Novels Opened the Door for Female Readers and Writers in China” gives a detailed run-through. Since I do heavily read translated CN webnovels, the art of translation and the different considerations translators factor into their work has been an interest of mine and these essays were extremely thought-provoking. One particular quote that really stuck in my mind follows:

By staying absolutely true to the stereotypes that such gendered adjectives impose, are we as translators also complicit in reinforcing those stereotypes? Can actively ungendering those gendered adjectives be counted as pushing against gender roles, or is that simply butchering the original text and language?

from “Is There Such a Thing as Feminine Quietness? A Cognitive Linguistics Perspective” by Emily Xueni Jin

Overall, I rate this book a 4.5/5. The Way Spring Arrives encompasses a dazzling array of Chinese Science Fiction, curated and authored by female and non-binary creators, and includes essays giving insight into the history of Chinese SFF and translation processes.
Profile Image for Sookie.
1,135 reviews91 followers
May 21, 2022
I enjoyed reading this collection, a good mix of contemporary and retelling of classical and folk tales. The essays provide a context to translation, gender evolution and identity.

The Stars we raised by Xiu Xinyu, Tr - Judy Yi Zhou: A magical realism telling of stars and their cultivation to star dust. Amidst this short story lies in humility of humans in the vast of unknown, of friendships and the continuing exploitation and commodifying of even the fantastical for a profit.

The tale of Wude's Heavenly tribulation by Count E, Tr - Mel "etvolare" Lee: A classic story of gods, cultivation and immortality with a slight twist. A very post modern take on fable like story.

What does the Fox say? by Xia Jia: Flash fiction about literature and literary merits. may also be a little tongue-in-cheek about criticism that exists about intertextuality.

Blackbird by Shen Dacheng, Tr - Cara Healey: Story about life and death, folktales and legends, and a woman's will to just not die.

The restaurant at the end of the universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taroby Anna Wu, Tr - Carmen Yiling Yan: This is probably my favorite story in this collection. A great mix of historical and speculative fiction that works well with the setting.

The futures of genders in Chinese science fiction by Jing Tsu: An short essay on origins of Chinese science fiction, spaces in world SF stage for marginalized Chinese writers and evolving unique style of mixing classics, wuxia, xianxia genres with western approaches to SF.

Baby, I love you by Zhao Haihong, Tr - Elizabeth Hanlon: A man has a child so that he can study the child and create a virtual reality game about raising a child. Its creepy, disturbing and brilliant.

A saccharophilic Earthworm by BaiFanRuShuang, Tr - RU-Ping Chen: This was a ride, I had to re-read in multiple sections to grasp what is going on. I am also pretty sure I haven't understood completely what the author intended. Its a good throwback on language of flowers and their impact on culture.

The Alchemist of Lantian by BaiFanRuShuang, Tr - RU-Ping Chen: A very ordinary look by an extraordinary being and is very, very irritated. The author hides a lot behind seemingly innocuous words but a boulder sits behind them.

The way spring arrives by Wang Nuonuo, Tr - Rebecca F. Kuang: Spring, a time of joy, of new life and all things change brings a bittersweet budding love story to a completion and also starts a new one at the same time. This titular story gives a spin on changing seasons, love, destiny and fate. A lovely read.

Translation as Retelling by Yilin Wang: This is a fascinating essay on gender neutral pronoun - ta, meaning he/she/they. While learning, this is what I had learnt also but the author explains how in Mainland China, this pronoun has fallen out of use as gender neutral but is commonly used for "he". There is a phonetic equivalent with a different radical for "she" and with this, "they" has been erased. This essay gives a good precursor to the next two stories translated by the same author.

The Name of the Dragon by Ling Chen, Tr - Yilin Wang: What I like about this story lies in its folklore, the idea of greed and misuse of what is useful and keep taking without honoring the boundary of proprietary. But what happens when this overused entity decides to rebel, to revolt and stand up!

To procure Jade by Gu Shi, Tr - Yilin Wang: There is a fascinating layer of gender identity and the non-confirmation for either.

A brief history of Beinakan disasters as told in a Sinitic language by Nian Yu, Tr - Ru-Ping Chen: One of the most complete stories in the collection that's fantastically speculative and remains so with its mind bending world building and a generational story of survival. Absolutely gorgeous.

Is there such a thing as Feminine quietness? A cognitive linguistics perspective by Emily Xueni Jin: In recent times I have read quite a few notes on failing translations (sub titles in case of dramas) from Chinese to English. In certain cases, non gendered words gets translated to a gendered one because in English, it doesn't simply exist. While the language does amplify adjectives with gendered nuances, it becomes important for the language that's translated to, be able to enunciate it as accurately as possible.

Dragonslaying by Shen Yingying, Tr - Emily Xueni Jin: A fictional historical account of dragons, kingdoms and adventurers.

New year painting, ink and color on rice paper, Zhaoqiao villege by Shen Yingying, Tr - Emily Xueni Jin: Classic story of greed, revenge and horror.

The portrait by Chu Xidao, Tr - Gigi Chang: ...why envy the world of men and their plentiful pining.so, so, lovely.

