Category Archives: writing

“The Hidden Girl” Optioned by Studio 8

So, I have some good news:

The story that Studio 8 just optioned, “The Hidden Girl,” isn’t even available to read yet; it’ll be out in 2017 as part of the Gardner Dozois-edited The Book of Swords, according to Liu’s website. But it sounds totally great, according to this description on Deadline:

The story is about a team of assassins who are able to navigate between dimensions. It’s got stylish touches reminiscent of Interstellar and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The Deadline headline suggests the end result will be a “time-travel action film,” which would be pretty rad under any circumstances. With Liu’s creativity guiding said time-travel action, however, we’re even more excited for this film to be made.

Big thanks to Studio 8’s Rishi Rajani and Chris Goldberg for taking on this project, and I’m super excited to be working with them to bring this project to fruition. Also a big thanks to my agents, Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company and Russell Galen at the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, for making this deal happen.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is Out!

My debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, is out today! You can also get the audio version, narrated by Corey Brill and Joy Osmanski.

I’m very grateful to everyone who helped me along my journey.

I can’t name all the writers and readers who have supported me and critiqued my work over the years. But know that you’re in my heart. There’s a little bit of all of you in these pages. We’re defined by the marks we leave in other people’s stories.

At Saga Press, my publisher, many individuals collaborated to bring this book to life. Among them are Jeannie Ng, for catching all those errors in the manuscript; Michael McCartney, for the lovely cover design; Mingmei Yip, for accommodating unorthodox requests for calligraphy; Elena Stokes, Katy Hershberger, and Aubrey Churchward, for the thoughtful publicity campaign.

I’m especially thankful to Joe Monti, my editor, who championed and shaped this book with his good judgment (and saved me from myself); Russ Galen, my agent, who saw the possibilities in these stories; and most of all, to Lisa, Esther, and Miranda, for the millions of ways in which they make the story of my life complete and meaningful.

And now, some links (updated throughout the week):

I’ve been doing a few interviews in connection with the book:

People have been saying nice things about the collection, so I’m gathering some links below. (I don’t look for reviews, so these are just the links people have sent me):

  • Library Journal: “These remarkable stories highlight Liu’s themes of family, love, and politics and gathered in one collection pack an even bigger punch. Those who revere shorter speculative works will definitely want this book.”
  • Publishers Weekly: “Gracefully written and often profoundly moving, these stories are high-water marks of contemporary speculative fiction.”
  • Jamie Ford, NTY bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: “I know this is going to sound hyperbolic, but when I’m reading Ken Liu’s stories, I feel like I’m reading a once-in-a-generation talent. I’m in awe.”
  • Andrew Liptak writing for The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog: “[A] brilliant, substantial, yet somehow still all-too-short collection of stories and novellas… It’s bursting with stories yearning to be told to everyone, and it’s a volume that absolutely everyone should read.”
  • Achala Upendran: “Savour it, sink into Liu’s words, and allow yourself to be carried away by a master storyteller.”
  • Jessica writing for MuggleNet: “Liu’s talent in evoking atmosphere and culture make these tales more than stories – they’re journeys. If you’re looking to dream of another world, or reflect on our own, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.”
  • Devi Bhaduri writing for The Chicago Review of Books: “A rare combination of lavish prose, characters in fascinating, unique situations, and heart-wrenching moments.”
  • Brit Mandelo writing for Tor.com: “There’s a vibrancy and color to the characters that’s hard to ignore.”
  • Ian White writing for Starburst Magazine: “It is a genuine work of art, a complete joy to read, and very very highly recommended.”
  • Jana Nyman writing for Fantasy Literature: “…while emotionally devastating at times, is a collection that I will be re-reading for years to come, a book that I’ll lend to trusted friends and will recommend to complete strangers.”
  • Justus Joseph writing for Shelf Awareness: “Emotionally unpredictable, Liu’s stories take off in unexpected directions and arrive at destinations both startling and satisfying.”
  • Nisi Shawl writing for The Seattle Times: “Long after the book has been read, these telling details continue to lend their subtle heft to stories that pierce to the core of what’s right.”
  • Amal El-Mohtar writing for NPR: “I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction. I was at times afraid to read more.”

And I wrote few essays to talk about subjects that might be interesting to readers (and tangentially connected to the book):

The Paper Menagerie and Other Tidbits

The publication date for my debut collection is fast approaching: March 8, to be exact.

Besides gathering some of my favorite stories (a few have won some awards, if you care about that sort of thing), this volume also contains a brand new story that I feel is among my best.

Other recent news that may be of interest:

  • The Grace of Kings was named one of NPR’s best books of 2015
  • … as well as Apple iBooks’ “Best of 2015” (Fantasy)
  • … as well as Kobo’s top SFF pick for 2015.
  • Both TWOS and The Paper Menagerie made it onto io9’s list of  “40 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Will Rock Your World In 2016.”
  • The president is reading my translation of The Three-Body Problem. (I never thought I’d have anything to do with something the president would read…)
  • I was at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Boston this weekend, and had a great time talking with Kat Howard about her debut novel, Roses and Rot, which is a re-imagining of the tale of Tam Lin in a contemporary fantasy setting that raises interesting questions about the role of art — lying to tell the truth. I had the privilege of reading an ARC of the book, and it’s wonderful. You’ll definitely want to pick up a copy when it’s out in June.

Announcing the Title for Book II

For most of December I worked on the edits to TGOK 2.

