Category Archives: writing

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.

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.

Bridging Infinity

Update: You can enter a drawing for a free copy of the anthology on Tor.com.

Jonathan Strahan has been editing the Infinity Project series of anthologies for some time now, which focus on hard scifi tales by a variety of voices in genre fiction.

The latest entry is Bridging Infinity, described thus:

Sense of wonder is the lifeblood of science fiction. When we encounter something on a truly staggering scale – metal spheres wrapped around stars, planets rebuilt and repurposed, landscapes transformed, starships bigger than worlds – we react viscerally. Fear, reverence, admiration – how else are we to react to something so grand?

The anthology features stories from Alastair Reynolds, Pat Cadigan, Stephen Baxter, Charlie Jane Anders, Tobias S. Buckell & Karen Lord, Karin Lowachee, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Gregory Benford & Larry Niven, Robert Reed, Pamela Sargent, Allen M. Steele, Pat Murphy & Paul Doherty, An Owomoyela, Thoraiya Dyer, and yours truly.

My story, “Seven Birthdays,” has been reprinted at Tor.com so that you can get a sense of what the anthology is like. Personally, I think it’s the best story I wrote this year. And if you like it, do check out the anthology, please.

Bridging Infinity cover

Invisible Planets Launch

Today is launch day for Invisible Planets, an anthology of contemporary Chinese SF edited and translated by me. (“Contemporary” in this context means written in this century.) I’ll be gathering reviews and other publicity material here so you can judge if the book is of interest.

If you’ve read the book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, or wherever else you like to review books. Reviews help readers discover books they want to read and are the lifeblood of authors. Thank you!

Invisible Planets covers

Essays and Interviews

Reviews

  • Publishers Weekly gives a starred review: “This stellar anthology of 13 stories selected and translated by Liu (the Dandelion Dynasty series) brings the best of Chinese science fiction to anglophones.
  • Adam for Edge of Infinity: “…a one-stop resource for quality speculative fiction and provides plenty of insight into Chinese sci-fi. With moving stories and powerfully written prose, this anthology is outstanding. 5/5”
  • Amy Brady for the Village Voice: “… a vital collection for readers of both sci-fi and literature-in-translation.”
  • “The invaluable Invisible Planets introduces the world of Chinese sci-fi”: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky reviews for the A.V. Club. “It tackles its problem with intelligence, and in its diverse and often inspired selections, it makes the implicit point that the rapid growth of Chinese sci-fi in recent decades have made it both difficult to define and a microcosm of the various things that speculative fiction can be.”
  • Amy Brady includes Invisible Planets in a Lit Hub roundup of “16 Books You Should Read This November”: “…each story brimming with imaginative landscapes and thought-provoking futures that pull from both Western and Chinese literary canons.”
  • Starred review by Kirkus Reviews: “A phenomenal anthology of short speculative fiction.”
  • Marissa Lingen’s review: “An anthology where I didn’t skim half the stories! What a treat.”
  • Jonathan Crowe’s review: “There’s a there there — and it’s worth paying attention to.”
  • Charlie Hopkins for Fantasy Faction: “There is plenty of impressive science fiction and fantasy but so many other genres are also touched upon that readers are bound to be swept away and will assuredly find a new author to follow.” (10 out of 10 stars)
  • Ardi Alspach reviews for the Barnes & Noble SFF blog: “… a well-balanced, thoughtfully assembled collection, essential for any reader who wants to expand their understanding of the genre on a global scale.”
  • Taryn at The Overly Attached Reader: “Expertly curated anthology of short speculative fiction by Chinese writers.”
  • Isha Karki for Mithila Review: “a journey across time and space, traversing multiple imaginations and worlds. The stories bring you face to face with your own limitations and fears. They challenge, move and inspire.”
  • Stephanie Chan at Strange Horizons: “by attempting to set aside our expectations and preconceptions—or at the very least, picking them up from time to time and examining them closely—the experience of reading Invisible Planets can offer a rich glimpse of a worldview that is only slightly asymptotic to our own.”
  • Rachel Cordasco at Tor.com: “So what exactly makes these stories remarkable? I hear you asking. It’s their originality, their striking landscapes and unexpected plot twists, their lyricism and pathos.”

The Wall of Storms Launch

It’s launch day for The Wall of Storms, and I’ll be gathering some reviews and other publicity material here.

If you’ve read the book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, or wherever else you like to review books. Reviews help readers discover books they want to read and are the lifeblood of authors. Thank you!

