The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years — sixteen of his best — plus a new novelette.In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from the forthcoming book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, "The Veiled Throne".Contents:- Ghost Days (2013)- Maxwell's Demon (2012)- The Reborn (2014)- Thoughts and Prayers (2019)- Byzantine Empathy (2018)- The Gods Will Not Be Chained (2014)- Staying Behind (2011)- Real Artists (2011)- The Gods Will Not Be Slain (2014)- Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer (2011)- The Gods Have Not Died in Vain (2015)- Memories of My Mother (2012)- Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit - Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts (2016)- Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard (2020)- A Chase Beyond the Storms: An excerpt from "The Veiled Throne", Book 3 of the Dandelion Dynasty- The Hidden Girl (2017)- Seven Birthdays (2016)- The Message (2012)- Cutting (2012)

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories Details

TitleThe Hidden Girl and Other Stories
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 25th, 2020
PublisherSaga Press
ISBN-139781982134037
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Speculative Fiction

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisherSaga Pressin exchange for an honest review.3.5/5 starsKen Liu is incredibly good at writing short stories.Ive been waiting for The Dandelion Dynasty to be completed for years now so I can binge read the epic fantasy series. During my waiting time, I have read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and also some books Liu has translated: The Three-Body Problem and Deaths End by Cixin Liu. I loved them all; The Paper Menagerie, in particular, is one of the two best ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press—in exchange for an honest review.3.5/5 starsKen Liu is incredibly good at writing short stories.I’ve been waiting for The Dandelion Dynasty to be completed for years now so I can binge read the epic fantasy series. During my waiting time, I have read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and also some books Liu has translated: The Three-Body Problem and Death’s End by Cixin Liu. I loved them all; The Paper Menagerie, in particular, is one of the two best short stories I’ve ever read so far. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is the second collection of short stories published by Ken Liu, and as expected, it’s another wonderful collection of stories. I think of this as something wondrous because I’m not even a fan of short stories; I avoid this format more than I avoid novellas. However, this is Ken Liu, and this collection goes to show how good he is at writing short stories. Just try reading the beautifully written two-page long preface; I highly doubt you’ll be able to resist reading this collection after reading this. “As the author, I construct an artifact out of words, but the words are meaningless until they're animated by the consciousness of the reader. The story is co-told by the author and the reader, and every story is incomplete until a reader comes a long and interprets it." And so this will be my interpretation of these stories.Few exceptions aside, most of these stories are connected, taking place in the same universe. I’ll be giving a very mini-review for each respective title.Ghost Days: 4/5 starsI loved this one. Liu tells a story that encompasses the importance of the past, culture, traditions, and how even the smallest of things could be the treasure that sustains our heritage and legacy for hundreds of years. "She would show them how she now understood that digging into the past was an act of comprehension, an act of making sense of the universe." Maxwell's Demon: 3.5/5 starsA brutal and dark read. Maxwell’s Demons is about a Japanese-American female living in America during the time of World War II, and she receives a task to go back to Japan and help bring victory to America. "A war opened a door in men, and whatever was inside just tumbled out. The entropy of the world increased, in the absence of a demon by the door." Reborn: 3/5 starsOne of the three longest short stories in the collection, and it’s a good sci-fi story about the importance of memories. I enjoyed this one well enough, although it’s not as good as many other stories in this collection, I found the discussion regarding memories and how it makes us who we are to be well-written. “You cannot tell which memories are real and which memories are false, and yet you insist on their importance, base so much of your life on them.” Thoughts and Prayers: 4/5 starsIf you have lost someone to a mass shooting, be warned that this is a very dark story. Harrowing and thought-provoking, the loss of someone important due to a mass shooting is inexplicable; Liu goes further by exploring another danger that can come after the event through the misuse of technologies and trolling. “What did I think was going to happen? After decades of watching the exact same script being followed to end in thoughts and prayers, what made me think this time would be different? It was the very definition of madness.” Byzantine Empathy: 2/5 starsSame as Reborn, this is one of the longest short stories in the collection, and I honestly didn’t enjoy this one. Empathy, Virtual Reality, and cryptocurrency are relatable topics of discussion, but this story was boring to read. “A VR rig was the ultimate empathy machine. How could she truly say she had walked in their shoes without suffering as they did?” The Gods Will Not Be Chained: 4/5 starsThis one was so intriguing and compelling, and it’s the first installment in a mini-trilogy available in this collection. It begins with a story about bullying, then it proceeds to show the limitless capability of technologies, the internet, and digital immortality. “But the digital world, the world of bits and electrons, of words and images—it had brought her so much joy, felt so intimate that she thought of it a part of her. And it hurt.” Staying Behind: 3.5/5 starsSimilar to the previous one, this is a short story that explores the idea of “immortality through machines” versus “meaningful life through mortality.” It’s a very interesting read because both factions have believable reasoning that makes sense. “She taught me that our mortality makes us human. The limited time given to each of us makes what we do meaningful. We die to make place for our children, and through our children a piece of us lives on, the only form of immortality that is real.” Real Artists: 3.5/5 starsThis is a very short story about doing whatever it takes to make a perfect movie, even if it means allowing technology to do all the heavy lifting. "I was right about you; a real artist will do whatever it takes to make a great vision come true, even if she has to work with someone else's art." The Gods Will Not Be Slain: 3.5/5 stars A direct sequel to The Gods Will Not Be Chained with Maddie as the main character again. The themes of history, human nature, and once again, digital immortality dominate the story. "They could use a historian," she said. "Someone who knew something about how things used to work." Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer: 4/5 starsThis story shows the life of the people who have decided to go through digital immortality. Food for thought: what if infinity ends up decreasing the meaning of life? ”It's not how long we have that matters, but what we do with the same time we have.” The Gods Have Not Died in Vain: 3.5/5 starsThe end of the mini-trilogy revolving around Maddie. I think this is the weakest of the mini-trilogy, but the conclusion was satisfying enough. "We have grown to the point where we must depend on machines to survive," said Mom. "The world has become too fragile for us to count on people, and so our only choice is to make it even more fragile." Memories of My Mother: 2/5 stars One of my least favorite from the collection. This one suffers from being way too short; the story ended before I even began to care about the characters.Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit—Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts: 3/5 starsThe story shows what happened to Earth in the year 2600 after its destruction caused by Climate Change. It's a bit scary to be reading about this because there's a chance of the situation portrayed in this story happening in our life. "Humanity may have taken to the stars, but we have destroyed our home planet. Such has been the lament of the Naturalists for eons." Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard: 4/5 starsThe most action-packed story in the collection, and it’s in my favorite genre: fantasy. Three sisters of different bloodlines find themselves united to for a purpose, fight against oppression and dictator. It’s a great fantasy story, and I believe there’s a potential for this one to become a series or a standalone novel. "Greed and ambition are the rule at court, and the only goal of every governor, general, official, and legate, Revealed or not, is selfish gain, not the good of the people." A Chase Beyond the StormsAn excerpt from The Veiled Throne, The Dandelion Dynasty, book three: No ratingAs I mentioned, I’m waiting for The Dandelion Dynasty to be completed first, and I highly prefer not having my reading experience of the series spoiled. I won’t be reading/reviewing this one.The Hidden Girl: 4/5 stars Here it is, the titular story in this collection, and this is one of my personal favorite stories within this collection. Filled with Buddhism, The Hidden Girl is a fantasy story about an assassin who's willing to have the bravery to do what's right, even when it means fighting against those who are important to her. "There's a greater promise we all must live by: to do what our heart tells us is right." Seven Birthdays : 4/5 starsI don’t want to say too much regarding this one, let’s just say that I didn’t expect the scope of this short story to be this massive and insane. It reminded me of reading Death’s End by Cixin Liu. "There is a darkness in human nature that makes certain conflicts irreconcilable." The Message: 4.5/5 stars My favorite story in this collection. A heartwarming, meaningful, and lovely story about responsibility, legacy, and family. "This was a story that would always mean something, a message worth passing on, even in a universe that was cold, dark, and dying." Cutting: 3/5 stars The final story in this collection. A good story about cutting unnecessary words from a book to create a relatively better message/content. "The act of remembering is an act of retracing, and by doing so we erase and change the stencil." Overall rating for The Hidden Girl and Other Stories: 63/90 stars That’s it. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is a clever and thought-provoking collection of short stories by Ken Liu. Diving deep into the possible benefits and destruction caused by technological advancement and digital immortality, Liu conveyed the meaning of life, tragedy, ambition, and so much more in his SFF/contemporary settings. I do think that the personality of the stories listed here lean more towards sci-fi than fantasy, and there’s a good chance that if you love watching The Black Mirror as I did, you’re going to love this one as well. So which Ken Liu’s books I’ll be reading next? Fingers crossed it will be The Dandelion Dynasty series. I already own the first two books in The Dandelion Dynasty for a while now, once there’s an official release date—which I hope will be soon—for The Veiled Throne, I will plan my reading accordingly.You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel NotionsSpecial thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
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  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestThis is my first work of fiction by Ken Liu, so I had no idea what to expect going in. THE HIDDEN GIRL is a collection of short stories, most of which are science-fiction, that dwell on themes of artificial intelligence, the transmittance of culture over time (memes), global warming and climate change, and at its most fundamental level, what it means to be human.Reading these stories made me think of the TV show Love, Death + Robots. Not Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestThis is my first work of fiction by Ken Liu, so I had no idea what to expect going in. THE HIDDEN GIRL is a collection of short stories, most of which are science-fiction, that dwell on themes of artificial intelligence, the transmittance of culture over time (memes), global warming and climate change, and at its most fundamental level, what it means to be human.Reading these stories made me think of the TV show Love, Death + Robots. Not only does it share many of the same themes, it also shares the ability to really bum you the heck out. Even though I'm a fast reader, I couldn't really make it through more than three or four of these stories in a sitting, as they were almost all depressing and many of them had truly tragic or even wretched endings. Do not read this book if you are easily upset and are looking for something uplifting, as I left THE HIDDEN GIRL feeling pretty bummed and in need of a hug.Depressing content aside, most of these stories are excellent. I'm definitely interested in reading more of Liu's work, and liked the focus that he put on having strong and intelligent women in these stories, many of them being of Asian (and more specifically, Chinese) descent. It's hard to rate a short story collection as a whole, which is why I tend to break them down story by story, but this is a pretty solid effort, and I was, on the whole, impressed with what I read, bar a few exceptions that were mediocre/confusing at worst.Mild spoilers ahead! Ghost Days: ☆☆☆½This is a poignant story about an alien colonist who ends up taking solace in the multi-generational saga of a Chinese family's dealings with xenophobic white people as well as their struggle with dual cultural identities. The title is a play on the Chinese term (often offensive, so I won't write here) for white foreigners, which also refers, additionally, to spirits. Both meanings play a role in this story.Maxwell's Demon: ☆☆☆☆This is a story set during WWII about a woman of Okinawan descent who is taken from an internment camp and forced to renounce her citizenship so she can be deported back to Japan as a spy for the Americans. Working in a physics lab, she ends up being the assistant and lover to a scientist developing a weapon that runs on a type of magic, forcing Takako to make a choice about what it easy versus what is right, and which country she should choose to be loyal to when both are wrong.The Reborn: ☆☆☆☆This is a chilling story that occurs in the aftermath of first contact. After a brutal colonization, the invading aliens feel remorse and have turned the other cheek to instill compassion and peace in the very society they destroyed. But their compassion has a dark edge, and the body modifications required of the humans they interact with have a sinister purpose.Thoughts and Prayers: ☆☆☆☆This is a multi-POV story exploring how a mass shooting affects the members of the victim's family, including the POV of a troll who is determined to see that the family suffers.Byzantine Empathy: ☆☆½Confusing story about cryptocurrency, virtual reality, and the dispassion with which we view global conflict when looking through the removed and sanitized lens of social media.The Gods Will Not Be Chained: ☆☆☆☆☆This is honestly my favorite story in the collection. It's heartbreaking, but ends on a note of hope. A girl being bullied ends up gaining the mysterious protection of someone who only speaks in emoji, but, through further attempts at contact, starts to seem kind of familiar...Staying Behind: ☆☆☆☆This is a haunting story about what happens when we get the ability to upload consciousness without a physical body to anchor it. What kind of temptation would a digital existence pose to a venal one, and what would this mean for those who choose to remain behind? This one reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode, or maybe a kinder retelling of The Matrix.Real Artists: ☆☆☆☆☆Another stand-out story in the collection, Real Artists is a rather disillusioning look behind the curtain at the sterile future of creativity, in this case, via the medium of film. I liked it.The Gods Will Not Be Slain: ☆☆☆☆½I loved the opening to this one, and had it continued in that vein, this probably would have been a solid five-- but no, it had to be depressing. This is a sequel to The Gods Will Not Be Chained, and explores the dangers of AI and the painful sacrifices we must make to do good.Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer: ☆☆Meh. Another story about AI and the evanescent nature of all things. This one wasn't really a favorite, I think because it was too similar in topic to several stronger stories that came right before it.The Gods Have Not Died in Vain: ☆☆☆☆The conclusion to the three-part miniseries revolving around AI. I really loved this little miniseries, even though it broke my heart. AI is like the Promethean fire, with advancement meaning tragedy for both the creator and the receivers. It definitely feels like a cautionary tale, like Icarus flying too high.Memories of My Mother: ☆☆½A sad story about a woman dying of terminal disease who decides to cheat time by going into stasis and visiting her daughter once every seven years to cheat her 2 year prognosis. Interesting concept and heart-tugging idea, but the story was too short to pack much of an emotional wallop.Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit-- Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts: ☆☆☆☆Really more of a three and a half, but I rounded up for the beautiful writing and interesting premise. In this story, earth has flooded in the wake of massive climate change, and humans have moved on to colonize other planets. Here, two are deep-sea diving in the remains of Massachusetts, looking at coral and pondering the end.Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard: ☆Really confusing. I didn't understand what was happening in this one at all.A Chase Beyond the Storms: NO RATINGThis is an excerpt from the upcoming third book in one of the author's series. I don't really like this, as it kind of feels like an advertisement masquerading as content.Ads belong in the back.The Hidden Girl: ☆☆☆½The titular story. I always have high hopes for the titular story; I feel like if you're going to name your collection after a story, it should be your strongest work or the most representative of the themes. Neither is the case for The Hidden Girl, which is more fantasy than science-fiction and also very strange. It's about a girl who becomes apprentice to a Buddhist nun with powers, but ends up leaving her order after being asked to kill a man, despite this meaning cutting all ties to the people she considers family.Seven Birthdays: ☆☆½Another really strange story. I didn't get this one either, even though it was nicely written. The Message: ☆☆☆½This is a very sad story about an ancient civilization hiding a secret, the meaning of lost symbols, and a father and daughter who have bonded too late. Easily one of the most depressing stories in the collection, and what makes this even more infuriating is that it feels like it was handled carelessly.Cutting: ☆☆☆A poem, and don't worry-- cutting, here, refers to cuttings of paper and not the more upsetting kind. I know, I had the same concern, given the content in this book. After a series of major downers, it was nice to end on a somewhat lighter note.So there you have it, THE HIDDEN GIRL with all its ups and downs (mostly downs). It's a great work of science-fiction and I do recommend it for fans of Love, Death + Robots, but don't read it when you're having a bad day, as it will likely make you feel worse.And now, to read something happy! :)Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!       3.5 stars
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  • ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
    January 1, 1970
    Quite a lot of heavily conflicted characters. Culture - do you love your own or do you readily embrace the strange one? Be it Ancient China or a mesh of space genetics...This actually could be on par with Bradbury if only the weaker essays were taken out: the politics-based one, the VR one, the algorithmic bullying one... Seriously, it's all so very childish.Excellent stories:The 'Ghost Days', a story about Ona, the half-alien girl, about bubis and else. A lot of else. 'The Reborn' - wowser. Quite a lot of heavily conflicted characters. Culture - do you love your own or do you readily embrace the strange one? Be it Ancient China or a mesh of space genetics...This actually could be on par with Bradbury if only the weaker essays were taken out: the politics-based one, the VR one, the algorithmic bullying one... Seriously, it's all so very childish.Excellent stories:The 'Ghost Days', a story about Ona, the half-alien girl, about bubis and else. A lot of else. 'The Reborn' - wowser. Unique concept, I'd say. What are our memories, anyway? How does history work? What would aliens have to say about it? Lovely...The 'Maxwell's Demon' was, how to put it? Poignant but horrible. How do you put immigrants from a whole nation into camps and then just shrug it off? Yep, Japanese camps - this was not a fair treatment, was it?Ghosts in the machine. The digerati. A bit overboard, wasn't it? The Singularity.The Hidden Girl - a bit too cartoonish but then again, why not? Just like some of the Ancient Chinese legends.Q:“We study classical languages to acquire the habits of mind of the ancients,” Ms. Coron said. “You must know where you came from.” (c)Q:You’ll never see the beautiful floating islands of Tai-Winn or the glorious skyways of Pele, the elegant city-trees of Pollen, or the busy data warrens of Tiron... (c)Q:“The past... thus accumulating bit by bit through recursion, becomes the future.” (c)Q:“See how the universe is straightforward, but to understand it with the intellect, to turn it into language, requires a twist, a sharp turn? Between the World and the Word, there lies an extra curve. When you look at these characters, you’re convening with the history of these artifacts, with the minds of our ancestors from thousands of years ago. That is the deep wisdom of our people, and no Latin letters will ever get at our truth as deeply as our characters.” ...Which is authentic? he thought. The World or the Word? The truth or understanding? (c)Q:“You can’t control what others think... But you can always decide for yourself if you belong.” (c)Q:Family is a story that is told to you, but the story that matters the most you must tell yourself. (c)Q:Remember us, you who treasure the old. (c)Q:Sometimes understanding comes to you not through thought, but through this throbbing of the heart, this tenderness in the chest that hurts. (c)Q:She would show them how she now understood that digging into the past was an act of comprehension, an act of making sense of the universe. (c)Q:I will swear unqualified allegiance to my country when my country frees me and my family. (c)Q:“I have to renounce America to prove that I’m a patriot. You don’t see how stupid this is?” (c)Q:I remember being Reborn. It felt the way I imagine a fish feels as it’s being thrown back into the sea. (c)Q:She did not believe in conspiracies. She was counting on the angels of human nature. (c)Q:A consensus of feelings had replaced the consensus of facts. (c)Q:Too bad it’s hard to make the unglamorous but necessary work of truly understanding a complex situation compelling... (c)Q:“But we were wrong. The brain is holonomic. Each part of the mind, like points in a hologram, encodes some information about the whole image. We were arrogant to think that we could isolate the personality away from the technical know-how.” (c)Q:She could see patterns in the news, insights that eluded those who saw the data but had no understanding. (c)Q:We’ve created gods, she thought, and the gods will not be chained. (c)Q:The Pope denounced the “Digital Adam”; the digerati celebrated; and everyone else struggled to make sense of the new world. (c)Q:“A real artist will do whatever it takes to make a great vision come true... even if it’s just sitting still in a dark room.” (c)Q:Mom is an Ancient, from before the Singularity. There are only a few hundred million of them in the whole universe. (c)Q:The pure beauty of mathematics and the landscapes of the imagination are very lovely, but they are not real. Something has been lost to humanity since we gained this immortal command over an imagined existence. We have turned inward and become complacent. We’ve forgotten the stars and the worlds out there. (c)Q:I would have thought that a world with only three dimensions would be flat and uninteresting. But it’s not true. The colors are more vibrant than any I’ve ever seen, and the world has a random beauty that I could not have imagined. (c)Q:No one ever talks about engineering now. Building with physical atoms is inefficient, inflexible, limited, and consumes so much energy. I’ve been taught that engineering is an art of the dark ages, before people knew any better. Bits and qubits are far more civilized, and give our imaginations free rein. (c)Q:Cloud-born, cloud-borne, she was a mystery. (c)Q:But there were also segments of Mist that puzzled her: the way she seemed to possess so many heuristics for trends in the stock market; the way her thoughts seemed attuned to the subtleties of patents; the way the shapes of her decision algorithms seemed adapted for the methods of warfare. (c)Q:Life is about embodiment... (c)Q:“The world has become too fragile for us to count on people, and so our only