Invisible Planets

{4.5/5} “When I am done telling you these stories, when you’re done listening to these stories, I am no longer I, and you are no longer you. In this afternoon we briefly merged into one. After this, you will always carry a bit of me, and I will always carry a bit of you, even if we both forget this conversation.” (from “Invisible Planets” by Hao Jingfang)

Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation edited by Ken Liu, published in 2017

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang — Lao Dao works in Third Space in waste processing. He needs money to send his child Tangtang to the right kindergarten. He agrees to make the perilous journey to deliver a message from a young man in Second Space who loves a woman in First Space. He is successful, and finds out some things about the woman, and about the way the world works.

It’s about how rich people will always arrange things to their advantage, men in love will always believe the woman who shows them affection loves them back, and poor people will go to great lengths to make things better for their children.

“Taking Care of God” by Liu Cixin — When aliens arrive at Earth, they came to stay. They called themselves Gods, because they seeded Earth millions of years ago. But now they are all getting old, they’ve forgotten how to fix their technology, and they want to retire on Earth — 2 billion of them. But they offer their knowledge in return.

With a unique visitation by aliens and some galaxy-spanning ideas, this is my favourite story in this anthology. I previously reviewed Liu’s novel Death’s End.

These are all stories originally written in Chinese, and Ken Liu translated all of them into English. He points out in his introduction that they shouldn’t be taken as representative of Chinese science fiction. There are also 3 essays, written by 3 of the authors, discussing Chinese SF.

I didn’t get one story, but the rest of the imaginative tales are worth reading.

One more quotation: “At this critical historic moment, I am even firmer in my faith that reforming reality requires not only science and technology, but also the belief by all of us that life should be better — and can be made better — if we possess imagination, courage, initiative, unity, love, and hope as well as a bit of understanding and empathy for strangers. Each of us is born with these precious qualities, and it is perhaps also the best gift that science fiction can give us.” (from “What makes Chinese science fiction Chinese?” by Xia Jia)

This is the first anthology I’ve read edited by Liu. I previously reviewed his collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 at 8:50 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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