The woman carrying a corpse by Chi Hui, Tr - Judith Huang: A fable style story, the metaphors are classics, and the ending, a tad bittersweet.

The mountain and the secret of their names by Wang Nuonuo, Tr - Rebecca F. Kuang: Story about family and the legacies that there are.

Net novels and the "She Era": How Internet novels opened the door for female readers and writers in China by Xueting Christine Ni: As someone who deep dived into Chinese drama after watching adaptation of a web novel, this essay shines a light on web novel history and the influence it has on contemporary Chinese entertainment and its culture. There is a degree of rebelliousness as a lot of them are published anonymously, exploring sexuality and gender, and influencing diverse conversations.

Writing and Translation: A hundred technical tricks by Rebecca F. Kuang: Works as a great final word.
Profile Image for Riley Neither.
Author 1 book8 followers
February 4, 2023
Like any anthology, this one's a mix. There were a couple stories I really liked, a couple I didn't care for at all, and a lot in-between. For something from a "visionary team of female and nonbinary creators," it was disappointingly heteronormative; there was no queer content except a few characters who (in translation) were given neutral pronouns, and a lot of the stories didn't even particularly challenge gender roles or stereotypes. This would've been a 3-star read for me if not for the essays; I found those very interesting and engaging, and they really highlighted a real theme of the anthology: nothing to do with gender, but a lot to do with language and the ways it can shape stories and embody cultures.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,141 followers
January 20, 2023
3.5 stars. I actually enjoyed the essays more than the stories. There is this one from Xueting C. Ni on net novels, R.F. Kuang and Emily Xueni Jin about translation - all of them excellent.

For the stories, as usual it is subjective, right? so my reaction to them are still mostly, eh, this was okay but not memorable. One I even DNFed because it was way too boring. Yet I do have three ult favorites: a charming story about a restaurant at the end of the universe (yes, a HHGTTG's homage) that delivered takeouts to a Ming Dynasty nobleman by Anna Wu, a disturbing story about digital and real life babies by Zhao Haihong and another disturbing story about mermaids by Shen Yingying.

For these three and the essays, it's definitely worth to read this book. Who knows, you''ll fall in love with more stories than I did.
Profile Image for Angela.
419 reviews921 followers
November 10, 2022
This is a short story anthology with essays by the translators. I picked this up because I loved the project of this work and I was not disappointed. Although I do have the unpopular opinion of enjoying the short stories more than the essays but I tend to love short stories more than most so that might also have something to do with it. Like all anthologies there will be hits and misses but I think even the worst story in here was an average, well written exploration.

My favorites were:
The Stars We Raised - fascinating look at a community and its relationship to the land and commentary on societal pressures and parenting. Just loved the quiet tale in this one as we watch kids raise stars until they are suppose to stop and what happens when one doesn't stop after the shine wears off?

What Does the Fox Say? - Very few flash fiction works stick with me, but I liked this one. Found it clever and well executed.

Baby, I Love You - The "Black Mirror" story of the collection. Really explores using your children for profit and potential marketing for a virtual reality parent simulator.

A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language - Probably my favorite of the collection and the first one I think of when I think of this work. Its one of the longer pieces in the anthology but completely engaged me the entire time as we learned about the end of one species. The world building and commentary of that story is top notch, pair that with an engaging premise and that's my favorite kind of sci-fi short story.

Dragonslaying - This was disturbing, and not even because I was surprised by the reveals, that said it sticks with me

The Woman Carrying a Corpse - This one reminded me of folktales, and I love folktales.

The Mountain and the Secret of Their Names - The intersection of ancestral knowledge, science and contemporary technology was amazing to explore in this one, also found it incredibly engaging.
Profile Image for Tilly.
205 reviews9 followers
February 20, 2022
*ARC received in exchange for an honest review*

This is a brilliant collection of short stories and essays, unlike anything I’ve read before. I was drawn to the stunning cover and incredible subtitle (a visionary team of female and non-binary creators, heck yes!!), and having previously only read one of the authors, R.F. Kuang, I was excited to discover some new contemporary fantasy/sci-fi writers.

Throughout the 22 chapters, I was taken on poignant and existential journeys through new planets and parallel timelines and the lands of the gods, experiencing heartbreak and wonder and magic along with the characters. I also emerged with a whole new appreciation for literary translators and the intricacies of gender and genre in Chinese literature after reading the five thoughtful essays included in the collection.

I love reading short stories and I tend to prolong the experience, enjoying just one or two at a time and really letting them sit with me. I’ll be thinking about the stories in this collection for a long time.

Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Cozy Reading Times.
410 reviews11 followers
September 19, 2022
4.25*
A fascinating and innovative anthology that offers a broad variety of stories and essays.
Mabye not every single story was an absolute hit, but there was no real flop either. Even half a month after finishing this book, much of this book stays in my head and some of what I read still makes me emotional.
Definitely one of the better short story collections I've read and one I would reread.
It simply was very well-rounded.
Profile Image for Kristenelle.
237 reviews29 followers
August 17, 2022
A lot of these stories/essays were very middle of the road for me. I didn't connect deeply with very many and I have to wonder if I'm missing some cultural context. Are there Chinese stories, tropes, story telling styles, and/or cultural values that I don't know that would have deepened my understanding?

