Adventures in Space (Short stories by Chinese and English Science Fiction writers)
by Patrick Parrinder; Yao Haijun; Leah Cypess; Ronald Ferguson; Russell James; Alex Shvartsman; Amdi Silvestri; Allen Stroud; Eleanor Wood; Bao Shu; Zhao Haihong; Chen Zijun; Han Song; Wang Jinkang; He Xi
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Pub Date 25 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 24 Apr 2023
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An impressive joint project, this outstanding new anthology brings the best of Chinese and English-language science fiction in a mediation on the theme of Exploration in Space. New, emerging, established and much-lauded writers from both cultures are brought together to demonstrate that technology and humanity when they work together bring challenges, joy and benefits to all of humankind. From Bao Shu comes 'A Trip to the End', from Allen Stroud 'The First', from He Xi 'Never Meet Again in Life', from Amdi Silvestri 'A Minuet of Corpses' and under the guiding eye of Patrick Parrinder (President of the H.G. Wells society) and Yao Haijun (celebrated editor of Science Fiction World in China) thirteen authors create a series of worlds which will enthral and entertain.
A Note From the Publisher
Yao Haijun (Honorary editor, Chinese language writers) is deputy Director-in-Chief of Science Fiction World, President of Chengdu Science Fiction Association, and Co-founder of Chinese Science Fiction Nebula Award. He founded China's first science fiction fanzine Nebula in 1988 and joined Science Fiction World in 1998. He discovered many new writers, initiating the ‘Science Fiction Vision Project’ which launched the internationally bestselling ‘Three-Body’ series. He has also won the Chinese Science Fiction Nebula Award for Best Editor.
Chinese language writers (translated): Bao shu, Chen Zijun, Han Song, He XiWang, Jinkang, Zhao Haihong.
English language writers: Leah Cypess, Ronald D. Ferguson, Russell James, Alex Shvartsman, Amdi Silvestri, Allen Stroud, Eleanor R. Wood.
If you love the mission of science fiction, the interchange between cultures, the hopeful and inexorable trajectory of technology and ideas, you'll love this anthology of new stories from Chinese and English language writers.
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 18 members
Any Science Fiction fans in a reading drought? This book is the remedy you need! This was just what I have been missing in Science Fiction!
I used to love Science Fiction anthologies as a way to discover new authors and I became interested in Chinese Science Fiction after reading The Three Body Problem. But, lately, I have been shying away from the “Best American Science Fiction” and the “Best Science Fiction of the year” books as they seem to be trying too hard to be edgy and “woke” and include very little good, wholesome, entertaining science fiction.
This book had the type of stories that sparked my love of the genre. This book had entertaining, near future stories set in near-Earth orbit, on Mars, on the moons of Jupiter, and on spaceships bound for places unknown. Some moments that were memorable to me (without giving too much away) were the “haunted” space ship, the matrix type virtual reality situation, the spooky “asteroid” field, zombies(?) on Mars, the mirror-world alternate universe, and the alien in trouble—reminiscent of ET.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and am eager to explore more work by the authors featured here.
This is a collection of 13 solid science fiction stories with a common theme of space exploration. The authors are a mix of Chinese and Western authors. There are wormholes, skip points for accelerating a ship outside the solar system, nanotechnology, cryogenic suspension, familiar ideas in the sci-fi realm. For me there were two standout stories, the first “The Race for Arcadia” by Alex Shvartsman about a race between the Russians, Americans and Indians to send a manned mission to a planet first explored by a Chinese drone called Arcadia. The lightest ship will have the advantage, Nikolai, a mathematician who has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor piloting the “Yuri Gargarin” plans to be first but all is not as it appears. The other story that stood out for me was “The Seeds of Mercury” by Wang Jinkang, which is about a Chinese scientist’s work to establish and evolve a non-carbon based life form on the planet Mercury, where carbon-based life forms would be frazzled. Anyone interested in the possibilities of travel to other planets would be entertained by this collection.
Adventures in Space sounds like a Groff Conklin title from the Golden Age of SF but it is in fact a modern multi-author anthology from Flaming Tree Press, very much in the spirit of the current golden age of pluralistic and multi-cultural speculative fiction. In this case, half the stories are translated Chinese SF and half English language. The stories share a general space theme, as the title suggests and range from Near-horror like Alan Stroud’s “The First” to more metaphorical, like “The Darkness of the Mirror Planet” by Zhao Haihong..” In some ways the book is appealing as it offers something for everyone but I found no standout story. I would describe it as solid, readable, and worth a look.
Adventures in Space
I was given a copy of this book for review purposes. The book is a collection of short stories, written by English and Chinese authors. Chinese authors tend to write Hard Science Fiction, which makes for great stories. This is to date one of the best sci-fi books I have read and a must-read.
A solid collection of stories, with a nice variety of approaches, scifi genres, and talent. This is a something-for-everyone collection.
Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!
This is a 3.5 star read for me. I always round half stars down.
This anthology was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I found some stories more enjoyable than others. On the Ship, Cylinders, The Darkness of Mirror Planet, and The Emissary were my favorites, though not the only great stories in this collection. I was especially moved by Cylinders and The Emissary; they were heartfelt stories full of love for the universe and the beings that reside in it. I tend to gravitate toward uplifting stories, so perhaps other readers will have different favorites.
