Book Review – Invisible Planets : A Chinese SF Anthology

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This anthology made for a great introduction to Chinese science-fiction and I’m looking forward reading full-length novels next. The diversity provided by the 13 short speculative fiction included here succeeded in maintaining my interest alive. The writing felt so evocative and atmospheric. And more than anything, every one of these stories brought my favorite question to life : what if?

I do have favorites, though :

  • The year of the rat by Chen Qiufan : this dystopian tale was chilling ;
  • The city of silence by Ma Boyong : huh. The Web, 20461995 1984 edition. So claustrophobic ;
  • Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang : REALLY liked this one. The concept of a folding city and the division of time to max out profit was so frighteningly believable. 4.5 stars for this capitalism’s hell and its dramatic setting ;
  • Invisible planets by Hao Jingfang : very imaginative and strangely sweet. I was enthralled ;
  • Taking care of God by Liu Cixin : two billions old people fly to earth in spaceships and claim to be humanity’s creators, who need to be taken care of now that they’re old. Let’s face it, the way people reacted once the novelty ran out was entirely too realistic. It cracked me up.

The anthology is concluded by three very interesting essays that question what makes – or doesn’t make – Chinese science-fiction unique, both historically and nowadays. These essays and the introduction also discuss the matter of interpreting Chinese stories from a western – especially USian – point of view.

If I definitely don’t know enough to offer a worthy opinion, despite the oozing sadness, these stories were a breath of fresh air. Recommended.

5 thoughts on “Book Review – Invisible Planets : A Chinese SF Anthology

  1. These sound great! I’ve had this anthology on my list for a while now, since it’s translated by Ken Liu and I love his own short stories. I think I’ll have to bump it higher up the TBR list though. Folding Beijing and Taking Care of God sound especially good.

      1. Very cool! I started with Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie (just the story, I haven’t read the full collection yet) but I’ve read other work of his since then too.

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