Category Archives: geek

Star Wars: Legends of Luke Skywalker

Today is release day for The Legends of Luke Skywalker, a set of tall tales about the Jedi Knight that have been passing from cantina to freighter and from mouth to audio receptor ever since a certain farm boy left Tatooine for the wider galaxy far, far away…

I’ve been waiting forever to share this book with my fellow Star Wars fans.

Legends of Luke Skywalker Cover

If you want to learn a little more about the book, here are a few links to interviews and reviews.

Devan Coggan interviews me for Entertainment Weekly: “Ken Liu Tells Star Wars Tall Tales in The Legends of Luke Skywalker:

Legends follows a number of young deckhands working aboard a ship bound for Canto Bight (a casino world featured in the upcoming The Last Jedi). Together, they swap six different stories about Luke, each passed down from a different storyteller. One comes from a droid who claims to have witnessed Luke singlehandedly lead a droid rebellion, while another comes from a tiny, flea-like creature who claims to have had a pivotal role in Luke’s escape from Jabba’s palace. One of the particular highlights is the tale told by a former Imperial engineer, who says that Luke Skywalker was nothing but a piece of propaganda made up by the Rebellion. The real Luke is a con artist named Luke Clodplodder, who orchestrated a massive scam with his friends aboard a ship called the Century Turkey.

SWNN (Kyle Larson)’s review “Luke Is Looking for the Force in Ken Liu’s The Legends of Luke Skywalker:

Ken Liu has crafted a collection of stories that weave through the complicated life of Luke Skywalker in the fashion of great mythology and fairy tales. If you have an appreciation for bed time stories or great tales around a campfire, you won’t at all be disappointed in this book.

Starwars.com (James Floyd) interviews me in ”Ken Liu on Exploring the ‘Perfect Mythic Figure’ In The Legends of Luke SkywalkerM:

In our world, as the deeds of famous men and women are distorted, simplified, and exaggerated into bare, impressionistic outlines, we fill them in with vivid colors according to our own understanding of the human condition and our own needs for the right story. The same person may be seen as hero or villain, as martyr or hypocrite, depending on who is doing the seeing and what colors are in their Crayola box.

As it is in our universe, so it is in the galaxy far, far away.

Capclave 2017

I just had the most amazing weekend at Capclave with fellow GOH Neil Clarke: caught up with old friends (one I haven’t seen in person in 20 years) and made new ones; talked about books and writing and worldbuilding with brilliant fellow panelists and fans; read my Star Wars story from A Certain Point of View (“The Sith of Datawork”); cheered on winners and finalists at the WSFA Small Press Award ceremony; even ran off to enjoy the legendary Peruvian restaurant La Canela (twice! thanks to Lawrence Schoen and Alex Shvartsman).

And look at what they did with the program book. How cool is that???

The Dodo Dynasty

Many thanks to Steve Stiles for this amazing image, Alex Shvartsman for a super kind appreciation write-up, Cathy Green and the whole con committee for putting on such a great show, Kathi Overton for saving me from technology, and to Bill Lawhorn and Sarah Mitchell for taking care of me all weekend.

The Washington Science Fiction Association did an amazing job at putting on a con that felt at once inclusive, comprehensive, and intimate. If you haven’t been to Capclave, I highly highly recommend it.

LeVar Burton Reads “The Paper Menagerie”

LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Reading Rainbow) is a hero of mine. TNG is my favorite Trek, and Geordi was the greatest engineer in the galaxy. (Remember, my silkpunk epic fantasy series is all about engineers as magicians and poets.)

LeVar Burton Reads podcast

He has a new podcast, “LeVar Burton Reads” (alternate iTunes link), in which he narrates pieces of short fiction.

He’s already performed works by Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Daisy Johnson, among others. And this week’s selection is “The Paper Menagerie”. Go ahead and give it a listen. It’s an amazing performance.

Sometimes my life is unbelievable.

