So … this happened.
I’m speechless. Congrats to all the nominees and I’m so honored to be among you.
Two cool pieces of fan art to share with you.
First, Victoria Ying, an amazing artist who has worked on Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, and Big Hero 6, among other films, produced this fantastic scene in the courtship of Kuni and Jia.
And fans of The Three-Body Problem will probably enjoy this fan video inspired by The Dark Forest. Liu Cixin really enjoyed it. (It won’t make much sense to you if you haven’t read the book though.)
For the last month or so, I’ve been doing nothing except working on the sequel to The Grace of Kings. (No title to announce yet, because I want to get publisher sign-off first.)
And in the early hours of last Monday morning, I wrote THE END.
I have a first draft.
Some random thoughts:
I love this book; I can’t say I love it more than The Grace of Kings, even though it probably is better in many ways—but your first book is special.
Writing this book was a completely different experience from The Grace of Kings. For TGOK, I had years and years; for the sequel, I had only one year. The first draft of TGOK was pretty much finished in a single month; the sequel was composed in tiny chunks on the commuter rail over many months—ah, the edits that I had to go through. TGOK’s plot was determined early on; the sequel asked me to explore and write and explore—and then, just when I thought I was close to being done, the book lurched in a different direction. And I wrote about 100,000 words in four weeks.
A completely unexpected direction, but wow, so much better.
The revisions will come next, as well as copyedits for The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, translations and short fiction commissions, and many other looming deadlines I’ve been neglecting.
But for now, I’m going to enjoy the feeling of a finished draft.
It’s been a month since the release of The Grace of Kings.
This is, without a doubt, the most widely read thing I’ve ever written, and I’m beyond pleased that many readers seem to be enjoying the world of Dara and the adventures of its inhabitants. Thank you; thank you so much.
If you’ve read the book and haven’t had a chance to review it, please take a moment to do so on Amazon, Goodreads, and wherever else you like. Reviews help readers discover books they like, and they help authors connect with readers who would like their books.
Oh, I should announce here that The Grace of Kings will be released in Chinese, Russian, and German — plus there’s also a UK publication deal. More details soon!
I also have a treat for you this time. For my Locus interview, Francesca Myman created some artwork illustrating what the silkpunk airships and vessels might look like. I think she did an amazing job.
Artwork by Francesca Myman/Locus Publications
So I tried to envision the airships as both fish and bird inspired. You wouldn’t see individual feathers from afar, but I thought that the colorful feathers might cover a rudder shaped like a fish’s dorsal fin, with the “oars” draping below…
— Francesca Myman
You can read the rest of Francesca’s thoughts behind her artwork here.
I signed these both with a pen and with my Chinese seal, so these are doubly special :)
Today is the big day. The Grace of Kings is officially out from Saga Press!
Almost five years after I wrote the first line in The Grace of Kings, the book has finally taken off. Before today, the book was mine; after today, it belongs to readers. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.
And come back for the sequel.
Updated over time…
The Grace of Kings will be officially released on 4/7, but some book stores already have copies on shelves, and Barnes & Noble has already started to ship online orders. Here’s a round-up of some early reader reactions, updated over time.
First, I’m going to do something unusual by linking you to two articles that are not labeled as reviews. But I think they tell you something important about why The Grace of Kings feels different from other epic fantasy. The writers comment on what I’m trying to do with this book.
Alec Austin, “Not a review: Foundational Narratives and the Grace of Kings”: “The Grace of Kings is, to my mind, a tremendously important book. I don’t just want it to be successful; I want it to open the door for more books which are built on non-default foundational narratives.”
Max Gladstone, “The Grace of Kings & Narrative Form”: “It’s a bracing and exciting approach. Epic fantasy, in failure mode, feels like swimming in a pool filled with lukewarm Mrs. Butterworth’s. The Grace of Kings is a dart through a crisp clear stream at dawn.”
Next, reviews! This isn’t meant to be comprehensive. I’ve purposefully chosen to focus on reviews that delve deeper into why the book worked (and sometimes didn’t work) for the reader.
Amal El-Mohtar, NPR: “Liu’s world is beautiful, nuanced, fierce, original, and diverse; it’s refreshing to read door-stopper fantasy where the geographies and cultures aren’t Europe-with-more-apostrophes.”
