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.
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.
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.
Copyedits for The Grace of Kings are done!
The final MS is 800 pages long and weighs in at 7 lbs.
Many thanks to the copyeditor and my editor for wrestling this thing into shape.
It is now possible to pre-order The Grace of Kings from Amazon! This thing is real…
(I would have posted the link to BN and other places as well, but apparently only Amazon puts up the pre-order link this early.)
Congrats to Ann, Nalo, Vylar, Aliette, and Rachel for winning all the Nebulas! And congrats to all the nominees as well. I had a great time at the banquet and the con — the entire weekend was a blast as I got to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. The con planners did an amazing job.
It’s time to nominate for awards for fiction published in the past year. I’ve started to post my thoughts on stories I liked here, along with a short list of stories by me that are eligible for nominations. I’ll be adding to this list over time as I’m just getting underway to read seriously for award nominations.
I’m amazed and honored to say that my story, “Good Hunting,” published by Strange Horizons, has won WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction! This was one of my favorite stories I wrote last year, and I’m really glad to see readers responding to it.
According to the Washington Science Fiction Association web site:
The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year. An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.
The award was announced at Capclave tonight. Since I wasn’t able to attend this year, my friend Jamie Rubin very graciously agreed to accept for me. Here’s the speech I wrote for him:
Receiving this award for “Good Hunting” is an incredible honor for me. Thank you, thank you so much.
“Good Hunting” is a story about transformation. Sometimes, it’s necessary to change oneself to survive in a new environment; sometimes, it’s necessary to reconstruct traditions to adapt to new circumstances; occasionally, it’s worthwhile to give everything you have to remake the world.
I first began writing because I didn’t like the stories I was reading and wanted to tell different ones. As writers, we inherit certain narratives and tropes and genres, and if we feel unsatisfied with them, it is our responsibility to transform them into something better.
“Good Hunting” was born because I didn’t like a certain kind of narrative. And there’s nothing that makes me more joyous to hear that my changes pleased you.
So I just found out that I won a Hugo for “Mono no aware.”
First of all, congrats to all the winners and nominees. I’m so proud to be in your ranks.
And thank you, everyone who voted for me. I’m speechless. It’s a tremendous honor, and I’m really, really grateful.
A special thanks to my friend Alex Shvartsman, who accepted for me. I hope you had fun at the parties, Alex!
“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight,” by my friend Xia Jia, and translated by me, has won an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards!
I loved this story, and it’s great to see Xia Jia getting some recognition. I think she’s one of the best contemporary Chinese speculative fiction writers. I’m proud to have had a chance to work with her.
She’s also a skilled translator on her own, having translated my “The Man Who Ended History” into Chinese. I think her translation is superior to my own original in many ways. She’ll also have a story in Neil Clarke’s upcoming Upgraded cyborg anthology. (The story is amazing, and I cried while translating it.)
I also talked about translating Xia Jia’s story for Clarkesworld: “Gathered in Translation”.