I write, mostly fiction.
I have a big silkpunk epic fantasy series called The Dandelion Dynasty, in which the heroes are engineers, not wizards. “Silkpunk” is my invention; I use it to describe a technology aesthetic based on a science fictional elaboration of traditions of engineering in East Asia’s classical antiquity.
My story, “The Paper Menagerie,” is the first piece of fiction to win three genre literary awards: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award.
I also consult and speak publicly on various subjects such as the history of bookmaking, futurism, machine-augmented creativity, science fiction, virtual reality, and sustainable storytelling.
The press kit contains official bios of various lengths, sample reviews, interviews, as well as downloadable high-res headshots & covers.
- Literary agent: Russell Galen of Scovil Galen Ghosh.
- Foreign rights (non-North American): Danny Baror and Heather Baror-Shapiro of Baror International, Inc.
- Film/TV/media rights: Angela Cheng Caplan of Cheng Caplan Company.
On the subject of blurbs, my policy is to neither seek nor give them. Viet Thanh Nguyen had this to say on the subject: “Kill it. Bury it. Dance on its grave. They create so much work, emotional labor and guilt, whether one is writing one or one is asking for one.” I love supporting fellow authors, but this is not the way.
Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is an American author of speculative fiction. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards for his fiction, he has also won top genre honors abroad in Japan, Spain, and France.
Liu’s most characteristic work is the four-volume epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers, not wizards, are the heroes of a silkpunk world on the verge of modernity. His debut collection of short fiction, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, has been published in more than a dozen languages. A second collection, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, followed. He also penned the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker.
He’s often involved in media adaptations of his work. Recent projects include “The Message,” under development by 21 Laps and FilmNation Entertainment; “Good Hunting,” adapted as an episode in season one of Netflix’s breakout adult animated series Love, Death + Robots; and AMC’s Pantheon, with Craig Silverstein as executive producer, adapted from an interconnected series of Liu’s short stories.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. He frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, machine-augmented creativity, history of technology, bookmaking, and the mathematics of origami.
In addition to his original fiction, Liu also occasionally publishes literary translations. His most recent work of translation is a new rendition of Laozi’s Dao De Jing.
Liu lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is an American author of speculative fiction. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, he wrote the Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings), as well as short story collections The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. He also penned the Star Wars novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. Liu frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, machine-augmented creativity, history of technology, bookmaking, and the mathematics of origami.
A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is the author of the Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings), as well as The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories.
The Grace of Kings
Amal El-Mohtar, NPR:
Liu’s world is beautiful, nuanced, fierce, original and diverse; it’s refreshing to read doorstop fantasy in which the geographies and cultures aren’t Europe-with-more-apostrophes. But neither does this feel like alt-China: It reads much more like a world invented than transposed, and the warring states of Dara draw on a multitude of influences and references without being reductive fantasy-world allegories of any of them.
It’s mode of composition is also fascinating to me: Where something like A Game of Thrones takes a period of history as its source material, The Grace of Kings feels much more in conversation with works of medieval romance and folk stories as it builds its epic architecture, with the rather surprising result that it also feels far more immersive and realistic.
Andrew Liptak, io9:
With The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu has constructed a remarkable fantasy narrative with an incredible cast of characters, a heart wrenching story and a book that genuinely plays with style and form that should serve as a template for fantasy epics that will come after it. Liu has imbibed a great deal of history (Liu noted that there’s no small influence from some of the epic stories from the Han Dynasty of China), and the depth of his world-building leads to a rich and vibrant world that deserves endless stories. Fortunately, there’s a wonderful map, glossary and list of characters which helped me figure out where everything was happening and who everyone was.
But Liu is aiming to do more than just set his story in an exotic location and play with an interesting set of characters — it’s a genuinely interesting experiment in form and style, which allows him to expand the vision and scale of the story he’s telling. In a recent interview in SF Signal conducted by Paul Weimer, Liu noted that he was influenced by the negative space in Chinese artwork: “Negative space is important in the aesthetic of traditional Chinese arts like brush painting and calligraphy, and I wanted to try for a similar effect in the novel.”
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
If your soul is an ice cube, to what lengths will you go to have a warm, passionate life? “State Change” is one of 15 stories and novellas collected here by the author of The Grace of Kings. As Liu notes in his preface, the volume has the “flavor of a retrospective,” including some of his most popular works such as the title selection, “The Paper Menagerie,” which won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, as well as lesser known tales. He also features a new work, “An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition,” that addresses the love between parents and children when they are separated by incredible distances.
Verdict: 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.
Amal El-Mohtar, NPR:
Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a book from which I staggered away, dazed, unable to speak. I have wrestled with how to review it, circled my metaphors like a wary cat, and finally abandoned the enterprise of trying to live up to its accomplishment. I will be honest, and blunt, because this is a book that has scoured me of language and insight and left itself rattling around inside the shell of me.
I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction. I was at times afraid to read more. Every single story struck chords in me profound enough to hurt, whether about the love and cruelty of families; the melancholy of thermodynamics; the vicious unfairness of history and the humbling grace with which people endure its weight. Stories so often take us out of ourselves; Liu’s stories went deep into my marrow, laying bare painful truths, meticulously slicing through the layers of pearl to find the grain of sand at its heart.
- “We get to define the stories we want to be told about us.” — Mary Wang interviews me for Guernica magazine. Using photos of his text editors, mapmaking software, and 3D-printed prototypes, the writer talks about technology, myth, and telling stories during a pandemic.
Clicking on the thumbnails will give you full-res images. Please credit the photographer in each case.