Justin Landon, Tor.com: “In the end, The Grace of Kings is moving forward. It’s about recognizing the past doesn’t hold the answers, and all the things we have been told are true and right and just may not be at all. He is reimagining an entire cultural narrative and in so doing interrogating the underpinnings of what is idyllic. He is using nostalgia to reveal modernity. More to the point, it feels like Ken Liu is remembering the future. And that’s something worth getting behind.”
Gary Wolfe, Locus (subscriber only): “The Grace of Kings [is] one of the most important, surprising, and sheerly enjoyable fantasies this year.”
Paul Weimer, SF Signal: “[T]he kind of Silk Road Fantasy that I’ve always wanted to read, and love all the more now that I have.”
Dario Ciriello, Dario Speaks: “The Grace of Kings is a book whose audience extends far beyond the traditional readership for Epic Fantasy, a must-read for anyone who enjoys a great story.”
Kelly Anderson, B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy blog: “The Grace of Kings rewrites the epic fantasy narrative.”
Peter Tieryas, SF Signal: “The Grace of Kings is like the mystical book Luan Zya receives from a divine hermit. ‘The book grows as you grow.'”
Ferrett Steinmetz, “Tearing Beloved Characters Apart Like Scrap Paper”: “[W]hen [Ken] sets out to break a rule he shatters it like cordwood.”
Rachel, GeekyLibrary: “There’s a rare elegance to The Grace of Kings that many authors work hard to capture, but Ken Liu seems to come by naturally.”
Alex Shvartsman, Buzzy Mag: “There are so many good things about this book, but the special sauce is Ken Liu’s ability to delve into the history and background of each character and make the reader care about their fate in short order.”
Kat Howard, Strange Ink: “Somewhere around page 300, things changed. … More women showed up, and had more time on the page, and they were well-written. Interesting, unique, fully realized characters. Bigger than the conventions of their roles.”
Helen Angela Lee, BellaOnline: “The fact is, I read a lot of popular fiction. Many of those books are fun and exciting and emotionally evocative, but haven’t really stuck with me. This one was different.”
Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins: “The Grace of Kings is, in a word, stunning.”
Michael Senft, Relentless Reading: “The Grace of Kings reads less like Martin’s bloody and fantastical version of the War of the Roses than a national epic like the Edda or the Aeneid, a grand history filled with larger-than-life characters who stride the world like heroes of old, marking their place in history with mighty deeds and big-ass swords.”
Elías Combarro, Sense of Wonder: “I cannot recommend The Grace of Kings highly enough, even to readers for whom epic fantasy is not usually their cup of tea. This is, so far, my favorite book in a year that has already brought some amazing novels.”
Charles Tan, Review: “We’ve read enough narratives that are regressive and aim to return to an idyllic past; The Grace of Kings is a revolution.”
Jake Kerr, JakeKerr.com: “Liu redefines epic fantasy in a way that is refreshing, compelling, and has been long overdue.”
John Zeleznik, Review: “I’m going to say now that this is easily going to make the end of the year top 5. Sharpie it.”
Andrew Liptak, io9: “The Grace of Kings is an ambitious, astonishing, and sublime work, one that both exemplifies and diverges from what one might think of when it comes to epic fantasy. It should rank amongst the genre’s best works.”
Kate Elliott, A Dribble of Ink: This isn’t a traditional review as such. Rather, Elliott asks interesting questions about the novel — filled with spoilers though.
Ana Grilo, The Book Smugglers: The review notes many things the book does well, as well as disappointment with the way women characters are handled in the early parts of the book.
Nancy Hightower, The Washington Post: “Liu’s deftly created alternative world, thrilling action scenes and evenly paced plot promise a groundbreaking non-Western epic fantasy.”
Bookworm Blues: “This book was amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.”
Andrew Yang writing for the LA Review of Books: “It borrows a period from Chinese imperial history, but displaces this history onto an imaginary world American readers can identify with immediately.”
You can also look on Goodreads for more reviews.
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, my first collection (in English, that is, I’ve had foreign language collections) is coming out from Saga Press on November 3, 2015.
Quite a cover, right? I think it looks beautiful. I’m really grateful to Joe Monti at Saga Press for making this happen.
The full table of contents:
Finally, you can read about the thinking behind this collection on The Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog.
Every awards season, I do one post to recommend other people’s stories and list out my own eligible work. You can find this year’s iteration here.
It’s important for everyone to recommend stories they enjoyed; it’s the best way to make sure good work is recognized. It’s also important for writers to promote their own work; it’s the only way for others to find out what they’ve done.