Review of ‘Sinopticon: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction’ translated and edited by Xueting Christine Ni

An intriguing collection of 13 short stories which showcase modern Chinese science fiction. I liked how the chosen stories had retained elements of Chinese culture and how the editor used footnotes to explain terms which don’t have direct English equivalents. The introduction and the notes for each piece were interesting and enthusiastic. I liked most of the stories and thought them well worth reading. One story, the final piece in the collection, really stood out for me and I’ll always remember it.

‘The Last Save’ by Gu Shi is an ultimately uplifting story about dealing with consequences instead of obsessively reliving the same events.

‘Tombs of the Universe’ by Han Song is a mysterious story which engages with rites and traditions but was a little too academic for me at times.

‘Qiankun and Alex’ by Hao Jingfang is an optimistic exploration of how super-intelligent AI can improve by learning from children.

‘Cat’s Chance in Hell’ in Nian Yu is an action-packed yet emotional thriller engaging with the ethics of clones used for military purposes.

‘The Return of Adam’ by Wang Jinkang is a hard SF story with ethics, evolution and romance.

‘Rendezvous: 1937’ by Zhao Haihong is an important and brutal time-travel story of the Nanjing Massacre.

‘The Heart of the Museum’ by Tang Fei is a philosophical story with an elegiac tone in the tradition of classic SF.

‘The Great Migration’ by Ma Boyong is set on Mars, a weary tale of bureaucracy and trying to beat the system.

‘Meisje met de Parel’ by Anna Wu is a beautifully-written unpredictable piece about art and AI.

‘Flowers of the Other Shore’ by A Que is a zombie pandemic story, not my kind of read so I had to skip.

‘The Absolution Experiment’ by Bao Shu is a short absurd piece about exploitation and criminal justice.

‘The Tide of Moon City’ by Regina Kanyu Wang is an emotional story of healing friendships but I wasn’t keen on the academic theme.

‘Starship: Library’ by Jiang Bo is a fantastic epic journey of a fleet of library starships, which affirms the power of knowledge and demonstrates that we’ll always need libraries.

Thank you to the publisher Rebellion for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 9th November.

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