That said, there were a couple stories I enjoyed a lot and several essays that were really fascinating. I also buddy read this with a couple friends and we had a wonderful time discussing all these stories/essays together. I'm very happy to have spent my time reading this collection and discussing it with friends.

Sexual violence? I don't remember any. Other content warnings? Phew, I'm not at all confident I remember all the stories well enough to say. There was some death and bullying.
Profile Image for Jordan (Forever Lost in Literature).
837 reviews115 followers
March 9, 2022
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories: A Collection of Chinese Science Fiction and Fantasy in Translation from a Visionary Team of Female and Nonbinary Creators is an imaginative and incredibly creative collection of stories from a fantastic array of Chinese authors. This is a magical, enlightening, and entertaining collection of stories that have so much heart in them and that are simply filled to the brim with imagination. Since there are so many stories in this collection, I’ll share my thoughts on a few of my favorites below.

“The Stars We Raised” by Xiu Xinyu, translated by Judy Yi Zhou: “The Stars We Raised” is the opening story of this collection and I think it was a perfect way to start this collection. It evoked a lot of different emotions from me, from awe to intrigue to even a bit of a melancholy air, and it had such a great sense of imagination that I think captured something really special.

“Blackbird” by Shen Dacheng, translated by Cara Healey: This was a rather melancholy and somewhat eerie story that I found myself particularly captivated by. This one features a modern setting in an elderly home and is about a young nurse and an elderly woman, the latter of which is not quite ready to move on from life just yet. I thought this one was exceptionally thought-provoking.

“The Way Spring Arrives” by Wang Nuonuo, translated by R.F. Kuang: This titular story was a beautiful story about the ways in which the earth rotates and how the seasons are changed throughout the year. I think this was a great choice for the title of this collection because it really evoked a sense of freshness that fits well for both the upcoming season and the creativity of this collection.

“The Portrait” by Chu Xidao, translated by Gigi Chang: This was such an incredibly beautifully written and translated story. The story itself was not necessarily my favorite, but the writing was so elegant and delicately crafted that I couldn’t drag myself away from it.

“The Woman Carrying a Corpse” by Chi Hui, translated by Judith Huang: This story is about exactly what the title says: a woman carrying a corpse. We encounter a variety of different people that the woman meets on her travels and all of the questions they ask her about the corpse. This is probably one of “weirdest” stories, and I can’t say I know the exact theme or message it was meant to be, but I still feel like I got a lot from this woman’s journey. Definitely an odd one, but one whose format I enjoyed as much as I did the content.

There are a couple essays sprinkled throughout as well, such as “Translation as Retelling” and “The Future of Gender in Chinese Science Fiction.” I thought these essays were really well written and fascinating/informative and appreciated their inclusion. My only sort of problem is that they felt fairly randomly included and I think made the transition from short story to essay a bit choppy and didn’t flow all that well.

This is a large collection with over 15 stories, so it’s well worth the read and sure to have at least a couple stories to your taste! Overall, I’ve given The Way Spring Arrives 4 stars.

*I received a copy of The Way Spring Arrives courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Charlott.
285 reviews62 followers
April 24, 2022
As the subtitle states, The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories is a short story anthology of speculative fiction stories translated from Chinese "From a Visionary Team of Female and Nonbinary Creators". The stories span a wide variety of speculative from myth retellings to science fiction. As with such anthologies often the case, there were some stories I liked more than others but all stories had me throughout engaged and introduced me to writers I had not read before.

But what I really loved about this book was that between the stories, there were also a couple of essays included which looked at gender and Chinese speculative fiction wrtiting, the role of online publishing ("internet novels"), and the ins-and-outs of translating. While I wished for a bit more depth with the solely gender focussed essay, I wholeheartedly loved the essays thinking through issues of translations.

For example, Yilin Wang states in the essay "Translations as Retellings: An Approach to Translating Gu Shi's 'To Produce Jade' and Ling Chen's 'The Name of the Dragon'": "I want to give Anglophone audiences the same immersive reading experience as readers of the soruce texts and not present the tales as unknowable Other, yet at the same time I also want to preserve linguistic and cultural differences, even if they may at times distance non-Chinese readers." And Rebecca F. Kuang asks in "Writing and Translation: A Hundred Technical Tricks": "Perhaps it was once reasonable - say, in the eigteenth century - to think white Americans were unfamiliar with dim sum and guanxi; today, those terms are firmly entrenched within the English lexicon. Why bring the text closer to the reader, when the reader has already moved closer to the source?"
Profile Image for Dani.
224 reviews12 followers
March 25, 2022
4.5 stars ROUNDED UP

ASIAN FEMALE AND NONBINARY CREATORS ARE THE RIGHTFUL HEIRS TO THE SCI-FI/FANTASY THRONE. THE WAY SPRING ARRIVES IS THEIR CORONATION CEREMONY.

Thank you to all the folks who contributed to this collection of short stories and essays. As part of the Asian diaspora, this is the kind of book I demand more of and find the greatest joy in reading.


