All posts by Ken

Virtual Festivals and Vagabonds

Virtual Literary Festivals and Conventions

In this time of social distancing, stories and books are more important than ever. We all, however, have to be a little creative in how we connect with others to celebrate storytelling.

Since my book tour for The Hidden Girl and Other Stories had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, I’ve been working on virtual replacements for in-person events. I’ve already done panels in Second Life and virtual reality, and the explorations will continue.

Later this month, I’m going to be an author guest at the Newburyport Literary Festival, which has gone virtual this year.

NLF Virtual

My presentation, called “The Values of Stories; Stories of Values,” is scheduled for April 25 at 1:00 PM EDT. If you use Zoom, you can register as an attendee at the link above. I’ll be talking about why stories are important to me, how I ended up writing the stories in The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, and how the technology of storytelling changes the stories we tell.

Then, in May, I’ll be one of the Guests of Honor at Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators. I want to talk about literature and sustainability, the nitty-gritty legal and business aspects of being an artist trying to make a living, and the craft of writing.

Flights of Foundry

I hope to see you at one of these events!

Meanwhile, please keep an eye on the “Events” page as I’ll be announcing new events there as soon as details are confirmed.

Stay safe and healthy. Can’t wait to talk to you!

Vagabonds

Today is release day for Vagabonds, the English edition of the debut novel of my friend Hao Jingfang, translated by me (the Chinese original was written more than a decade ago).

Links: Saga (US) and Head of Zeus (UK).

It’s a deeply philosophical novel about our eternal search for fairness and equality, told through the perspective of a young woman who must find a home after exile from both the planet of her birth and the planet where she comes of age. I think of it as what you would get if you mixed Le Guin’s The Dispossessed with Camus’s L’Homme révolté, all flavored with Jingfang’s abiding compassion and faith in the sanctity of the individual as shown in stories like “Folding Beijing.”

I adore both the UK and US covers. They evoke the Neo-Platonic ideals that form such an important part of the book’s narrative.

I hope you like this book as much as I did.

Vagabonds US Cover
Vagabonds UK Cover

AMC Greenlights Pantheon Based on My Stories

So, I have some good news to share! AMC has ordered a primetime animated series, Pantheon, based on an interconnected series of short stories by me. Craig Silverstein and the writers have been so amazing to work with. The writers room may be one of the most fascinating storytelling innovations.

AMC has given a two-season order for Pantheon, a one-hour, animated series based on a series of short stories by Ken Liu about uploaded intelligence, reports Deadline.

The network began developing the series back in 2018, setting up a writers room to begin writing a series of scrips and a short animated presentation. The series is being run by Craig Silverstein, who’s produced and written for shows like AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies, Nikita, Terra Nova, and others. Deadline notes that the series is “described as a fresh take on graphic realism done in a traditional 2D way, using modern tools.” The series will at least run for two seasons (Deadline says that it’s “envisioned as an ongoing series”) of eight episodes.

The show will follow a young woman named Maddie, “a bullied teen who receives mysterious help from someone online,” who turns out to be her dead father David, who has uploaded his consciousness into the cloud, and whose existence marks a potential turning point for the human race.

— Andrew Liptak for Tor.com

You can listen to one of the stories behind Pantheon, “Staying Behind” as narrated by the inimitable @levarburton in the latest episode of LeVar Burton Reads. The story was originally published by Clarkesworld.

You can read the series of short stories that became the basis for Pantheon in my latest collection, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories.

The Other Animals

I’m part of an extraordinary Audible Original anthology: The Other Animals.

The Other Animals

All eight stories here are written from the perspective of a non-human animal and read by the authors themselves. The only requirement is that we all inform our stories by actual behavioral science about the animals. The stories are about both the animals and the human condition: How does a marmot that hibernates for much of its life deal with aging? What does a vulture that lives on death think about mortality? Can a water strider find transcendence on the other side of the water?

My story is about a scorpion, but it’s also about parent-child relationships, alien abductions, and singing to the moon — you know, my typical sort of thing.

