All posts by Ken

Star Wars: Legends of Luke Skywalker

Today is release day for The Legends of Luke Skywalker, a set of tall tales about the Jedi Knight that have been passing from cantina to freighter and from mouth to audio receptor ever since a certain farm boy left Tatooine for the wider galaxy far, far away…

I’ve been waiting forever to share this book with my fellow Star Wars fans.

Legends of Luke Skywalker Cover

If you want to learn a little more about the book, here are a few links to interviews and reviews.

Devan Coggan interviews me for Entertainment Weekly: “Ken Liu Tells Star Wars Tall Tales in The Legends of Luke Skywalker:

Legends follows a number of young deckhands working aboard a ship bound for Canto Bight (a casino world featured in the upcoming The Last Jedi). Together, they swap six different stories about Luke, each passed down from a different storyteller. One comes from a droid who claims to have witnessed Luke singlehandedly lead a droid rebellion, while another comes from a tiny, flea-like creature who claims to have had a pivotal role in Luke’s escape from Jabba’s palace. One of the particular highlights is the tale told by a former Imperial engineer, who says that Luke Skywalker was nothing but a piece of propaganda made up by the Rebellion. The real Luke is a con artist named Luke Clodplodder, who orchestrated a massive scam with his friends aboard a ship called the Century Turkey.

SWNN (Kyle Larson)’s review “Luke Is Looking for the Force in Ken Liu’s The Legends of Luke Skywalker:

Ken Liu has crafted a collection of stories that weave through the complicated life of Luke Skywalker in the fashion of great mythology and fairy tales. If you have an appreciation for bed time stories or great tales around a campfire, you won’t at all be disappointed in this book.

Starwars.com (James Floyd) interviews me in ”Ken Liu on Exploring the ‘Perfect Mythic Figure’ In The Legends of Luke SkywalkerM:

In our world, as the deeds of famous men and women are distorted, simplified, and exaggerated into bare, impressionistic outlines, we fill them in with vivid colors according to our own understanding of the human condition and our own needs for the right story. The same person may be seen as hero or villain, as martyr or hypocrite, depending on who is doing the seeing and what colors are in their Crayola box.

As it is in our universe, so it is in the galaxy far, far away.

Beautiful Dreamer

David Gaddie’s short film “Beautiful Dreamer”, based on my short story, “Memories of My Mother,” is now available for viewing online.

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful Dreamer is a sci-fi, time travel tale set in a striking near future world of drones, robots, holograms and transport pods. But it’s also a personal story. A mother, facing a terminal disease, leaves her baby daughter and travels into space at near-light speed. Using relativity, she is able to stretch her final two years over her daughter’s entire lifetime but is only able to visit her daughter for one night every seven years.

The Book of Swords Release Day

Just for today: there’s a Reddit AMA with Gardner Dozois and the authors in the anthology from 10/12-10/13. Go and ask everything!

My story, “The Hidden Girl,” is part of Gardner Dozois’s epic fantasy anthology, The Book of Swords, published yesterday. This book contains stories from George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Kate Elliott, Garth Nix, Elizabeth Bear, and many other awesome authors.

The Book of Swords

“The Hidden Girl” is about a young woman taken away from her home to be trained to become an assassin who can move between worlds. It is, like much of my fiction, an assassin of the guards posted on the borders between genres.

Capclave 2017

I just had the most amazing weekend at Capclave with fellow GOH Neil Clarke: caught up with old friends (one I haven’t seen in person in 20 years) and made new ones; talked about books and writing and worldbuilding with brilliant fellow panelists and fans; read my Star Wars story from A Certain Point of View (“The Sith of Datawork”); cheered on winners and finalists at the WSFA Small Press Award ceremony; even ran off to enjoy the legendary Peruvian restaurant La Canela (twice! thanks to Lawrence Schoen and Alex Shvartsman).

And look at what they did with the program book. How cool is that???

The Dodo Dynasty

Many thanks to Steve Stiles for this amazing image, Alex Shvartsman for a super kind appreciation write-up, Cathy Green and the whole con committee for putting on such a great show, Kathi Overton for saving me from technology, and to Bill Lawhorn and Sarah Mitchell for taking care of me all weekend.

The Washington Science Fiction Association did an amazing job at putting on a con that felt at once inclusive, comprehensive, and intimate. If you haven’t been to Capclave, I highly highly recommend it.