My notes on each short story/essay:

The Stars We Raise:
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
- Captivating and strangely beautiful. Baby star-creatures that grow into something ugly and nearly lifeless. What is their purpose? Can they learn, understand, think? What relationship can a person really have with something so unknown?

The Tale of Wude's Heavenly Tribulation:
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Shape-shifting, heavenly tribulations, mischievous, deceptive ghosts, inter-species friendships.
- "Addressing it to the 'Assorted Deities Under the Banner of the Venerated Celestial Who Disseminates the Sound of Thunder of the Primordials in the Nine Heavens' will suffice." is the best quote lol

What Does the Fox Say?
- ⭐⭐⭐.75
- a short and interesting musing about how stories are created, and a contemplation on how AI might function in creating a meaningful or sensible story.
- the resulting story was actually really cool to read. The author's note at the end was thought-provoking

Blackbird
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Although this story was mostly rather mundane and existentially drab, I found it engaging. So descriptively visual that it made me feel a tiny bit uncomfortable. I love this style of writing.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro
-⭐⭐⭐.5
- An oddity. Time travelling mashed taro, alternate realities, etc.

The Futures of Gender in Chinese Science Fiction
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Baby, I Love You
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
- VERY strange, uncomfortable, awkward, and served kind of deadpan.
- Can technology give us something better than reality?
- Is it possible to feel more for a simulation than the real thing?
- Does parental instinct exist?

The Saccharophilic Earthworm
- ⭐⭐
- Performing plants, a woman with forgotten dreams, and a love with forgotten warmth

The Alchemist of Lantian
- ⭐⭐⭐.5

The Way Spring Arrives
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐.25
- "He needed to spend sixteen thousand years, experiencing the same thing sixteen thousand times, to see clearly what love was. Only then could he grow the heart of a human."
- Beautifully told. Loved this story.

Translation as Retelling
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
- What a fascinating glimpse into the world of storytelling in translation.
- Translations as a form of retelling. This highlights the specific ways in which a translator must consider the text they are translating - from the voice of the narrative, to gender pronouns (or lackthereof), to untranslatable cultural and mythical allusions, etc.
- Non-binary characters in Ancient Chinese tales may have been erased because of the loss of / changing meaning of gender-neutral pronouns.

The Name of The Dragon
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Humans are assholes that take advantage of and destroy even the greatest and most powerful that nature has to offer.
- You really shouldn't fuck with dragons.

Procure Jade
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- a little grammatical misunderstanding leads to a wild goose chase for a spring of immortality, but a lowly Eunuch happens upon a strange metal fish that has a thirst for ghost blood 🙃

A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language
- ⭐⭐⭐.75
- gave me post-environmental-apocalyptic existential anxiety AND space travel anxiety so that was fun
- wtf is out there in space, man?!

Is There Such a Thing as Feminine Quietness? Cognitive Linguistics Perspectives
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- another insightful essay regarding the intricacies and difficulties of translation.
- an a monolingual (😔) person, I am vastly unaware these big linguistic questions that face most, if not all, translators
- the issue of different languages having single lexical terms versus "equivalence clusters" of different words under the same semantic umbrella ("quiet" because the term most prominently addressed in this essay)
- the issue of often not being able to maintain similar structurally formed equivalent sentences in translation creates more cognitive effort to restructure and reproduce meanings in a target language
- also how language can both gender or un-gender its subject and how translators consider stereotyping and reinforcing stereotypes through their work.

Dragonslaying:
⭐⭐⭐⭐.25
- nothing to do with dragons but a lot to do with slaying the majority of a single species over the course of hundreds of years via medical transformation and somewhat unintentional extermination?
- Dark, and only got darker near the end.
- Truly terrible. A shout out to all the horrible things humans are willing to do to cause harm in the name of fulfilling human desires.

New Year Painting, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, Zhaoqiao Village
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- A story of the pain caused by bullying, a blessed and cursed painting, justice, and revenge.

The Portrait
- ⭐⭐⭐
- weird

The Woman Carrying a Corpse
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Mountain and the Secret of Their Names
- ⭐⭐⭐.75
- What's more powerful: a rocket, an algorithm, or a mountain infused with the secrets of innumerable ancestors?

Net Novels and the "She Era": How Internet Novels Opened the Door for Female Readers and Writers in China
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- the internet created a platform by which female creators could transcend barriers such as patriarchal standards in the publishing industry, in order to reach an audience and have their work judged purely for its merit rather than for its author's gender.
- The rise of smartphones allowed for even more access to this space by female authors and readers alike. It also made comfortable, convenient consumption of these works, thus growing the internet novel industry even further.
- without publishers mediating between them, readers and authors became more connected than ever
- Women's internet lit broke taboos around sex, female desire, pleasure, the female body, queerness, etc
- female net authors have not only shifted the gatekeeping of the publishing industry in China, but have also helps shift societal understandings and representations of women even in male-written works.