choice is to make it even more fragile.” (с)Q:“I am a child of the ether... I do not yearn for something that I never had.” (c)Q:... she had experienced more of the world than Maddie had ever experienced. She could, at will, peek through billions of cameras, listen through billions of microphones, sense the speed of the wind atop Mount Washington and at the same time feel the heat of the lava spilling out of Kilauea. She had known what it was like to gaze down at the world from the International Space Station and what it was like to suffer the stress of kilometers of water pressing down upon a deep-sea submersible’s shell. She was, in a way, far older than Maddie. (c)Q:“Call a woman a financial engineer or a man an agricultural systems analyst, and the world thinks they know something about them,” she wrote. “But what does the job a person has been channeled into have to do with who they are?” (с)Q:A few days after she became the youngest chief managing director for JPMCS, on Solar Epoch 22385200, she handed in her resignation, divorced her husbands and wives, liquidated all her assets, placed the bulk of the proceeds into trusts for her children, and then departed for the Old Blue on a one-way ticket. (c)Q:The stars are invisible from the metal cocoons floating in the heavy atmosphere of Venus; nor do we pay much attention to them from the pressurized domes on Mars. On Earth, the denizens of the climate-controlled cities in habitable zones are preoccupied with scintillating screens and XP implants, the glow of meandering conversation, brightening reputation accounts, and the fading trails left by falling credit scores. They do not look up.One night, as I lay in the habitat drifting over the balmy subtropical Pacific, the stars spun over my face in their habitual course, a million diamantine points of crisp, mathematical light. I realized, with a startled understanding reminiscent of the clarity of childhood, that the face of the heavens was a collage. (c)Q:We do not look.We do not see.We travel millions of miles to seek out fresh vistas without even once having glimpsed inside our skulls, a landscape surely as alien and as wondrous as anything the universe has to offer. ...Only in solitude it is possible to live as self-contained as a star. (c)Q:“Who are we to warm a planet for a dream and to cool it for nostalgia?” (c)Q:We live in a time of chaos, and the only moral choice is to be amoral. (c)Q:“There’s a greater promise we all must live by: to do what our heart tells us is right.” (c)Q:The hidden space has its own structure, made from dangling thin strands that glow faintly with an inner light. (c)Q:She has always been the best at vine fighting and cloud dancing. She glides and swings as gracefully as an immortal of the heavenly court. (c)Q:There’s a glow in her eyes. This is her favorite subject, pitching her mad scientist answer. (c)Q:I had once thought the Singularity would solve all our problems. Turns out it’s just a simple hack for a complicated problem. We do not share the same histories; we do not all want the same things. (c)Q:What follows are aerial shots of worlds both familiar and strange: the Earth, with its temperate climate carefully regulated to sustain the late Holocene; Venus, whose orbit has been adjusted by repeated gravitational slingshots with asteroids and terraformed to become a lush, warm replica of Earth during the Jurassic; and Mars, whose surface has been pelted with redirected Oort cloud objects and warmed by solar reflectors from space until the climate is a good approximation of the dry, cold conditions of the last glaciation on Earth.Dinosaurs now roam the jungles of Aphrodite Terra, and mammoths forage over the tundra of Vastitas Borealis. Genetic reconstructions have been pushed back to the limit of the powerful data centers on Earth. (c)Q:Isn’t it the duty of every intelligent species to rescue all life, even from the dark abyss of time? There is always a technical solution. (c)Q:Thin, circular plates a hundred kilometers in diameter are arranged in a lattice of longitudinal rings around the star until it is completely surrounded. The plates do not orbit the star; rather, they are statites, positioned so that the pressure from the sun’s high-energy radiation counteracts the pull of gravity.On the inner surface of this Dyson swarm, trillions of robots have etched channels and gates into the substrate, creating the most massive circuits in the history of the human race.As the plates absorb the energy from the sun, it is transformed into electric pulses that emerge from cells, flow through canals, commingle in streams, until they gather into lakes and oceans that undulate through a quintillion variations that form the shape of thought. The backs of the plates glow darkly, like embers after a fierce flame. The lower-energy photons leap outward into space, somewhat drained after powering a civilization. But before they can escape into the endless abyss of space, they strike another set of plates designed to absorb energy from radiation at this dimmer frequency. And once again, the process for thought-creation repeats itself. (c)Q:... I always feel that there is a message that the people I study want to pass on. Whatever I discover will be the last testament and whisper of the people of Pi Baeo. In studying them, I become connected to them, and in passing on their message, the human race is no longer so alone. (c)Q:I’d rather he buy that shuttle, and we’ll wander the stars together, weighed down by nothing. (c)Q:A man wants to leave behind his name, and a civilization wants to leave behind its stories. I’m the only thing standing between them and oblivion. (c)
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  • L.S. Popovich
    January 1, 1970
    Ken Liu is one of my top five favorite short story writers working today. And he is really the only one of the bunch being prolific. I believe he has published over 80 stories in most reputable speculative fiction magazines over the past 10 years. He attained the remarkable feat of gaining popularity in the supersaturated medium of speculative fiction magazines. The reason he was able to rise above the rest, I believe, was his storytelling ability, which often combines traditional Chinese Ken Liu is one of my top five favorite short story writers working today. And he is really the only one of the bunch being prolific. I believe he has published over 80 stories in most reputable speculative fiction magazines over the past 10 years. He attained the remarkable feat of gaining popularity in the supersaturated medium of speculative fiction magazines. The reason he was able to rise above the rest, I believe, was his storytelling ability, which often combines traditional Chinese storytelling tropes with razor-edged scientific knowledge. Along with Ted Chiang, I think it is safe to assume that Liu's intelligence is much higher than the average purveyor of science fiction these days. Borderline, if not certified, genius.The Paper Managerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu's rock-solid debut collection, was a masterpiece. The finest collection of short stories to come out of the speculative genre in recent decades. It can hold its own against The Martian Chronicles, Endangered Species, and other must-reads in my opinion. It is not likely to be equaled or surpassed anytime soon. It is very likely to be reread, by me, and very soon. It is an emotionally charged, politically relevant, and breathtaking summation of his career thus far. His silk-punk novel series is still unknown to me. I know I will have to set aside a significant amount of time to read it. I have dabbled in the first volume, but I know I will come back to it when I'm ready. I cannot help but think that that project will be overshadowed by Liu's short story collections to come. It may be wishful thinking, but he was born to write short stories imho. Maybe he will be regarded as another Bradbury one day. This second collection, despite the glowing accolades it has already garnered, is not as perfect as his previous effort. It could still be called a masterpiece, perhaps, but I had several gripes with it. Several stories were a slight chore to get through, it pains me to say. Luckily, the collection is well-rounded and the best stories toward the end of the collection, leaving me with a satiated aftertaste.Taken together the stories become less than the sum of their parts in one distinct way, by virtue of repetition - first of the distracting inclusions of dozens of emojis and the reused character tropes exploring father-daughter and daughter-mother relationships. The family ties