Overall, I found the stories to be well researched; they will appeal to fans of The Martian and other hard sci-fi. There’s also a lot to love here if you’re a fan of sci-fi horror. I appreciated the variety of stories included. Each one added something unique while still aligning with the central theme of the anthology. I found that a lot of the stories I didn’t enjoy as much were those with writing I couldn’t easily connect to. I personally felt like some of the same prose choices that bothered me were present in all the translated stories. It’s a shame that in the translated stories, I didn’t get a sense of the author’s individual style and voice as a writer. I think I would have enjoyed this anthology more overall if I did. Nevertheless, I’m glad I encountered so many authors I hadn’t read before, and I think I’ll seek out more from some of them now that I’ve read this anthology.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
It’s hard to evaluate anthologies - how do you give a sum of parts that may be so unlike each other? And harder still when there doesn’t appear to be a cohesive theme linking the stories. I have really enjoyed what I have read of Chinese scifi — Sinopticon was a great collection, and a recent TOR collection of Asian queer SFF voices was lovely. That is to say, I can imagine that some people came here with similar reasons and were similarly bewildered by the logic behind interlacing them with English-language authors. Or vice versa! The stories are not in dialogue, they are just - there? If you want to find some new names for yourself, by all means, this works for that. And of course evaluating the merits of each individual story is fun for fans of the genre. YMMV! I definitely made a few discoveries, but I didn’t get any clarity behind the selection choices at all.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of the book.
I enjoy reading scifi anthologies and I was really glad to read something like this! It was nice to read stuff from new writers that we wouldn't have gotten word of otherwise. I really hope there will be more cultural joint projects of this nature in the future - Filipino scifi, anyone? 🤭
There are plenty stories to enjoy in this collection, though most lean toward hard scifi and scifi horror. The hard scifi ones were fascinating, but I felt like I wasn't able to fully appreciate them simply because I'm not well versed in the more technical, science parts of scifi. But, well, the theme is space exploration and it's kind of like that, yeah? Different stories, different worlds, different takes on the theme. It's a vast universe and there should be something for you to enjoy!
A truly thrilling, engaging, and diverse set of short stores in the science fiction genre. The first half were particularly memorable and mind-expanding. I couldn't put it down. But about halfway the pace started to lag. I can't quite put my finger on it. There were some rather experimental stories that seemed to meander or lean too much on shock value or obscurity. (Trying to avoid spoilers.) I was also surprised at the lack of diversity beyond the writers' backgrounds ... sex and gender ... sexuality ... race and ethnicity ... even class, a staple of the social climate in science fiction when all else is left to the wayside, yet barely touched upon here. These are more like visions and nightmares of future space-faring, focused more on the more golden age question of "what could happen if ...?" I also wasn't sure why the mix of Chinese and English writers -- not complaining, just not understanding the connection and selection. Finally, the galley copy was truly a challenge to read, with sudden headers in the middle of the text, partly a chunk of the narrative and partly a warning not to share or resell ... I hope that the publisher fixes the formatting for future offerings. Altogether, well worth reading, even if it's a bit all over the place ... and not just in terms of traversing time and the universe.
As you'd expect from the title all of these stories involve being in space, or having space come to them. Seven were written in English and six were translated from Chinese by Alex Woodend. Five of the English-language stories are reprints and two are new. The six Chinese-language stories appear here translated for the first time, as far as I can tell anyway.
Alex Shvartsman - The Race for Arcadia (2015)
This is a mildly amusing and severely critical story of a deeply embarrassed Russian government that is desperate to prove that they still matter. I don't believe it to be satire because this story seems entirely plausible within the context presented. The protagonist, whose death is imminent from a terminal illness, is blatantly told that he's being sent on a suicide space mission for the purpose of propaganda. If they're willing to admit that much, what aren't they admitting?
Chin Zijun - Shine (2016)
Qi Fengyang is in despair of never being able to achieve his dream when the extremely wealthy Huo Changao offers to fulfill it for him. All he has to do is accept what may a suicide mission to rescue Sun Shi'ning from a failed Europa expedition. She's the former's ex-lover and the latter's wife. The rescue will take the cooperation of the world and much science, though that's nothing compared to their passion and determination. However, neither one is being honest about their motives, so what's this really all about?
This reminded me superficially of a mix between 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Martian, the former of which is explicitly referenced in the text, and the latter if it was told from an Earth-side perspective. I continue be amazed how often Elon Musk is included in such stories, as he's mentioned here in passing as Alan Musk.
Leah Cypess - On The Ship (2017)
This is the sixth story by Cypess that I've read and I've enjoyed them all. I believe this is the first science fiction story I've read by her. Generation ships are a setting I tend to like and this one more so than usual because it reminded me of Philip K. Dick. That's both all I want to say about it and all I think needs to be said.
Wang Jinkang - Seeds of Mercury (2002)
What an astounding story. It started out enjoyably and by the end it became one of the best translated works of short fiction I've read and possibly one of the better ones I've ever read.
