Tag Archives: scifi

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.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is Out!

My debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, is out today! You can also get the audio version, narrated by Corey Brill and Joy Osmanski.

I’m very grateful to everyone who helped me along my journey.

I can’t name all the writers and readers who have supported me and critiqued my work over the years. But know that you’re in my heart. There’s a little bit of all of you in these pages. We’re defined by the marks we leave in other people’s stories.

At Saga Press, my publisher, many individuals collaborated to bring this book to life. Among them are Jeannie Ng, for catching all those errors in the manuscript; Michael McCartney, for the lovely cover design; Mingmei Yip, for accommodating unorthodox requests for calligraphy; Elena Stokes, Katy Hershberger, and Aubrey Churchward, for the thoughtful publicity campaign.

I’m especially thankful to Joe Monti, my editor, who championed and shaped this book with his good judgment (and saved me from myself); Russ Galen, my agent, who saw the possibilities in these stories; and most of all, to Lisa, Esther, and Miranda, for the millions of ways in which they make the story of my life complete and meaningful.

And now, some links (updated throughout the week):

I’ve been doing a few interviews in connection with the book:

People have been saying nice things about the collection, so I’m gathering some links below. (I don’t look for reviews, so these are just the links people have sent me):

  • Library Journal: “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.”
  • Publishers Weekly: “Gracefully written and often profoundly moving, these stories are high-water marks of contemporary speculative fiction.”
  • Jamie Ford, NTY bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: “I know this is going to sound hyperbolic, but when I’m reading Ken Liu’s stories, I feel like I’m reading a once-in-a-generation talent. I’m in awe.”
  • Andrew Liptak writing for The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog: “[A] brilliant, substantial, yet somehow still all-too-short collection of stories and novellas… It’s bursting with stories yearning to be told to everyone, and it’s a volume that absolutely everyone should read.”
  • Achala Upendran: “Savour it, sink into Liu’s words, and allow yourself to be carried away by a master storyteller.”
  • Jessica writing for MuggleNet: “Liu’s talent in evoking atmosphere and culture make these tales more than stories – they’re journeys. If you’re looking to dream of another world, or reflect on our own, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.”
  • Devi Bhaduri writing for The Chicago Review of Books: “A rare combination of lavish prose, characters in fascinating, unique situations, and heart-wrenching moments.”
  • Brit Mandelo writing for Tor.com: “There’s a vibrancy and color to the characters that’s hard to ignore.”
  • Ian White writing for Starburst Magazine: “It is a genuine work of art, a complete joy to read, and very very highly recommended.”
  • Jana Nyman writing for Fantasy Literature: “…while emotionally devastating at times, is a collection that I will be re-reading for years to come, a book that I’ll lend to trusted friends and will recommend to complete strangers.”
  • Justus Joseph writing for Shelf Awareness: “Emotionally unpredictable, Liu’s stories take off in unexpected directions and arrive at destinations both startling and satisfying.”
  • Nisi Shawl writing for The Seattle Times: “Long after the book has been read, these telling details continue to lend their subtle heft to stories that pierce to the core of what’s right.”
  • Amal El-Mohtar writing for NPR: “I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction. I was at times afraid to read more.”

And I wrote few essays to talk about subjects that might be interesting to readers (and tangentially connected to the book):

Who Should Take Credit for The Martian?

Lisa and I got to see The Martian last week, and I did enjoy it (as have 93% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes), though not as much as I had hoped. Among many other problems, the most egregious issues with the adaptation are these:

  1. Almost every single interesting episode in the book has been either eliminated or drastically simplified, which made them less engaging and dramatic. For instance, contrast the “rover hacking” and “blown airlock” episodes from the book with the film versions.

  2. The adaptation failed to give a sense of the long delays required for communications between Mars and Earth — an important contributor to the threat facing Mark. (NASA and Watney couldn’t just IM each other, as the film seemed to imply.)

But rather than going on and on about how the film came up short, I want to talk about something else: most critics are treating this film as though the writer, Andy Weir, was irrelevant to its success.