in all of Ken Liu's short fiction are critical to the functioning of plot. Here, they are bittersweet and forced. The patterns grated on me, almost as if he recast the same characters in the same roles with slightly differing world building constraints.Taken separately the stories are all pretty strong and engaging. Many themes stand out in this volume including: post human scenarios, virtual reality, AI, mega corporate corruption, environmental activism, post apocalyptic landscapes, uninhabitable earths, atemporal existence, multi dimensional family dynamics, ethics, the troubles of old age, infirmity, and fear of death, war and slavery, extra-terrestrial archaeology, and much more. That sentence right there should give you enough reason to read the collection."The Hidden Girl" was a nice, representative story, an impressive piece of storytelling, combining his trademark Chinese cultural references with his trademark brilliant s-f ideas. Ken Liu remains an incredible writer. His talent is undeniable. He should also be commended for bringing us several volumes of Chinese science fiction in translation. It is hard to know which contribution is more valuable. We are sitting on a veritable treasure trove of untranslated literature, and heroes like Ken Liu are brave enough, and generous enough, to set aside their fame and risk exposing new talent to the masses. I appreciate what you do, Sir.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    Thought provoking, and often chilling, collection of soft sci-fi and fantasy, with many stories examining the unimaginable ramifications of human technological progress spun out of control. A number of stories revolve around the concept of uploaded human consciousness, AKA the "Singularity", where human minds become digitized, no longer requiring physical bodies. The three linked "The Gods.." stories in particular are fascinating looks at this, with the absolutely riveting story "Staying Behind" Thought provoking, and often chilling, collection of soft sci-fi and fantasy, with many stories examining the unimaginable ramifications of human technological progress spun out of control. A number of stories revolve around the concept of uploaded human consciousness, AKA the "Singularity", where human minds become digitized, no longer requiring physical bodies. The three linked "The Gods.." stories in particular are fascinating looks at this, with the absolutely riveting story "Staying Behind" as a kind of CODA to these. Together these seemingly make up the heart of this collection and were certainly highlights for me.Though many are certainly chilling in their implications, Liu tells these stories with warmth and heart. The messages are clearly ominous - warnings that humanity's belief that we can keep transformational, and potentially devastating, technologies bottled up is almost certainly a fallacy. Thoughts on some of the individual stories -The Reborn (4.5) - Chilling story of alien invaders who constantly shed their memories and remake themselves, and can "rebirth" humans by radically manipulating their memories, which they do to eliminate resistance to their presence. Liu uses the story to examine the connection between memory and identity, as well as to the perception of self and reality. If you've read Octavia E. Butler's classic Xenogenesis series, the symbiotic yet parasitic alien-human relationships depicted here will feel familiar.The Gods Will Not Be Chained (4.0) - Examines the "pursuit of digital immortality, the fusion of man and machine, the Singularity" and the futility of trying to keep the genie of uploaded consciousnesses in a bottle.Staying Behind (5.0) - A kind of final chapter in the "The Gods.." series of stories. A riveting look at the post apocalyptic world left to the few scraps of humanity who holdout from uploading to the Singularity. In my opinion, this should be read after the three "The Gods.." stories, rather than in the order presented.Real Artists (4.0) - A kind of chilling look at the transformation of art into engineering and what that means for the role of the "artist". Creativity and artistic inspiration supplanted by big data and algorithms.The Gods Will Not Be Slain (4.0) - A sequel to The Gods Will Not Be Chained , examining the conflicts and disastrous consequences on the world of the unleashing of the uploaded digital consciousnesses.The Gods Have Not Died in Vain (4.0) - A sequel to The Gods Will Not Be Slain where we see a post apocalyptic society trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of devastation and chaos.Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit - Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts (3.5) - Hundreds of years in the future, after the climate changed induced flooding of the Earth and man's settling of other parts of the solar system, a philosopher of sorts visits the flooded ancient ruins of Boston and ponders the wisdom of destroying Earth's new habitats while attempting to rollback the changes wrought by humanity.The Hidden Girl (4.0) - A delightful story of a girl abducted at a young age and trained as an assassin. Liu's beautiful and evocative style is magical in and of itself.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    My only experience with Ken Liu thus far has been in his translation of Cixin Lius The Three Body Problem and Deaths End.  But I know he has a few beloved books already published out there, so I jumped at the chance to read this.I generally try to read the introduction whenever one is included, and I definitely recommend reading the intro to The Hidden Girl and Other Stories.  Liu talks a little about his writing process and how he went about selecting stories for this book.  He says that My only experience with Ken Liu thus far has been in his translation of Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and Death’s End.  But I know he has a few beloved books already published out there, so I jumped at the chance to read this.I generally try to read the introduction whenever one is included, and I definitely recommend reading the intro to The Hidden Girl and Other Stories.  Liu talks a little about his writing process and how he went about selecting stories for this book.  He says that stories are co-told by an author’s words and a reader’s interpretation; that writing a story is like building a house in which the reader moves in, arranges the furniture and decor to suit their tastes, and settles down.He also goes on to say that it would be impossible for him to construct a home in which everyone was comfortable, so he selected the stories that he himself felt most comfortable in, and asks that the reader “find a story..to make [their] home.”  I adored the metaphor and knew with that short but sweet introduction I was in for a treat.That being said, I really am terrible at reviewing collections.  So terrible in fact, that I’ve put this off for two months because I read it in December.  It took me a week because these were stories that often required some processing afterward, so I know it’s worthy of a fantastic review and I’ve no idea how to convey that to you.So bare with me friends, I’m doing my best.The first two stories “Ghost Days” and “Maxwell’s Demon” absolutely blew me out of the water.  They were both eye opening, haunting.  They were stories I think it would benefit everyone to read at least once.  While “Ghost Days” is about the importance of history and immigrant experience in America, “Maxwell’s Demon” is about the experience of a woman of Japanese descent in America during WWII.For me, the stories that follow didn’t quite live up to the enormous standard by those first two stories.  What they do instead, is follow, as Liu himself put it, a “meta-narrative”.  Trailing different and yet similar themes (AI, digital immortality, virtual reality, shared experiences, parent-child relationships, etc.) weaving together an inventive tapestry of Science Fiction and Fantasy.I will say this book ventures to some dark places.  Sometimes I’d read a story and have to put the book down for a bit because it was that dark.  Many stories don’t have a happy ending.I do think the book finished strong, despite being a little bogged down in the middle.  Other highlights include the miniseries starting with “The Gods Will Not Be Chained” and “The Hidden Girl”.In the end, I liked The Hidden Girl and Other Stories enough that I will certainly be checking out Liu’s other work.  This collection is well worth picking up for fans and newcomers alike.The Hidden Girl and Other Stories releases on February 25, 2020.  Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC for review.
