In addition to writing some of the most critically acclaimed stories of the past few years (and I hear his novels are pretty good, too), Ken Liu has also been translating Chinese science fiction into English. His most visible work has been the translation of the first and third volumes of Liu Cixin’s Three-Body trilogy, but he’s also been translating short stories—more than forty of them so far, according to his bibliography—that have been appearing in the online and print magazines. One of those translations, Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing,” won the Hugo Award for best novelette this year.
Thirteen of Ken’s1 translations, including Hao’s “Folding Beijing” and two stories by Liu Cixin, have now been gathered in Invisible Planets, out this week from Tor (in the U.S.) and Head of Zeus (in the U.K.). It’s a first-rate anthology for a couple of reasons. For one, Ken himself is an elegant writer, and his translations are no less elegant. For another, the process to arrive at these thirteen stories—Ken translating his favourite Chinese-language stories, then picking his favourites of those translations—makes for a selection process akin to a year’s-best or best-of anthology. In other words, we’re getting the cream of the cream of the crop.