Writing and Translation: a Hundred Technical Tricks
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- "When moving between languages also involves moving between worlds, perhaps it helps that the translators, too, are people who are used to being on the outside, who are used to navigateing hidden spaces, and who are familiar with the challenge of making themselves understood."
Profile Image for Charlie.
504 reviews23 followers
April 14, 2022
4.5 STARS

General thoughts first, content warnings are included in each short story or essay's mini review. This anthology includes stories about so many different themes and topics, so many different approaches to story telling and accentuating various aspects. I'm sure there is something for everybody within this collection, which also includes some very insightful essays on translation and female and nonbinary Chinese writers in general. A few stories were inspired by folklore and Chinese mythology, others by Chinese history and some focused more on the human experience, embedded in Chinese culture which gave it a lot more specific meaning.
If anyone is worried about picking this up because there is a feeling of apprehension of not understanding the stories because of their cultural context or anything, I can only encourage you to give it a try. To me, many of the story ideas and themes were very innovative and I immensely enjoyed diving into each new story. The essays are an additional delight, I loved the insights of the translators, being interested in translation myself, and enjoyed learning about the impact a maybe not so perfect translation can have on people.

Following are mini-reviews on every short story and essay in this collection including content warnings!


The Stars We Raised (逃跑星辰) by Xiu Xinyu 修新羽, Translated by Judy Yi Zhou 周易
CW: bullying, mention of suicide, blood
This story touches on multiple themes: growing up and power structures among children in connection with bullying, as well as the change of one’s perspective on life and events when getting older. There was also an aspect of human’s relationship with nature and how we exploit it in any way possible. People in this story very quickly gave up trying to communicate or understand the stars, understand where they came from and maybe even what they want but instead began using their ground up remains as cement additive. It wasn’t even mentioned whether or not that made any sort of difference or was in any way, shape or form different from regular cement. I also really enjoyed the stark contrast between what happened in the village and life in the countryside that was shown where the stars play an integral part of day-to-day life and people in the city who have no connection to the phenomenon at all.

The Tale of Wude’s Heavenly Tribulations (五德渡劫记) by Count E (E 伯爵), Translated by Mel “etvolare” Lee
light CW for: violence, burned bodies
This one read like a story from mythology and while I’m familiar with the concept of spirits and gods in Chinese mythology, I’m not sure how much of this is actually rooted in actual stories. I really enjoyed it either way, it is a story about the search for identity and belonging as well as proving oneself. It is very magical full of animal spirits and ghosts and gods. I also really loved the ending.

What Does the Fox Say? 狐狸说什么? By Xia Jia 夏笳
CW: none
This essay was an interesting exploration of story structures, linguistics and intertextuality as well as artificial intelligence. In the author’s note, Xia Jia explains what it feels like to write a text in a secondary language which I could definitely identify with. There is a lot of word associations and sometimes when you think you’ve come up with a great way to phrase a sentence, you eventually realize it was inspired by someone else’s work.

Blackbird 黑鸟 by Shen Dacheng 沈大成, Translated by Cara Healey 贺可嘉
CW: mention of sexual harassment, mention of death, mention of terminal illnesses
A very simple and serene story about something not-quite-natural. I did enjoy it but so far has definitely been my least favorite story in this collection. It ended very abruptly, too, in my opinion and although it gives incentive to think upon what one has read, I really wish there would have been some more reflection and discussion in the text itself about what it means for Mrs. An to “refuse”.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro 宇宙尽头的餐馆之太极芋泥 by Anna Wu 吴霜, Translated by Carmen Yiling Yan 言一零
CW: none
Beginning with a scene referencing one of the great works of science fiction (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), a story involving time travel, Chinese dynasties and a restaurant at the end of the world unfurls. I absolutely loved it! I immensely enjoyed the time travel aspect, albeit in a more passive role. The changes in POV made this very fast-paced, although it is not action-packed in any way.

The Futures of Genders in Chinese Science Fiction by Jing Tsu 石静远
CW: none
An impressive essay in which the author characterizes and criticizes the limitations of the terms “gender” and “genre” and recounts how Chinese science fiction has developed and which different approaches to the genre female and nonbinary authors take. I really loved the author’s insights and was especially intrigued by what was mentioned as one of the first works of Chinese science fiction “Nüwa shi” or The Stone of Goddess Nüwa, which I will probably have no luck finding in English… I also really liked how the author pointed out the intersectionality of the entire genre and also made a point in differentiating between works written about women and nonbinary people and works written by them.

Baby, I Love You 宝贝宝贝我爱你 by Zhao Haihong 赵海虹, Translated by Elizabeth Hanlon 韩恩立
CW: mention of speciesism, blackmail, manipulation
Zhao Haihong skillfully brought multiple issues together in this story and I thought it was brilliant! There are so many different angles one could potentially think about: technology and its impact on humanity and out social lives, the somewhat persisting belief that having children is the norm, the question of whether or not to give up one’s career in favor of raising kids. This story was so creative and I really liked how many different topics it touched upon, I’m deeply impressed!

A Saccharophilic Earthworm 嗜糖蚯蚓 by BaiFanRuShuang白饭如霜, Translated by Ru-Ping Chen 陈汝平
CW: life-changing injury
This story is like a lush garden and it only comes full circle with the title in the very last paragraph. Flora was going to be a director for stage productions but she got in an accident and now has to make do with directing the flowers in her apartment. My favorite aspect of this story was definitely Qiao and his changing attitude towards Flora and the plants. I’m intrigued by the sacchrophilic earthworm though, I wish there was more about them in the story.