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  • TL
    January 1, 1970
    I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own. ----If you want to see my individual ratings for the stories, its all in my status updates :)This was a fun collection. Some stories were more interesting than others, but all of them kept my attention and a few got me thinking about what it would be like if they actually happened. A couple did have me scratching my head and wondering why it was in the collection (didn't dampen my enjoyment at all). I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own. ----If you want to see my individual ratings for the stories, its all in my status updates :)This was a fun collection. Some stories were more interesting than others, but all of them kept my attention and a few got me thinking about what it would be like if they actually happened. A couple did have me scratching my head and wondering why it was in the collection (didn't dampen my enjoyment at all).One thing I was confused over was why there was a book preview of book three in another series of his. Just a fair warning to those of you like me who don't care for book previews.Will definitely be checking out more of this author's work!This one kept me company during a hectic retail work schedule (a wonder anyone keeps their sanity this time of year) and I was kind of glad I could take my time with this in a way.Would recommend :)(sorry for short review, just really tired.. may add more later)
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  • The Captain
    January 1, 1970
    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this short story  collection eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .One of the best short stories I have ever read was Ken Liu's the paper menagerie which in 2012 was the first work to win the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.  Ye can read it for free by clicking here.  This lovely cover for his second short story collection caught me eye and I was excited to read more of his work.  This book has 16 Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this short story  collection eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .One of the best short stories I have ever read was Ken Liu's the paper menagerie which in 2012 was the first work to win the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.  Ye can read it for free by clicking here.  This lovely cover for his second short story collection caught me eye and I was excited to read more of his work.  This book has 16 stories from the past five years and a brand new novelette.  There were 19 all together.All short story collections are kinda hard to review.  I usually try to give thoughts about each story individually but I am not able to do that for this book.  This stems from the fact that the stories, as the author's preface states, have been arranged by the editor into a "meta-narrative."  The stories at the beginning seem to standalone but later stories have many characters and plots reappear.  I think the beginning of the collection was the strongest but much of the middle blurred together and felt very slow for reasons I will get to.  Here are the stories that I loved:"Ghost Days" - The first story was cool and the historical fiction aspects excellent.  I didn't particularly love the ending but I did learn about bubi which are awesome Chinese coins.  After the story I went looking to find out more about them and found this cool page."Maxwell's Demon"- This was the second story and the best for me.  It deals with the Japanese internment in 1943 and ghosts.  Poignant and beautiful."Thoughts and Prayers" - A thought-provoking tale about the consequences of a mass shooting on one family and how the digital world impacts how each member deals with grief."Real Artists" - A weird but fascinating look at how films could be made."Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard" - Cool magic.  Super fun characters.  I wouldn't mind this one being expanded into a longer form."The Hidden Girl"- Assassins and magic.  Arrrr!"The Message"- Lovely story about familial bonds, alien archaeology, and tough choices.  Bittersweet.About 30% of the way through is where the tone switched.  Much of the middle of this book deals with the unforeseen impact of technology advancing.  One story dealt with what happens when ye crowdfund charity and the non-profits have to compete.  Multiple stories dealt with uploading the human consciousness to computers.Two repeating ones were 1) a girl, Maddie, who talks to her dead AI father and 2) the Singularity which is where people gave up their physical bodies.  Many of the stories with Maddie used emoji which I couldn't see very well on me Kindle and couldn't enlarge.  It irked me and I missed a lot of the meaning.  I enjoyed the Singularity ones better.  But the switching back and forth did lead to some whiplash.  And some of the tech made no sense to me so I was just confused about what was going on.At 65% it switched to fantasy second with the "Grey Rabbit" story.  I loved that one.  Next from 76 - 81% there was an excerpt from the third Dandelion Dynasty book.  Horrible, horrible choice.  It didn't fit and should have been put at the end of the book if they wanted to promote it.  Blech.  "The Hidden Girl" was next.  Fantastic story whose theme and tone matched the "Grey Rabbit" story.  The remainder of the stories were good.Out of the 19 stories, I loved 7, enjoyed 7, and didn't like 5.  That is pretty darn good for me and a collection.  So while there were quibbles, I am very glad to have read this collection.So lastly . . .Thank you Saga Press!