Chen Yizhe has a blessed life of comfort, wealth, and familial bliss. One day He Jun, a lawyer, informs him that his aunt Sha Wu has died and she wants him to carry on her legacy. She's created a new life that can only prosper on Mercury, hence the title, which would be the seeds of a new civilization. The parts of the story that take place in that civilization are an utterly delightful exploration of Mercurian society, science, and religion.
Eleanor R. Wood - Her Glimmering Façade (2016)
This is another type of story that I really like. There's just something about someone waking up alone in a mysterious location with no idea of their situation that appeals to me. That allows me to entirely overlook that it's entirely conceptual and nothing else. Saying what the concept is would spoil the story.
Han Song - Answerless Journey (1995)
Creature wakes up in a location with no memories and meets Same Kind, who has the same condition. It's an allegorical existential comedy horror, but I'd only be guessing about what. The title is apt, too much so really. This is the seventh story I've read by Han Song, though it's only the second that I haven't assigned my worst rating to. He writes in a way that I personally strongly dislike.
Ronald D. Ferguson - Cylinders (2017)
Jerry is a robot guardian for Rachael, a teenage girl, and is modeled on her deceased father. They live in a cylindrical space station that is developing a new technology that will revolutionize humanity and exploration. Saboteurs on board would see it all stopped. Mostly the story is Jerry watching Rachael's day to day life as his upgrades have him becoming more and more similar to her father.
He Xi - Life Does Not Allow Us to Meet (2010)
Humanity desires to settle many planets to avoid extinction, but many of them have conditions unsuitable for standard humans. Many different pioneer species were designed to settle these planets. They only have provisional status as humans. A team has been sent to judge whether the settlers of a certain planet qualify as human or not.
Allen Stroud - The First (2023)
Two astronauts arrive on Mars believing that no humans had come before them, but they were wrong. Those before them were the earliest humans, though they were not The First to be on Mars.
Zhao Haihong - The Darkness of Mirror Planet (2003)
This seems to be a wholly allegorical story that I think I understood, but didn't like at all for what it was saying or how it was said. Mirror, the protagonist, wants to join the mission to Planet Dark, which requires leaving her husband Lack and passing a psychological test.
Amdi Silvestri - A Minuet of Corpses (2018)
This was meant to be a creepy horror story, but it didn't do anything at all for me. A spaceship comes across what me be a rouge planetary graveyard or something more sinister and spooky stuff happens. Not my kind of horror at all.
Bao Shu - Doomsday Tour (2013)
A self-fulfilling 2012 end of the world story. Alien disaster tourists want to make sure their money was well spent. A galactic travel agency want to ensure their profits continue unimpeded. Corruption is an universal ideal.
Russell James - The Emissary (2023)
Shane had always wanted to be an astronaut. After the Apollo missions ended in 1972 he thought that chance had passed. In 1976, he's kidnapped by the CIA at the behest of NASA. They tell him that he's their last chance and everything counts on him. The secret truth of Apollo 17 is revealed.
I received this book from Flame Tree Press through NetGalley.
Like in any other short story collection this one was a mixed bag. Some of the stories were amazing, while others were less so. However I really liked a different world view and ideas these stories give us, as is usually the case with non-Anglocentric stories. I am looking forward to more similar collections.
I have just finished reading this wonderful anthology of stories by Chinese and English writers. All of them are about space in some way, but thrown in are VR, aliens, mind transfers, potential wars, crew conflict, amnesia, disability, children, androids replacing dead people, aloneness, colonising new planets, and scary unknown things on Mars.
There were some really delightful stories in here. My favourites:
- Alex Shvartsman’s The Race for Arcadia has a fascinating question at its centre: Do you have to be embodied to travel in space?
- On The Ship by Leah Cypess and Her Glimmering Facade by Eleanor Wood have similar ideas with VR, but the latter is deeply sad (won’t spoil it for you);
- Seeds of Mercury by Wang Jinkang just grazed my warning button for its representation of disability, but is also immensely imaginative and amazing;
- Russell James’s The Emissary is a quick Independence Day-type story;
- Doomsday Tour by Bao Shu, an amusing (depending on your perspective) tale about Doomsday on December 21, 2012;
- A Minuet of Corpses by Amdi Silvestri is incredibly spooky, and unexpected. That one’s going to stay with me.
I didn’t like every single story, and the ones I didn’t like, I really didn’t like. However, all of the stories had great worldbuilding and were interesting, and my favourites were great. So, although the anthology is a little uneven, it is an excellent and recommended read.
Thank you to Flame Tree Press and to NetGalley for giving me access.
As with most anthologies, entries are hit or miss but I do appreciate the intent behind this collection to bring attention to lesser known authors, both Chinese and otherwise. The only author I had read from before was Bao Shu.
Unfortunately a lot of these were misses for me. Several of the stories felt too long/drawn out so while I might have liked the intent or idea st the center of the story I found myself not caring because of the pacing, and others had too much emphasis on hard science fiction for me. I do wonder how much of that had to do with the translation choices for the Chinese stories.
Standouts for me were On the Ship by Leah Cypess, and Bao Shu’s Doomsday Tour.
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