The Alchemist of Lantian 蓝田半人 by BaiFanRuShuang白饭如霜, Translated by Ru-Ping Chen 陈汝平
CW: mention of terminal illness
The protagonist faces a dilemma of remaining the way they were meant to be, distant and unemotional, and using their power to help someone. I perked up at the mention of Xi’an and Qin Shi Huang. The story is quite short but I really loved what we got. The writing style was also much more personal than the other stories so far.

The Way Spring Arrives 春天来临的方式 by Wang Nuonuo 王诺诺, Translated by Rebecca F. Kuang 匡灵秀
CW: mention of terminal illness
The titular short story of this collection certainly does not disappoint! I’m sure a lot of what happens in this story is inspired by Chinese mythology in some way or another. I especially loved the connection between Xiaoqing and Goumang and the giant fish, as well as the thought of these “gods” or rather beings responsible for the seasons living together in a village. I also really loved the lore of this story with the axis of the earth, the gear at its center and the journey Xiaoqing and Goumang go on, as well as how there is a certain cycle to how these things go.

Translation as Retelling: An Approach to Translating Gu Shi’s “To Procure Jade” and Ling Chen’s “The Name of the Dragon” by Yilin Wang 王艺霖
CW: none
Another impressive essay that talks about the challenges in translating stories that are based on folklore and myth. I have always been intrigued by the process of translating literature and I know Chinese literature has a long tradition, there are usually a plethora of intertextual references and that word plays in Chinese are incredibly hard to translate without explanations. I might actually come back to this essay eventually as I’m taking a course about translation studies this semester. My favorite part of the essay was the author elaborating about the use of pronouns in Chinese and how they only became gendered very recently at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Name of the Dragon 应龙 by Ling Chen 凌晨, Translated by Yilin Wang 王艺霖
CW: slavery, violence, death, beheading
This story about the dragon Yinglong is framed by two humans finding a vase with the picture of the dragon on it. I loved the contrast between the writing styles of both story levels. This also depicts dragons not as majestic, powerful entities but rather as Yinglong being enslaved by humans and used for their gains and advantages. That is until eventually the dragon has had enough.

To Procure Jade 得玉 by Gu Shi 顾适, Translated by Yilin Wang 王艺霖
CW: blood, death, violence
This was a delightful story, and with the knowledge of how the translator went about translating this even more so to me! I also had some background knowledge about Chinese history and was familiar with Empress Dowager Cixi and I also know some Chinese which made me appreciate the word play even more!

A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language 衡平公式 by Nian Yu 念语, Translated by Ru-Ping Chen 陈汝平
CW: natural disaster, death, mention of genocide
This mirrors so many issues humanity is currently confronted with but frames them in an entirely new narrative and it was absolutely brilliant! It’s a story about shortsightedness and ignorance, the unending belief of a people to be better than others and acting according to that belief. It’s also a story about scientific prowess, learning from the past and being faced with natural disasters out of one’s control. I really enjoyed the many layers of this and how it painted a frighteningly accurate picture of humans (though in this world, Beinakans are in the role we are in in real life).

Is There Such a Thing as Feminine Quietness? A Cognitive Linguistics Perspective by Emily Xueni Jin 金雪妮
CW: none
Another interesting essay on translation and linguistics that I greatly enjoyed! It talks about the challenges of translating Chinese to English and vice versa in connection to meaning, context and connotation and questions whether translators play a part in reinforcing stereotypes by translating gendered words, comprehensively examined through the example of a translation of the word “quiet” in Mulan and how a play on words can get lost in translation when translators choose certain (in this case gendered) words.

Dragonslaying 屠龙 by Shen Yingying 沈璎璎, Translated by Emily Xueni Jin 金雪妮
CW: sexism, slavery, mutilation, blood, graphic violence, graphic description of operation
Probably the most gruesome story so far, I did enjoy reading it. Especially the association one has before starting to read with the title and then the story turns that expectation around and delivers something horrific (that is regarding the content). There was just enough worldbuilding and lore to this that pulled everything that happened into perspective. The reader is faced with extreme violence and the question of whether or not that is necessary is posed. Albeit graphic and violent, I did like this story.

New Year Painting, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, Zhaoqiao Village 年画 by Chen Qian 陈茜, Translated by Emily Xueni Jin 金雪妮
CW: mention of bullying, haunting
The slightly creepy tone of this story rounded out the collection for me, there is a little bit of everything. I really loved the setting (because I have actually been to Zhejiang Province and the countryside of that region and had no trouble picturing the landscape) and although this was definitely not the most interesting story to me, it was entertaining. Still, definitely among my least favorite of the collection.

The Portrait 画妖 by Chu Xidao 楚惜刀, Translated by Gigi Chang 张菁
CW: death
Another story that was not really my style. It was fine, we get to know about Danhong, a master painter struggling to complete his masterpiece and Suxuan. This one is definitely my least favorite out of all the stories in this collection and I was slightly bored reading it.