LeVar Burton Reads “The Paper Menagerie”

LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Reading Rainbow) is a hero of mine. TNG is my favorite Trek, and Geordi was the greatest engineer in the galaxy. (Remember, my silkpunk epic fantasy series is all about engineers as magicians and poets.)

LeVar Burton Reads podcast

He has a new podcast, “LeVar Burton Reads” (alternate iTunes link), in which he narrates pieces of short fiction.

He’s already performed works by Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Daisy Johnson, among others. And this week’s selection is “The Paper Menagerie”. Go ahead and give it a listen. It’s an amazing performance.

Sometimes my life is unbelievable.

More on The Legends of Luke Skywalker

Want to know more about the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi books by Delilah S. Dawson, Claudia Gray, and me? EW has you covered:

“For kids coming out of that movie, for casual fans coming out of that movie, you hear about Luke Skywalker for that whole film, but you only see him for two seconds at the end. He doesn’t even say anything,” Siglain says. “This book is a book that goes into some of those stories that were told, some of those legends of Luke Skywalker. Are they true? Well, maybe. Maybe not.”

Did Luke Skywalker actually take down 20 AT-ATs in the Battle of Hoth? Was he just a charlatan who made up the story of his Death Star run? Is it possible he was at the Battle of Jakku chronicled in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels?

“What are those stories that Rey has been hearing, that the rest of the galaxy has been hearing, and what has Luke been doing since then?” Siglain says. “The framing device for this is there are a bunch of kids on a cargo ship that’s traveling to the casino world of Canto Bight. Someone says something about Luke Skywalker, and they say, ‘Oh, he was just a myth. That’s just a legend.’ And others say, ‘No, no, no. I know a story about him.’”

 Click here for the whole story.

I’m Writing a Star Wars Book

So, the news is out: I’m writing a Star Wars book as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi project. Working with the team at Lucasfilm Publishing has been such a pleasure — they’re the best.

I can’t tell you much about the book yet, except that it’s called The Legends of Luke Skywalker, it’s going to go on sale on 10/31/2017, it’s got illustrations by J. G. Jones, and it’s going to be awesome.

(Cover image below not final)

Permit me to indulge in a bit of geeky self-reflection. Star Wars, especially Star Wars books, holds a special place in my heart. When I was a kid in China (maybe third-grade?), the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut (in Chinese translation) was the very first SF book I ever read.

It was during a free-reading period, when the teacher brought out a box of books for us to each pick one. I had a choice between a biography of Confucius and Empire, and I picked the latter because the cover looked amazing.

My teacher grumbled, disappointed that I was apparently more attracted to laser swords and pew pew pew than the wisdom of the Great Sage.

Mind you, I had never seen any of the Star Wars films at that point, nor had I read any full-length SF novels (I had read Chinese translations of an abridged version of PKD’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy”). Empire literally blew my mind. I had never seen a world like this: where magic and technology were both vital; where ancient archetypes, some of which I recognized from Chinese myths and legends, pulsed with a futuristic sheen; where hope was not easy, but was always the right choice.

The Star Wars universe was where I wanted to live. It was home.

Louis Menand wrote: “Texts are always packed, by the reader’s prior knowledge and expectations, before they are unpacked.” I love that quote. And it guides me when I write.

I think a writer’s job is to build a strong, welcoming house. Readers then move in and fill the rooms with their individual experience and understanding of the world. And only then, after they’ve settled in and begun to explore, do they discover its little nooks and crannies, its hidden passages and secret staircases, and following these, they find breathtaking vistas of other planets, rogues who prize friendship more than treasure, mystical sages full of wisdom, princesses leading grand armies, and farm boys dreaming of walking among the stars …

The Star Wars universe is grand and beautiful, and it is ever expanding. To be able to build a house in this universe after my fashion, to welcome fellow fans and readers into this house, and to see them get comfortable and discover its secrets … I don’t have the words for my joy.

I’m home; I’m where I belong.

I can’t wait until you come in.

Bad VR PSAs

Cherlynn Low, writing for Engadget in “Johnnie Walker’s drunk-driving VR experience lacks subtlety”

The heavy-handedness of the video gets especially extreme at the end of the clip. As you look on at the victims of the crash, you start floating in the air, as if you were the spirit of someone who had just died. I know it’s supposed to be poignant, this moment where you’re thinking about the people who were just killed. But it was ultimately distracting and cheesy.

The idea of using VR to give the interactor a visceral experience of the consequences of drunk driving is potentially a good use of VR, a kind of story that only VR can tell. This implementation falls short, but it’s worth analyzing why.