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    Average Rating : ⭐⭐⭐.9After really enjoying Ken Lius previous short story anthology a lot, there was no way I was letting this ARC go and I jumped at the opportunity to be able to review it. This is another collection of fascinating stories by the author, most of them sci-fi/dystopian but a couple of them are fantasy as well. There are also multiple stories which are interconnected but told in no particular order, so it was fun trying to find the connections between them. One theme that I Average Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️.9After really enjoying Ken Liu’s previous short story anthology a lot, there was no way I was letting this ARC go and I jumped at the opportunity to be able to review it. This is another collection of fascinating stories by the author, most of them sci-fi/dystopian but a couple of them are fantasy as well. There are also multiple stories which are interconnected but told in no particular order, so it was fun trying to find the connections between them. One theme that I found very dominant in this collection is that of climate change, how we are at a precipice and have to do something substantial from right now if we want to save our planet; but also that as the situation gets worse, all the problems we currently have with wealth inequality and refugees and developed countries exploiting resources disproportionately will only get more exacerbated. This also means that many of the stories in this collection are tragic and depressing, so I would definitely recommend reading them when you are in the right mood and also maybe not binge read the whole thing at once. I would definitely recommend it though, because the concepts are very interesting and the writing for the most part is excellent. Ghost Days Spanning multiple planets and timelines, this was a nice story about memories and heritage, and how we all carry the legacy of our previous generations within us and why it’s important to preserve their knowledge.⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Maxwell’s Demon Told through a POV of a Japanese American young woman who is sent to Japan as a spy during WWII, this one has a bit of supernatural elements but mostly it’s about the futility of war and how it twists everyone’s morality. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 The Reborn I really don’t think I have much to say about this story. It was interesting to read and a bit tragic too, but don’t think I can explain it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thoughts and Prayers CW: mass shooting, online trolling and harassmentAs soon as I saw the title of this story, I could guess what it’s about. It’s about the effects of grief on family members of victims, how each person tries to cope in their own ways and how that might drive them apart. There is also some interesting discussion on activism, politicizing grief and the incessant trolling that comes along with it - I’m still not sure if I agree with all the points made but it’s a lot to think about. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Byzantine Empathy Against a backdrop of a technologically advanced (but current) world with heavy emphasis on VR and cryptocurrencies, this story is all about empathy vs rationality, how do we decide who needs help, and how even being immersed in the pain of others might invoke cynicism in people instead of empathy because we have lost our trust in geopolitics. I can’t really explain the elaborate discussions that happen in this story but it’s very thought provoking and I think everyone should give it a read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Gods Will Not Be Chained With the concept of digital immortality, this story tries to explore what would happen if corporations tried to digitize the brains of their dead genius employees for profit and these highly technological brains decided to takeover. A very terrifying tale but definitely thought provoking.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Staying Behind This is almost like a continuation of the previous one, but years later when the technically dead/digitally conscious have taken over (an event called Singularity) and the rest of the living world is just scraping for survival. This was way too depressing and scary to read.⭐️⭐️⭐️ Real Artists Another tale of high technological advancement, this time in the making of movies. I really don’t want to spoil this one at all because I thought the concept was amazing, thought provoking and almost felt like it’s a possible future for us and wouldn’t that be too sad. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Gods Will Not Be Slain This is a direct continuation of the story “The gods will not be chained” and it’s such a scary and plausible story, what can happen if digital sentiences decide that they want to burn down humanity and plunge it into war, how fragile geopolitics is and how everyone is literally on the brink of war while sitting on a mass pile of nuclear weapons. Really brings some of what’s happening in our current world into perspective. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer Years after Singularity where only digital beings seem to be existent on our planet, this is the story of how relationships develop even among them, and also how different a three dimensional earth might seem like to a digital being who has never been a human before. Fascinating story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Gods Have Not Died in Vain This story a sequel of “The gods will not be slain” is more about how the idea of singularity came to be, how the incessant wars and scarcity of resources may have led people to decide that giving up the body to live digitally might be the only way to survive. There are a lot of interesting points made in the story that leave us with more questions about life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Memories of My Mother This was a very very short story about a mother’s love for her child and to what lengths she will go to get the little time to spend with her daughter. It could have been more emotional but I wasn’t feeling it. ⭐️⭐️.5 Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit—Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts In a world centuries after climate change has destroyed most of it, where successful countries have managed to migrate to other planets but the poorer people try to survive in ever harsh environments on the ravaged earth - this story is almost like a scary mirror of what our future might be if we don’t start taking decisive action from now on. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard Set in a dystopian fantasy world, this was a tale about how power and greed corrupts, leading to the protectors becoming predators themselves - which in turn means that those who are poor or considered prey must rise up in arms and protect themselves. This was a fascinating read and one that I felt could make a bigger story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Chase Beyond the Storms - An excerpt from The Veiled Throne, The Dandelion Dynasty, book three Not reviewing this excerpt because I haven’t read this series yet. The Hidden Girl Set in a fantasy world inspired by 8th century China, this is a story of a young female assassin who’s been trained to kill but starts questioning if her loyalty to her Teacher must supersede her own morality. A lovely read but what made it special were the action sequences which reminded me a lot of the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Seven Birthdays Another story interconnected to the previous ones related to Singularity, this is about one woman’s mission to find a solution to humanity’s problems, but ultimately just be able to spend more time with her mother. I can’t say I understood much of the story in the second half. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Message A story about legacy, how even dead civilizations leave messages for anyone who might come eons later; also a tale of a father finally getting to know his daughter - this story was beautiful and emotional but also tragic. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Cutting I’m not sure I can explain exactly what this story was about - but it was something about looking through the unnecessary stuff and finding the truth underneath. ⭐️⭐️.5