The Woman Carrying a Corpse 背尸体的女人 by Chi Hui 迟卉, Translated by Judith Huang 錫影
CW: corpses, death
This reads like a myth or a tale from folklore and it is a hauntingly beautiful metaphor. It’s very simple but also incredibly powerful imagery at the same time – a woman walking down the road carrying a corpse of a loved one. Multiple people come up to her and ask why she is doing what she does and she tries to explain but there really isn’t any good explanation. The story definitely struck a chord for me.

The Mountain and the Secret of Their Names 山和名字的秘密 by Wang Nuonuo 王诺诺, Translated by Rebecca F. Kuang 匡灵秀
CW: death (of a loved one)
I really enjoyed the thought that was at the center of this story: that a place and people can live on in names and that your heritage can somehow be reflected in names. There is power in names and while we usually use them to identify ourselves, they also carry so much more meaning. The approach to that in the story was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it.

Net Novels and the “She Era”: How Internet Novels Opened the Door for Female Readers and Writers in China by Xueting Christine Ni 倪雪亭
CW: none
A captivating essay that gives insight into China’s internet novel culture and its influences and development. I really loved the way Xueting Christine Ni discusses the way internet novels shaped Chinese internet culture and how it became a “safe space” for exploration of identity and more despite censorship and pertaining cultural and social traditions and conventions – especially for female writers.

Writing and Translation: A Hundred Technical Tricks by Rebecca F. Kuang 匡灵秀
CW: none
This essay goes into the intricacies of translation and how it has re-configured the author’s writing process in a way. I really loved Rebecca F. Kuang’s examination of what is important when it comes to translating Chinese to English and what she paid special attention to while doing so. Social and cultural awareness and specific connotations and knowledge that can be assumed to be common among native speakers of a certain language play big parts in the most difficult aspects of translations and to me that has always been very intriguing.
Profile Image for Connie.
259 reviews
February 21, 2023
Ty Josie for the rec u always have good recs ! Some stories were a lil nostalgic of the Chinese fantasy shows I watched as a kid .. I like how experimental this collection is I like how there are essays sprinkled in .. my fave story is def Baby I Love You by zhao haihong it is a commentary on parenthood and AI and how humanness is special and irreplaceable ugh I loved it I love when morality is grey ! The latter stories didn’t hit has hard but that’s ok
Profile Image for Yev.
596 reviews16 followers
May 30, 2022
The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, Yu Chen & Regina Kanyu Wang, editors (2022)

As stated on the cover, "FROM A VISIONARY TEAM OF FEMALE AND NONBINARY CREATORS"
All of the authors, translators, and editors are female or nonbinary. Though, only two listed their pronouns as she/they in their included biographical material, so not really much of the latter. I was going to have this as part of next month's theme, but it turned out that despite the preceding statement there's essentially zero LGBT content, which isn't what I expected. So, may as well post it while still doing Asian works.

The Stars We Raised - Xiu Xinyu (2017)
Rural children raise baby stars, but then their parents grind them up into a cement addictive. Urban children are uninterested in them. Possibly an allegory about hopes/dreams/personality/etc and how children feel about what is done to them.
Blah

The Tale of Wude’s Heavenly Tribulation - Count E (2011)
A black fox with 500 years of cultivation and is able to transform into a human, among various other abilities, prepares for his heavenly tribulation to proceed to the next level of cultivation.
Ok

What Does the Fox Say? - Xia Jia (2022)
A story about how an AI would generate a story using tropes, memes, and various rules to demonstrate creativity.
Meh

Blackbird - Shen Dacheng (2020)
A young nurse at a nursing home wonders about the elderly woman who has refused death several times.
Meh

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Tai-Chi Mashed Taro - Anna Wu (2016)
Li Jia, famed throughout the multiverse, orders takeout for a mortal that has caught his attention.
Meh

Baby, I Love You - Zhao Haihong (2002)
A programmer has been tasked with developing a holographic baby raising simulator. In order to make it as realistic as possible, he must convince his wife to have a child. Trouble ensues. Three years before this was written, Babyz was released. I was rather conflicted by this story, but I guess it won me over with the ending.
Enjoyable

A Saccharophilic Earthworm - BaiFanRuShuang (2005)
A troubled woman is a stage director for her plants to the dismay of her husband.
Blah

The Alchemist of Lantian - BaiFanRuShuang (2005)
This has the same translator and author as the previous story, but it's written entirely differently. It's filled with cursing, slang, and generally written in a very modern and youthful way. A being accidentally destroys something valuable to a human and feels bad about it and tries to provide recompense.
Meh

The Way Spring Arrives - Wang Nuonuo (2019)
A master and apprentice go on a fantastical journey to bring forth Spring.
Meh

The Name of the Dragon - Ling Chen (2007)
A dragon sealed away in a box for the last 600 years feels that it has been oppressed by humans for too long. It was already killed once and had to cultivate its soul for 4,000 years to get a body again.
Blah

To Procure Jade - Gu Shi (2013)
A eunuch is tasked with find a spring of eternal youth for the Empress, but decides not to do that because they would rather just live their life instead, so they steal imperial treasures and live off the proceeds. However, they keep a single treasure, a very ominous artifact indeed.
Meh

