Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation
College graduates-turned-soldiers are recruited to kill genetically modified rats. A woman finds salvation and freedom thanks to a curious ruse. Unfamiliar planets and cultures dazzle a young listener. Different classes are separated by a transforming city. Gods come to Earth in the form of aliens seeking retirement and care.
Invisible Planets presents a sampling of top efforts from Chinese authors, many available to American readers for the first time. And it’s an eye-opening collection to be sure.
Honestly, the more fantasy-tinged stories outshine the sci-fi, drawing from the rich history and mythology of China to create some wonderful tales about dragon-horses and ghost cities. Although the science fiction stories offer fascinating glimpses into the present and future of another culture — including some very poignant social commentary, a hallmark of strong, serious science fiction — they don’t deliver the same pop and engagement as the more fantastic tales do.
Concluding with a few nonfiction pieces about the influence and role of science fiction in China — pieces that might’ve made more impact at the start of the collection — this is a marvelous introduction to a brand new world of sci-fi for many readers.
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