Take this bit from Christopher Orr of the Atlantic:

In this, the collaborators who put together the film—Scott, Goddard, the cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, the entire cast, and on down the list—resemble the NASA folks and Hermes crewmembers of the movie itself: They are all pulling together toward the same goal, and doing so with extraordinary skill and tenacity.

Conspicuously absent in this list is the author whose novel was the foundation of the film. Is it really right for his name to be left off here, placed below “and on down the list”? (To be fair, Weir is mentioned once in the beginning of the review: “Drew Goddard’s screenplay is a sharp, nimble adaptation of the novel by Andrew Weir” — but the very phrasing here minimizes the value of Weir’s book.)

Even more curious is the fact that almost everything Orr liked about the film was sourced directly from the book:

There are no tedious backstories, no leaps of rampant illogic, no poorly cast performances, no tacked-on romantic subplots, no extended narrative lulls.

These praises are far more accurate when applied to the book than the film.

The Martian has a degree of humor uncharacteristic of a Scott film, including a running gag about the awfulness of the disco tracks that were left behind with Watney … But perhaps the movie’s best joke involves the love for J.R.R. Tolkien that is apparently encoded into the DNA of every living male nerd.

These clever bits are all from … you guessed it, Weir’s book.

I have long been puzzled by our obsession with assigning credit for collective endeavors to a single individual (e.g., scientists who get Nobel prizes are rarely single-handedly responsible for those discoveries). In film criticism, we worship the director as though they’re single-handedly responsible for all good ideas in the result, but in the case of The Martian, this is just wrong. If we enjoy the film, it’s because Weir wrote a great story that could be simplified into a film without too much loss.

Cover, TOC, and Release Date for My Collection

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:

  • Preface
  • The Bookmaking Habits of Select SpeciesNebula nomineeSturgeon Award finalist
  • State Change
  • The Perfect Match
  • Good HuntingWSFA Small Press Award Winner
  • The Literomancer
  • Simulacrum
  • The RegularNebula nominee
  • The Paper MenagerieHugo winnerNebula winnerWorld Fantasy Award WinnerSturgeon Award finalistLocus Award finalist
  • An Advanced Readers Picture Book of Comparative Cognition (unpublished)
  • The WavesNebula nominee
  • Mono no awareHugo winnerSturgeon Award finalistLocus Award finalist
  • All the FlavorsNebula nominee
  • A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific TunnelSidewise Award FinalistLocus Award finalist
  • The Litigation Master and the Monkey KingNebula nominee
  • The Man Who Ended History: A DocumentaryHugo nomineeNebula nomineeSturgeon Award finalist

And though it’s early, you can already pre-order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other fine bookstores.

Finally, you can read about the thinking behind this collection on The Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy blog.

I’m a Nebula Nominee (Maybe 1.5 Nominees)

Something pretty incredible just happened.

My novella, “The Regular,” which was originally published in Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke, has been nominated for a Nebula Award! (You can read the novella for free thanks to Neil Clarke here). This is a huge honor, and I’m super pleased to be in the company of my fellow nominees (congrats to them!):

  • We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
  • Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
  • “The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
  • “The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
  • Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
  • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)

In addition, The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, has been nominated for a Nebula in the novel category. I translated this novel, and I understand that this is only the second translated novel in the history of the Nebulas to be nominated (the previous one was Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities). It is a huge honor for me to have had the chance to work on the translation of this novel, and I’m really pleased for Liu Cixin, Liz Gorinsky, my editor, Tor Books, and all my beta readers who helped me in the process. Congrats, Da Liu! And congrats to the other novel nominees as well.

  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
  • Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
  • Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
  • Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)

Congrats to all the nominees on the list in other categories. You’re all amazing and it’s a pleasure to see so many friends and fresh voices on the list this year.

Full announcement can be seen on the SFWA web site.

Awards Recommendation and Eligibility Post

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.

The Three-Body Problem Is Out!

My first book launch (in English)!

On November 11, my translation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, the first volume of a hard scifi trilogy, is officially released by Tor Books.

The book launch is garnering quite a bit of media attention. The New York Times has a write-up about it, as does the Wall Street Journal.

And Liu Cixin himself talks about the “big idea” behind the series over on John Scalzi’s blog.

You can now order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online or local book stores.

And you should, because it is awesome.