The Three-Body Problem Is Out!

My first book launch (in English)!

On November 11, my translation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, the first volume of a hard scifi trilogy, is officially released by Tor Books.

The book launch is garnering quite a bit of media attention. The New York Times has a write-up about it, as does the Wall Street Journal.

And Liu Cixin himself talks about the “big idea” behind the series over on John Scalzi’s blog.

You can now order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online or local book stores.

And you should, because it is awesome.

The Xingyun (Nebula) Awards

Over the first weekend of November, I was in Beijing to attend the Xingyun Awards—one of the highest honors for Chinese-language science fiction. Besides honoring the best works of the past year at a gathering of writers and fans, it was also an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the release of the English edition of The Three-Body Problem. As the translator, I was invited to share in the joy. Guokr, which handled the logistics and organization, did a phenomenal job. Ji Shaoting and Yu Chunzi—basically the con runners—produced a seamless show and made me feel completely welcome.

It was an unforgettable experience.

Though I’ve literally been working with Liu Cixin on translating his scifi masterpiece for years, this was the first time I got to meet him in person. Nicknamed “Da Liu” (“Big Liu”) by his fans, Liu Cixin is a warm, unassuming man who exudes grace and wisdom. As the most prominent and popular scifi writer in China, Da Liu was mobbed by fans the entire weekend, many of them having traveled from other cities to see him. However, though Da Liu was stopped constantly as he tried to move from panel to panel and the long lines kept him far past his designated signing time, he always addressed each fan politely and tried his best to fulfill their autograph requests. When he spoke on panels, he was thoughtful and funny, and his answers were imaginative and insightful, delighting audiences who hung on his every word. Determined to nurture the Chinese science fiction community, Da Liu also devoted a great deal of energy over the weekend to support the work of younger writers (including mine).

I’d like to think all of us can aspire to such standards of behavior when we achieve success.

Besides meeting Da Liu, I had a weekend packed with amazing memories. I had the best time. The. Best. Time.

Some highlights (“some” because the full list would be way too long):

  • Having my first meal in Beijing in a greasy roadside dive noodle shop with a bunch of writers in a cloud of cigarette smoke—quite a way to get over jet lag.
  • Catching up with old friends and meeting new friends—many of them writers, critics, and publishing professionals I’d only corresponded with in the past. Also, learning lots of slang expressions.
  • Launching my second Chinese short story collection; seeing the cover for my third Chinese collection revealed; getting my Galaxy Award from Assistant Chief Editor Yang of Science Fiction World; signing books, lots of books.
  • Having Da Liu hand me a Xingyun Award for special contribution to Chinese SF on stage—they totally surprised me and I almost cried. I think I managed to mumble some words of thanks, hopefully in Chinese.
  • Seeing my friend Bao Shu win his first Xingyun Gold Award for his fantastic novel, Ruins of Time. I’m hoping to see an English edition soon (meanwhile, you can catch a novella of his, “What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear,” in next year’s March/April F&SF, translated by me).
  • Going out at midnight with others to do shots of erguotou (“Chinese vodka”) until we were kicked out by the restaurant owner … This was research. Yes, research. If you read TTBP you’ll see I’m being 100% honest here.
  • Above all, meeting all the enthusiastic fans and interacting with them. Their passion and joy were infectious and the energy level was incredible.

I’m very much looking forward to getting the chance to go again next year.

Mercersburg Academy and “The Perfect Match”

I went to visit Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania last month to meet the students who were turning my short story, “The Perfect Match,” into a play. It was neat to see how the actors interpreted my characters, and it gave me a chance to see these characters in a new light.

I also got a chance to visit a few classes, share meals with some students, and talk to them about a scifi future (I told them about my visions of the robot apocalypse, since you know I’m such an optimistic guy).

It was a blast. Mercersburg Academy has a beautiful campus with excellent facilities, and the students impressed me with their maturity and insightful questions about my story. We ended up chatting about notions of privacy, and whether members of the younger generation really do have different ideas about online personas and privacy than older people.

I’m grateful that my hosts, Julie and Matt Maurer, gave me this opportunity for a visit. And I’m even more grateful for the hard work the students put into this production. I hope to see a recording of the production soon.

Research

You know what these are?

Research for Book 2 of the Dandelion Dynasty. If you know what these are, you’ll have a hint of what’s coming. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I’ve been having writing it.

And yes, the shocks do hurt.

Cover Reveal for The Grace of Kings

At long last, the cover for The Grace of Kings can be revealed!

Sam Weber, the cover artist, did an amazing job. I think it looks gorgeous.

Publication date: 4/7/2015.

You can read about Saga’s launch titles (works by Lee Kelly, Genevieve Valentine, Zachary Brown, and me) here.

You Can’t Quit

Apropos my review of the book about Amazon, there’s this NYTimes article about a customer’s attempt to quit Amazon in protest over its attempt to squeeze Hachette by delaying shipment of Hachette authors’ books.

As she found out, quitting isn’t easy:

“I’ve certainly missed Amazon. I bought three bird-watching books from Barnes & Noble about a week ago. So far, I’ve received one. I need to consult Amazon to make decisions about what I want to order because the customer feedback is so weak at B.&N.”

“I’m convinced that Amazon will not make any effort to regain me since they can rely on getting me back due to the magnetism of their efficiency and their massive stock of everything,” she wrote. “So, feeling as isolated as I do in my feeble protest, I believe I’ll call it quits soon if there is no prospect of it making a difference to anyone.”

Seems like Jeff Bezos was right about his flywheel.

The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman, by Ben Winters, is a mystery set six months before a six-mile-wide astroid strikes Earth, an extinction-level event. With the apocalypse looming, why would a detective bother solving murders?

Featuring snappy dialogue, a distinctive narrative voice, and excellent building of suspense, the whole book is written in first person present, which works really well. The core murder mystery, using a Two Body Plot, is enhanced by a bigger background mystery that presumably serves as the plot arc for a trilogy, of which this is the first.

What I admire most is the way Winters doles out just enough information to allow the reader to make the necessary deductions at the right moments — I know, standard mystery technique, but surprisingly hard to master.