A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language - Nian Yu (2018)
An aquatic alien civilization persists through time immemorial until they must flee their home planet due to the imminent explosion of their star. Then, they'll do whatever it takes survive. Anything, anything at all.
Enjoyable

Dragonslaying - Shen Yingying (2006)
A doctor seeks out a dragonslayer for their supposed prowess at surgery. Dragonslaying is the surgical process of turning the fins of the aquatic slave race into legs, so that they may more easily serve humans as slaves. What she finds is far worse than she imagined.
Enjoyable

New Year Painting, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, Zhaoqiao Village - Chen Qian (2020)
An art restorer comes across a burned painting in pieces and slowly puts it back together. The commissioner proclaims it CURSED, but it's posted to social media anyway. An elderly woman comes to buy it, knowing its true nature.
Ok

The Portrait - Chu Xidao (2003)
The greatest painter in the land is the sought by all, but he's met his match with the newest woman he has to paint, because neither of them are what they seem.
Meh

The Woman Carrying a Corpse - Chi Hui (2019)
I don't know what this is an allegory for. I could guess, but it'd almost certainly be entirely wrong. It's exactly what the title says. A woman carries a corpse and many people ask her why.
Blah

The Mountain and the Secret of Their Names - Wang Nuonuo (2019)
A village is by a satellite launching site and debris falls and destroys property and kills people. However, with the warding ritual its effects can be minimized with the blessing of the mountain. A grandfather tries to convince his grandson of the value of their traditional ways, but the grandson believes only technology can be the answer. However, he allows that perhaps there's a secret of which he's unaware.
Ok

There were also five serious academic essays.
Profile Image for Jassmine.
616 reviews45 followers
February 1, 2023
Hot water is lighter, so it floats on the surface. The giant fish also float near the surface, and guide the hot water from the South Sea to the North Sea. That’s what ocean currents are. They bring moist air and heat. When the water vapor reaches dry land and meets cold air, spring rains will fall. Then all living things will sprout roots and germinate. That’s what spring is.

And once again, I got so behind on my reviews... so... I'll just keep this one short.
1. I had expectations they weren't met...
2. Hey! It's not my fault! The title used the words like "visionary" and "nonbinary"...
3. The stories are mostly heteronormative. They work with neutral pronouns quite a lot, but most of the stories don't really seem to be working with the marginalized perspective.
4. The editorial decision to mix short-stories with essays was amazing one and it worked so well for this book! Sadly, I liked most of the essays more than most of the stories...
5. The ideas were here, but the execution felt often slopy.
6. I listened to the audiobook and the narration is fine. Nothing really extra, but... not annoying either.
7. For me Dragonslayers was the best of the bunch. It wasn't an easy read - it was about the marginalized perspective. It was narratively very well executed, it was a little predictable, but that was because it made sense... Loved this one. A lot of the other ones get really interesting ideas, but the ending almost always let me down... then there were few which were well executed, but those didn't really felt like they had the ideas... (I went into the details for each story in the thread...)
To sum this up... it was disappointing. To be fair, I'm very demanding when it comes to short-stories. These didn't felt chiseled, they felt like they needed some more editing... I was getting more and more annoyed as I was nearing the end, so... that may also play a part. But... it's a read I don't regret, I definitely need to come back to some of the essays!

BRed at WBTM: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...
Profile Image for James Horn.
237 reviews4 followers
June 5, 2022
Another grab bag of short fiction. As is usually the case with collections of this nature, the quality varies. This ranged from great to relatively uninteresting. I actually found the essays regarding translation more interesting than many of the stories here.

The standouts here are “A Brief History of Beinakan Disasters as Told in a Sinitic Language 衡平公式” and “The Stars We Raised 逃跑星辰” These were excellent and worth picking the entire collection up for. I also particularly liked “The Portrait 画妖” but was saddened that it ended so abruptly. Would love to see this developed into an extended, deeper novella. I guess Dragonslaying 屠龙 had its moments too, but the rest, if I’m being honest I barely remember, and I’m writing this having just finished it.

I think the translation here is excellent and the final essay made me appreciate the need for a collection like this, but it just didn’t knock my socks off. Try it though, you might enjoy it more than I did.
Profile Image for tsanmii.
51 reviews
August 11, 2022
i am so sorry, i wanted this to be the exception to my anthology/short-story meh-dislike train, but it just reaffirmed it. the title story was so good tho

edit: tho obv i acknowledge the inspiration/basis of these stories from traditional chinese folklore, that i obv don't know much abt. having knowledge abt those will def impact your reading of the stories. but at least it piqued my interest and got me to spend a while on wiki :))
5,061 reviews57 followers
March 14, 2022
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

It's a nice collection of speculative fiction by Chinese authors. Some of them were pretty good, but several of them I just didn't get. If you're looking for something different, this might be for you.
Profile Image for Fei.
483 reviews
January 15, 2023
Wow what a collection and team of authors! Admittedly some of the stories resonated less because the cultural references are too loose for someone of the diaspora, but i did enjoy the variety. Also especially enjoyed the non fiction essays commenting on the science of translation as well as the cultural importance of women's writing/web spaces in China for gender parity.
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