Well, since it’s a new year and I’ve turned in my edits, I’m going to announce the title of the sequel: The Wall of Storms (I’ll get a page up for it soon).

Like the title to the first book, which can be read in multiple ways (as the concept of “grace” gets worked out — and it’s also a quote from Henry V), the title for this second book is also meant to be read in multiple ways that will become clearer over time.

Without giving too many spoilers away, I can tell you that it’s a story about succession and revolution, about change and pushback, about betrayal and portrayal. It is bigger, better, and deeper than Book I, and it will start out seeming to be one kind of book before turning out to be another.

Along with many of the old characters you got to know from Book I (Luan, Gin, Jia, Kuni …), you’ll also get to meet many new ones: a scholar who fights with her wits and logograms instead of the sword, a warrior who must devise new strategies against foes she has not fought before, a princess who goes on the greatest adventure of them all: discovering the secrets of nature … And the gods now have a few new tricks up their sleeves.

And it’s got a new map (why, you ask? Hmmm… no spoilers!) as well as tons of cool silkpunk technology. Tons. I’ve been doing a great deal of research for this series, and I’ve loved every second of it. Just about every cool idea I had went into this book. I can’t wait till you get to see it.

And … release date is October this year!

You’ll get a sneak peek at TWOS in the mass market paperback edition of TGOK, scheduled to be released on February 23. But there will be other ways to get previews later in the year as well, as I give readings and send out more updates.

TGOK News and Gift Suggestions

I’m working on the final edits for TGOK II and the book is coming along great. As I mentioned before, official release date is November 2016.

The Grace of Kings made it onto B&N SFF blog’s “The Best Science-Fiction & Fantasy of 2015” list as well as NPR Book Editor Petra Mayer’s “Books To Give As Gifts This Year” list.

Looking at the other entries on these lists, I’m in disbelief—many of the writers listed here are my literary idols! My debut has certainly found its audience, and I can’t be prouder of what it has accomplished.

Also, on December 3, 2016, the UK edition of TGOK is going to be published by Head of Zeus. The hardback has a gorgeous cover that really pops when you see it in person. I’m really pleased with how this one came out.

Cover for UK edition of TGOK

Since it’s time for year-end shopping for gifts, I figured I’d make some book recommendations:

  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson — The most original book I read all year, a nuanced, layered exploration of concepts about black masculinity. Here’s my blurb for it: “Lyrical and polyphonous, gorgeous and brutal, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is an unforgettable tale of love that empowers.”

  • Flex/The Flux, by Ferrett Steinmetz — I loved Flex, and the sequel The Flux is even better. (Imagine video game players as wizards…) Anyone who loves video games, Fight Club, and bureaucracy will simply whoop in delight. So. Much. Fun.

  • Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott — This is a massive, massive epic fantasy (and it’s only the first volume in a trilogy!). The world is rich, complex, textured, as are the characters and their relationships. Features some wonderful twists on epic fantasy tropes: women and men both fight, old and the young are equally valuable, cultures are not monolithic, and the politics isn’t pseudo-Medieval. The best epic fantasy of the year.

  • Updraft, by Fran Wilde — Human-powered flight in a world of giant bone-towers in the clouds. The engineering in this world is awesome and the characters are utterly sympathetic. Plus, there are some excellent action sequences. Fran is also giving a lecture on December 3 at the Library of Congress about human-powered flight in literature. If you’re around, definitely go hear her talk.

  • The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard — A lush fantasy set in alt-20th century France that explores magic and the flow of power in a colonial landscape. The writing is particularly beautiful and atmospheric. To be savored.

  • First Last Snow, by Max Gladstone — Another entry in Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, which are novels about law and economics recast as magic. If you haven’t read the Craft Sequence before, this is a good place to start (the books are written to be read in any order). There’s a scene involving BATNA that’s simply delightful.

  • Black Easter, by Dario Ciriello — A supernatural thriller that takes place in WWII and the present day. The plot is tight and Ciriello does some really interesting things with the conventions of the genre. I felt shivers as I read it.

And if you’re into short stories, I can recommend two collections:

  • Selected Stories, by Jake Kerr — Kerr’s stories are moving, experimental, fun, thoughtful, and fun. This debut collection (available exclusively on the Kindle) is a good intro to his work. He’s also a YA novelist, and his novels are definitely worth checking out for YA fans.

  • H. G. Wells, Secret Agent, by Alex Shvartsman — a collection of three novellas/novelettes set in a steampunk spy-thriller world. Fast-paced and humorous, this collection ought to delight any steampunk fan.

Short Fiction News

I didn’t write many short stories this year (working on TGOK II took up most of my writing time), but I did write a few.

War Stories From the Future cover

One of them is “Article I, Section 8, Clause 11” (of the US Constitution, of course), a story I wrote for the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project. My contribution, along with stories by David Brin, August Cole, Linda Nagata, and many others, are collected in an anthology called War Stories From the Future, which is free for the public to download and read. Certainly I hope the anthology stimulates discussion about the evolution of warfare, but I also think these stories are fun to read.

Cover for Altogether Elsewhere

I also made one of my favorite stories that’s never been reprinted online before, “Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer” (originally published in F&SF, May/June 2011), available on the new online publishing platform Moozvine under a Creative Commons license. This post-Singlarity story about math and poetry is free to read on Moozvine, and I hope you enjoy it. (If you do enjoy this story and others on the site, please consider pledging a few dollars to support me and other artists trying to contribute to Creative Commons.)