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Previous SFF Author: Bentley Little

SFF Author: Cixin Liu

Cixin LiuCIXIN LIU is the most prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People’s Republic of China. Liu is an eight-time winner of the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) and a winner of the Nebula Award. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked as an engineer in a power plant in Yangquan, Shanxi.
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Stuart chats with Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu is the most popular SF writer in China, having won the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) nine times, but it wasn’t until 2014 that The Three-Body Problem, the first volume of his enormously popular THREE BODY trilogy, was first published in English. Amid the Sad Puppies controversy, it deservedly won the 2015 Hugo Award (first time for an Asian writer and first translated novel to win) and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award. The Three-Body Problem was translated by Ken Liu,


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Supernova Era: A disturbing vision of a world of children

Supernova Era by Cixin Liu

Chinese science fiction author Cixin Liu has had a successful career in China for many years, winning China’s prestigious Galaxy Award nine times. But it wasn’t until 2014, when his 2007 novel The Three-Body Problem was first published in English, that he became well-known outside of Asia. Since then, some of his earlier novels, like Ball Lightning (originally published in China in 2004), have been translated and published in English. Supernova Era (2019,


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The Three-Body Problem: Imaginative SF with a mind melting problem

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

When Cixin Liu opens his novel The Three-Body Problem during the abject years of China’s Cultural Revolution, you realize just how much of Chinese history and myth is already deep into speculative territory for most of us.

The teaching of quantum mechanics is forbidden, the Copenhagen interpretation that posits that external observation leads to the collapse of the quantum wave function is considered “the most brazen expression [of reactionary idealism].” When physicist Ye Zhetai continues to espouse such reactionary ideas,


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The Dark Forest: Only 400 years to prepare for an alien invasion

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

The Dark Forest is Cixin Liu’s follow-up to The Three-Body Problem (first published in English in 2014 and selected as a Hugo and Nebula Award Finalist), and is the second book in his THREE BODY apocalyptic SF trilogy (which was already published in China back in 2010).  It took a while for the series to gain enough popularity in China to catch the attention of US publishers, but since the first book was released last year,


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Death’s End: Truly epic finale to the THREE-BODY trilogy

Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Listening to Cixin Liu’s THREE-BODY trilogy reminds me of those graphics on cosmology that illustrate our relative scale in the universe. It starts with the microscopic world of individual atoms and molecules (or even subatomic particles like quarks and neutrinos), expands outward to individual cells, organisms, and larger creatures, then jumps out further to continents and the planet Earth, zooming back to encompass our solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and then pulling out further to an endless sea of galaxies that make up our universe.


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Ball Lightning: How does ball lightning work? The answer may shock you…

Ball Lightning by Cuxin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen

Ball Lightning (2018) is a story about, well, ball lightning. It’s also about obsession, the travails of science research, the moral perils of military research, and quantum mechanics. And ghosts — in fact, quantum mechanical ghosts. I’m not sure that’s something for everyone, but it’s a lot.

The narrator, Chen, is obsessed with the phenomenon of ball lightning for a simple and macabre reason: his parents are incinerated by it in front of him in the book’s first chapter.


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To Hold Up the Sky: A bit too cool and hard sci-fi for me

To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu

In my review of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, I stated I thought the novel had gone on too long and noted that while it wrestled with “a lot of big ideas … I just wished such questions had been surrounded by richer characterization and a defter writing style.” It turns out I had pretty much the exact same reaction to Liu’s recent collection of short stories, To Hold Up the Sky (2020).


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SHORTS: Delany, Liu, VanderMeer, Robinson

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

“Aye, and Gomorrah” by Samuel R. Delany (1967, free at Strange Horizons)

“Aye, and Gomorrah” was first published as the final story in the ground-breaking anthology Dangerous Visions (1967), edited by Harlan Ellison. It was also included in Samuel Delany‘s only major short-story collection Driftglass (1971) and an expanded edition titled Aye,


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SHORTS: Gilman, Levine, Johnson, Liu, Weir

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (April 2016, free at Clarkesworld magazine, Kindle magazine issue)

In “Touring with the Alien,” an unnamed alien species has landed impenetrable bubble ships on Earth and is sending out “translators,” apparently-human people who claim that they were abducted as children and raised by the aliens.


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Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation

Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation edited and translated by Ken Liu

Invisible Planets is an interesting and varied anthology of thirteen speculative short fiction stories and three essays by seven contemporary Chinese authors, translated into English by Ken Liu. As Liu mentions in the Introduction, several of these stories have won U.S. awards (most notably the 2016 Hugo Award for best novelette, given to Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing) and have been included in “Year’s Best” anthologies.


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Next SFF Author: Ken Liu
Previous SFF Author: Bentley Little

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