wall of storms cover

Essays and Interviews

Excerpts

Reviews

  • Amal El-Mohtar reviews TWOS for NPR: “It surpasses The Grace of Kings in every way, by every conceivable metric, and is — astonishingly — perfectly readable as a standalone. I loved it so much that I’d go so far as to say if you were intimidated by the size and scope of The Grace of Kings, you needn’t wait on reading it to dive into this one.”
  • Publishers Weekly starred review: “This tale of divided loyalties, deadly ambition, and ‘silkpunk’ technology delivers enough excitement and sense of wonder to enchant any fan of epic fantasy.”
  • Megan M. McArdle writing for Library Journal starred review: “This absorbing fantasy, influenced by Chinese history yet utterly fresh, gets better as it marches along. Despite its length, fans of epic fantasy will devour this story and be clamoring for the next entry.”
  • Peter Tieryas reviewing for Entropy: “…one of the greatest novels I’ve read.”
  • Alec Austin: “I heartily recommend The Wall of Storms to all serious readers of epic fantasy.”
  • Charles Tan: “Whereas its predecessor held back in characterizing one half of the human population in the first book, women take center stage in this novel.”
  • Elaine Aldred at Strange Alliances: “If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book to keep you company, then The Wall of Storms, dense with characters, heroic action sequences and philosophical imaginings, has the type of longevity to keep a reader going for years as they return to the book time after time.”
  • Becky Carr: ” With a book like this it would be so easy to overdo the intellectual aspects and bore the reader or not put enough of the intellectual aspects in and confuse the reader. Liu found a perfect balance.”
  • Bookworm Blues: “So far this is probably the best book I’ve read this year, hands down. Liu is a dominating force in speculative fiction. He’s rewriting the genre, and redefining the rules, and it’s a delight to witness.”
  • Achala Upendran: “I cannot stress it enough: read The Wall of Storms.”
  • Bob Milne for Speculative Herald: “A book to be savored and enjoyed, The Wall of Storms is one of those rare sequels that manage to improve upon an already near-perfect debut.”
  • Drew at “The Tattooed Book Geek”: “…simply put it’s not just a book that you read, it’s a journey that you take and is highly recommended.” (Readers who gave up on The Grace of Kings may especially find this review interesting.)
  • Tochi Onyebuchi for Sometimes I Read: “‘The Wall of Storms’ is a bigger, better novel than ‘The Grace of Kings’ and may be the best fantasy novel I’ve read in the past five years.”
  • Kelly Anderson for The B&N SFF Blog: “How honest we are with ourselves about how those stories influence our ideas and decisions—whether we’re willing to really look in the mirror and face facts—that’s everything. That’s the ballgame.”
  • Mogsy for The BiblioSanctum: “[T]his sequel only served to cement this series in my mind as a true work of art.”
  • Achala Upendran & Mihir Wanchoo for Fantasy Book Critic: “There are fun capers, incredibly detailed worldbuilding, surfacing crubens and swooping garinafins, supernatural encounters and ‘silkpunk’ science fiction devices that (sometimes) save the day. There’s an ending that makes you realise that sometimes, the old world has no choice but to be swept away completely to make way for a new, exciting one. Sometimes, change is a risk worth taking.”
  • Betty Bong reviews for Asia Pacific Arts: “This contemplative and action-packed sequel still offers the pleasurably smooth prose and semi-omniscient narrative style that evokes a seasoned storyteller spinning off another iteration of a much-loved and oft requested tale.”
  • Brannigan Cheney reviews for The Qwillery: “The Wall of Storms brought everything I wanted in a sequel.”
  • Gary K. Wolfe reviews for Locus: “[I]ntellect is one of the defining features of Liu’s approach to fantasy.”

Fan Art

And finally something special: Carmen Yiling Yan made me some fan art for The Wall of Storms!

CYY fan art

Fall Book Releases (and European Travels)

I have a busy fall coming up:

“Folding Beijing” wins a Hugo

Folding Beijing,” written by Hao Jingfang and translated by me, has won a Hugo! Big congrats to Jingfang and the other winners. (And a special congrats to Uncanny magazine, which published the story and won a Hugo as well!)

I knew I wanted to translate “Folding Beijing” as soon as I read it. To understand something about Hao Jingfang’s thinking behind the story, be sure to read this essay she wrote.

The Wall of Storms: October 4 (and a Goodreads giveaway)

The Wall of Storms, the first sequel to The Grace of Kings, is coming from Saga Press on October 4, 2016.

I’m so excited that this book, over which I’ve labored for more than a year, is finally going out to readers. It’s bigger, better, and funner in every way than TGOK.

Saga is holding a Goodreads giveaway of ARCs of the book (limited to US addresses). Please enter and help spread the word! (And if you win, please leave an honest review wherever you like).

The Wall of Storms cover

Death’s End: September 20 (and ARC giveaway)

My English translation of the final volume of Liu Cixin’s hard SF “Three-Body” trilogy, Death’s End, is coming from Tor Books on September 20, 2016.

This is my favorite volume of the trilogy (and also the favorite of my editor, Liz Gorinsky, and fellow translator John Chu). Liu Cixin said that this book is closer to his ideal style than the other books in the trilogy, and I agree.

If you enjoyed the other books in the series, you’ll really love this one.

Death's End cover

Invisible Planets: November 1

My collection of translations of contemporary Chinese SF is coming from Tor Books on November 1, 2016.

This vibrant collection of short stories runs the gamut from hard fantasy to ethereal science fiction. Besides stories like the Hugo award-winning ‘Folding Beijing,’ these are tales rich with lush language, inventive premises, and heart-breaking story-telling.

— Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo-winning author of Ghost Talkers

Not only does this collection contain stories by China’s two Hugo winners (Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang), but it also features a brand new story by Xia Jia, as well as works from Chen Qiufan, Tang Fei, Cheng Jingbo, and Ma Boyong.

I’ll have more news about this title as we get closer to the release date.

Invisible Planets cover

Upcoming Appearances

I’ll be doing a lot of traveling in September and October as I jet around Europe and the US to attend literary festivals and other events. (The linked page will have more details about appearances when I get them.) If you’re in the UK, France, Spain, or near the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the next few months will give us a chance to meet and chat!

  • Visit to the UK, 9/3-9/6, London, the UK.
  • Festival America, 9/8-9/11, Vincennes, France.
  • Niebla Festival, 9/30-10/2, Salamanca, Spain.
  • Fort Worth Library, 10/21, Fort Worth, TX.