My Favorite Award Trophy

This may be my favorite award trophy ever.

plush trophy for Twitter Awards

I was selected as the winner in the 6th annual Japanese Twitter Literature Awards in the foreign works category (for my Japanese collection, 紙の動物園, Hayakawa, edited by 古沢嘉通 (Yoshimichi Furusawa)). Thank you to the readers who enjoyed my stories and voted for me, and a great thanks goes out to Armadillo Hidaka, who created this awesome creature.

My Arisia Schedule

I’ll be attending Arisia this Friday (January 15). Here’s my schedule:

  • “A Special Hour with Ken Liu” / Alcott Fri 4:00 PM (1:15): “Special hour” puts a lot of pressure on me, doesn’t it? Actually, I do have something pretty special planned. I’ll be reading from the following items (all of them unpublished):

    • The new story in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories;
    • My translation of Liu Cixin’s Death’s End, the conclusion of his Three-Body trilogy, to be published by Tor this August;
    • My translation of Chen Qiufan (a.k.a. Stanley Chan)’s debut, The Waste Tide, which has just been acquired by David Hartwell for Tor;
    • And, of course, The Wall of Storms, Book II of the Dandelion Dynasty series. (This is how you can get another sneak peek).
    • I’ll also be running a drawing for an ARC of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories at the reading.
  • “Thrown with Great Force:Classics We Won’t Finish” / Marina 2 Fri 5:30 PM (1:15) (with Kate Nepveu, Debra Doyle, Mark Amidon, Catt Kingsgrave-Ernstein, Vikki Ciaffone): This is a panel for all of you who didn’t finish LotR; everyone who needed to self medicate through Infinite Jest, exiled Frankenstein to the frozen wastes, or wanted to flush the Foundation. What did you fail to finish, which ones do you feel guilty about not finishing, and which ones do not make you feel any twinge of guilt at all?

  • “Genre Fiction in Translation” / Faneuil Fri 7:00 PM (1:15) (with Crystal Huff, Sarah Weintraub, Morgan Crooks, John Chu): Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu, won the Hugo for Best Novel. Clarkesworld’s recent foray into translating Chinese SF has brought some well deserved attention to the vibrant body of stories in that country. Haikasoru has made a name for itself translating works from Japanese, and Tor.com has recently published SF stories translated from Spanish. What possibilities do we see in translation of other cultures’ SF? How might this change the landscape of the genre?

Programming iOS 4

Matt Neuburg’s Programming iOS 4 is among the best programming books I’ve ever read. I’d rank it right up there with Programming Perl.

I’ve tried several Cocoa / Cocoa Touch books before, and generally found them wanting. Many of them share a common problem: they take a breezy tone and try to get you to put up your first “Hello World” application as soon as possible, without sufficient explanation of the fundamentals. After a few chapters of cutting-and-pasting code, I usually gave up because I’m the sort of person that needs a solid foundation in the low-level details before we jump off into putting up pretty pictures.

Neuburg, on the other hand, takes an approach that I favor. He explicitly states near the beginning that he’s seen many iOS programmers leap into development via copy-and-paste coding without understanding the fundamentals. His aim is to remedy that. Without a good foundation, it’s impossible to develop the necessary intuition for the system that is critical for good design and assured debugging.

To that end, Neuburg spends more than a hundred pages going over the foundations of Objective-C before even telling you to open Xcode, and when he does, he does so methodically, explaining to you the philosophy behind Xcode’s design, how its makers envision a project workflow, and exactly what the various buttons do. (This is also one of the only good guides to the radically new interface of Xcode 4 I’ve found.) By the time you put up your “Hello World” app, you actually feel that you have a good intuition of the system as a whole.

Neuburg’s book covers the fundamentals of iOS programming as well as some advanced topics, so intermediate coders and beginners alike will find the book useful. I really think there’s something in here for programmers of every level of skill and experience.

(If you buy it through the Amazon link above, I get some kickback.)