Tag Archives: writing life

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

Grace of Kings ARC Giveaway

I have shiny copies of the ARC of The Grace of Kings!

Grace Cover With Quote

And so of course I’m going to run a Goodreads giveaway for two signed copies. Thank you for your interest!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings

by Ken Liu

Giveaway ends February 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wit in Critique

I’ve said before that I’m blessed with wonderful beta readers. I would not be anywhere near the writer I am without their help.

Lately, since I’ve been inflicting my novel on a bunch of beta readers, I’ve been thinking about the art of giving critiques, which is something I want to get better at.

Beta readers are good at different things. Lisa, who tends to be my first reader, is good at giving a gestalt judgment that usually accords very well with the work’s ultimate reception. Other readers are good at telling me to pay attention to things I tend to ignore: POV issues (I don’t believe in the modern specfic mantra of “one scene, one POV,” but sometimes my POV-switches are not well thought out and prevent me from achieving effects I intended), plot holes (I’m the world’s worst plotter), awkward first-draft sentences that sound fine to me because I’ve read them a dozen times. Still other readers are good at writing down their reactions and insightfully analyzing them so that I can see why the story I thought I had written wasn’t what I had actually written. I can’t thank them enough.

A couple of beta readers, in particular, are good at doing something that I’ve always been too afraid to try. They are funny in their critiques.

The wit is sometimes self-deprecating (“I nodded off for a bit there — could be I was hungry”), sometimes more sharply aimed at my ineptitude (“Where are the messenger pigeons? Did they all rebel, too?”), and sometimes not even directly related to the story (“Fun fact: most snake-related deaths …”).

I’ve laughed out loud at some of these comments (after getting over my embarrassment at the errors in my draft that generated them), and it feels a lot like chatting in person. I look forward to reading the critiques, not only because they’ll make my book better, but because they’re entertaining.

There’s something about wit that disarms the natural defensiveness a writer has towards criticism. I can see what they meant and laugh at myself, and then fix the problems. For me, wit is better than “diplomatic phrasing”; it affirms the camaraderie between the writer and the reader—we’re in this together, building a new world.

Obviously, this requires a level of trust between the critiquer and the author, and I’m sure writing such a critique is harder than doing it “straight.” The beta readers who have done this for me are all fine writers themselves, and in their critiques I see a respect for our shared art; they try, in their critiques, to practice the classical goal of prodesse et delectare, even though they’re writing for an audience of but one.

Nebula

So, I’ve won a Nebula.

Nebula Award

I couldn’t be at the ceremony tonight because baby Miranda needs her daddy. But Jamie Todd Rubin was gracious enough to accept for me and take that picture so I can be sure it’s not a dream. He also read my acceptance speech, which I’ve reproduced below:

When I was a kid, my grandmother taught me how to do zhezhi (origami). I remember being especially fascinated by the final stage of some of these paper constructions, which involved blowing them up like balloons, giving life to the paper animals.

I’ve always wanted to write a story based on that moment, which felt like magic.

I’ve also encountered few works of fiction that treat the life of the mail-order bride with real sympathy. Most seem to portray these women as either victims or conniving opportunists. Yet in my experience, many women who come to the West as mail-order brides are neither, but real people with complicated histories and yearnings and pains that are universal.

I’m glad that this story struck a chord with so many. Thank you, Gordon Van Gelder, for believing in this story. And thank you all very much, my fellow writers.

Tonight feels really special. I’m going to give my wife and daughters another kiss.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. I’m proud to be in such amazing company.

The Hugos

I’m really honored to announce that two of my works, “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary”, a novella, and “The Paper Menagerie”, a short story, have been nominated for the Hugo Awards.

Like many SF writers, I’ve dreamed about a moment like this since I started writing. And now that it’s actually happening, I’m having trouble believing it.

Thank you to everyone who supported me over the years so that I didn’t quit writing. You’re the best, the real stars.

Congrats to all the nominees and best of luck!