Victor Fet, the world’s foremost expert on scorpions, had this to say about my story:

Ken Liu’s eloquent “Moon Carver” gives voice to a truly alien, relict creature. Largely understood by humans as a symbol of evil due to their potent venom, scorpions have lived under the changing night skies for the past half billion years, honing their bizarre tools and perhaps, as Liu’s visionary hero does, harboring unique emotions.

The other authors in the anthology are Daniel Mallory Ortberg, R. Eric Thomas, Lulu Miller, Shruti Swamy, Max McClure, Kaeli Swift, and Kelly Weinersmith. Thanks to Rachel Hamburg for conceiving the project and inviting me, and Noah Grigni for cover art.

There’s a Draft of the Conclusion of the Dandelion Dynasty

You ready for this?

Remember how for the last three-plus years I’ve been working on the same book, and every time you asked me about it the answer has always been, “I’m still working on it”?

Well, now we have a new answer.

The Dandelion Dynasty is complete! Ahahahahahaha!!!

I started working on The Dandelion Dynasty ten years ago, and a decade later, I finished it exactly the way I wanted to. The very last scene of the book had been in my mind before I even set down the first word, and the thrill of finally completing that arc is … indescribable.

Not to worry, as I did not, in fact, drop a cargo truck on my editor’s desk. The poor man has suffered enough as I toiled away on the conclusion of the saga all this time.

But it would be nice to give you a glimpse of the manuscript, wouldn’t it? Here it is:

printed version of the end of The Dandelion Dynasty

That’s right, I needed two binders to fit the conclusion in there. Hehe.

I am so excited about this, y’all! Honestly, I think the best person to introduce the end of the saga to you would be Stefon from SNL because “Dara’s hottest chronicle has … EVERYTHING.”

Stefon

There are epic battles in the most unlikely of locations; new weapons pushing the limits of my fantasy engineering skills; a general whose most ardent desire is a silkmotic-heated bath; a restaurant critic channeling the spirit of Gordon Ramsay; a sovereign whose greatest accomplishment can never be recorded on their epitaph; new creatures, new lands, new philosophies, new ways to write books … 

I hate to dangle the end of the adventure before you like this … but yeah, I’m bouncing off the walls with joy and exhaustion and trepidation and anticipation and every shade in between.

Now, this is just a draft, so publication information is still unsettled. But I promise you more updates soonest!

Waste Tide

My friend Chen Qiufan’s debut novel, Waste Tide, is finally out in English. I did the translation, and Tor Books in the US and Head of Zeus in the UK are the publishers.

Waste Tide Covers

The novel has been getting excellent reviews everywhere. You can see a sample of the reviews and find out more about the book here.

Stan and me in front of MOCA

Stan (that’s his English name) and I attended a book launch for him at the Museum of Chinese in America in NYC on Tuesday, organized by Professor Jing Tsu of Yale. Very grateful to the staff of MOCA, Professor Tsu, Lindsey Hall (Stan’s editor at Tor), Desirae Friesen (Stan’s publicist), Eddie Schneider and Gray Tan (Stan’s agents), Russel Galen (my agent), Neil Clarke, Regina Kanyu Wang, Emily Jin, and others who made the English edition possible and the night so memorable.

Big congrats to Stan! (And buy the book!)

“Good Hunting” and Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots

“Good Hunting,” which may be found in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, is now part of Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots.

Good Hunting from LDR

The series, executive produced by David Fincher, Joshua Donen, Jennifer Miller, and Tim Miller, consists of 18 awesome animated shorts centered around the titular themes. Other authors whose work was adapted include John Scalzi, Claudine Griggs, Marko Kloos, and many others.

The “Good Hunting” adaptation, one of the longest in the series, was directed by Oliver Thomas. The adapted script was by Philip Gelatt. It was animated by Reddog Culture House. Voice actors include Elaine Tan, Matt Yang King, Gwendeline Yeo, Maddox Henry, Sumalee Montano, and JB Blanc.

I think the adaptation looks fantastic. All the episodes in the series are relatively short so you can binge them all in probably one viewing. (Note that this is a series aimed at adults so it is not appropriate for children and likely NSFW.) Enjoy!