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  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    Exceptional collection from one of our very best SF authors. At his best, hes as good as any writer in the business. As always, I liked some stories more than others. Rating based on my favorites, all SF: 4 stars. Most of the fantasies didnt work for me.Highlights:● Seven Birthdays (2016), http://www.tor.com/2016/11/15/reprint... A million or so years in the life of Mia and her Mom. Ken Liu dreams big in this meticulous, breathtaking hard-SF tale of the transition from organic to silicon-based Exceptional collection from one of our very best SF authors. At his best, he’s as good as any writer in the business. As always, I liked some stories more than others. Rating based on my favorites, all SF: 4 stars. Most of the fantasies didn’t work for me.Highlights:● Seven Birthdays (2016), http://www.tor.com/2016/11/15/reprint... A million or so years in the life of Mia and her Mom. Ken Liu dreams big in this meticulous, breathtaking hard-SF tale of the transition from organic to silicon-based life. 5+ stars, my favorite of his shorts. More: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ● Ghost Days (2013), http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... Three stories about the immigrant experience, from Hong Kong in 1905, Connecticut in 1989, and Nova Pacifica, a new colony world, in 2313. First-rate story: 4+ stars. ● Byzantine Empathy (2018). A young Chinese programmer designs a block-chain cryptocurrency to help refugees. A powerful and thoughtful near-future SF novelette. 4 stars● Staying Behind (2011), http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/liu_1... Will Uploading bring the Singularity? Thoughtful, bittersweet story. 4 stars.The stories:● Ghost Days (2013), http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... Three stories about the immigrant experience, from Hong Kong in 1905, Connecticut in 1989, and Nova Pacifica, a new colony world, in 2313. I liked the SF part best, but this is a first-rate story throughout. 4+ stars. ● Maxwell’s Demon (2012). A young Nisei woman, a physics grad student before being interned, is sent to Japan as a spy in 1943. It doesn’t work out for her, or for Japan. Grim ending is historically accurate. Science fantasy, 3.5 stars.● The Reborn (2014), https://www.tor.com/2014/01/29/reborn... An unpleasant paranoia-piece about an alien invasion. Not for me. 2 stars● Thoughts and Prayers (2019), https://slate.com/technology/2019/01/... A college girl was a victim of a mass shooting. Her mother agrees to make her a poster-girl for gun control. Then the trolls arrive…. Memorable story that I pretty much hated. 1.5 stars, for me. Many other readers liked it. ● Byzantine Empathy (2018). A young Chinese programmer designs “Empathium,” a block-chain cryptocurrency to help refugees. Her American roommate in college, now a board member in a prominent NGO, happens to meet her old friend in a war zone in Burma. A powerful and thoughtful near-future SF novelette. 4 stars● The Gods Will Not Be Chained (2015, Apocalypse Triptych #1). A brilliant computer engineer, on his deathbed, is forcibly uploaded by his company. First of 3 linked stories — which amount to a novella.● The Gods Will Not Be Slain (2015, Apocalypse Triptych #2). Uploading becomes common. Unhappy consequences. Widespread warfare.● The Gods Have Not Died in Vain (2015, Apocalypse Triptych #3). Is Uploading better than Real Life? Maybe so…. 3.5 stars for this interesting, if implausible(?) medium-future SF story.● Staying Behind (2011), http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/liu_1... Will Uploading bring the Singularity? Thoughtful, bittersweet story, recommended. 4 stars.● Real Artists (2011), http://escapepod.org/2013/01/03/ep377... A new way to make movies disappoints an aspiring filmmaker. 3.5 stars.● Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer (2010). Liu’s first posthuman story. Klein bottles, whales & the Chrysler Building are featured—but no reindeer. 3+ stars.● Memories of My Mother (2012), http://dailysciencefiction.com/scienc.... Good but confusing sort-of sequel to “Reindeer”. 3+ stars.● Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit—Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts (2016) (reread). Asa organized the terraforming of both Mars and Earth. Then she quit to become a hermit. Strange story, reprinted in Dozois #34. 3.5 stars● Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard (2020). A brother & sister work a small midden mine in a post-collapse society. The story morphs into a transformation science-fantasy. I didn’t much care for it. First publication here.● The Hidden Girl (2017), http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... Fantasy set in the Imperial court of Tang Dynasty China.● Seven Birthdays (2016), http://www.tor.com/2016/11/15/reprint... A million or so years in the life of Mia and her Mom. Ken Liu dreams big in this meticulous, breathtaking hard-SF tale of the transition from organic to silicon-based life. 5+ stars, my favorite of his shorts. ● The Message (2012). A xenoarchaeologist and his daughter explore alien ruins and make a fateful discovery. Pretty hokey story, I thought. 2.5 stars.● Cutting (2012), https://galli-books.co.uk/2018/08/06/... An odd religious fantasy that I didn’t much care for. All of 500 words, so try it for yourself.Thanks to the publisher & NetGalley for the eARC.
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely magnificent. And any other superlatives that I might throw in. Ken Liu's short fiction at it's best reminds me of Ray Bradbury.
  • Beth Cato
    January 1, 1970
    Ken Liu is one of the best short story tellers out there in genre fiction right now. His new collection displays the depth and diversity of his work, though AI is a definite theme threaded throughout. I had read a few of these stories before, but most were new to me. A few didn't quite click for me. Most, however, were fantastic. Stand-outs included "Thoughts and Prayers," "Seven Birthdays," and "The Message." I fully expect to see this book up for awards next year.
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  • Megan Forrest
    January 1, 1970
    I was first introduced to Ken Liu through his translations of Chinese SciFi short stories when we were preparing potential classes on comparative universes as one of our teaching units, so I was very interested to read The Hidden Girl and Other Stories and gain a better understanding of his own original work. Ken Liu fits in that section of SciFi that I really prefer to classify in the speculative fiction range since a lot of his developments are based on real (or at least in the research I was first introduced to Ken Liu through his translations of Chinese SciFi short stories when we were preparing potential classes on comparative universes as one of our teaching units, so I was very interested to read The Hidden Girl and Other Stories and gain a better understanding of his own original work. Ken Liu fits in that section of SciFi that I really prefer to classify in the speculative fiction range since a lot of his developments are based on real (or at least in the research phase!) movements, inventions, and concepts. Through his stories, Liu explores the ideas behind what the future for the human race holds, the role of digital technology in our lives and in the potential to save our world, manipulate our galaxy, explore the universe, including the question of whether we should. The book itself is wonderfully structured with a novella divided up into chapters scattered throughout. Returning to this story was an absolute delight each time. The title story, The Hidden Girl, is perhaps the most 'odd one out', and borderlines on fantasy. Despite the difference it provides, or perhaps also because of it, it is a delightful tale. I have read/heard that is has been optioned for film/series, so make sure you read the original first! While there does seem to be a distinct genre difference between The Hidden Girl and much of the rest of the short stories, there is one commonality between all of them - the exploration of our humanity and what it means to be human. Since I finished the stories, they have stayed with me (despite reading other books in between!) and I have made so many links to many of the stories in conversations. This book is a must-read.
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Hidden Girl and Other StoriesAuthor: Ken LiuPublisher: Saga/Gallery PressPublication Date: February 25, 2020Review Date: November 14, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.From the blurb:From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories. Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from Book Review: The Hidden Girl and Other StoriesAuthor: Ken LiuPublisher: Saga/Gallery PressPublication Date: February 25, 2020Review Date: November 14, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.From the blurb:“From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories. Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years—sixteen of his best—plus a new novelette.”The blurb in no way describes how outstanding this book of short stories is. His stories are beyond sci fi. They are incredible original speculative fiction. Way outside the box. To be honest, I barely understood what some of the stories were about, at least in a left-brain way. The ways are about the near future, the far future, about worlds I can’t begin to imagine. But many of today’s issues are included. Social media. Trolls. War. Things we experience today, but just a little beyond our current experience. And some way outside our experience. I highly, highly recommend this book. I am in awe of what the author conceives. The worlds, the ways of life. The dystopia. Life after the Singularity when people no longer live in bodies, but live for eternity as digital minds. This is one book you cannot miss this year, if you like sci fi or speculative fiction. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me early access to this book. Good luck to the author with his career. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #sagagallerypress #thehiddengirl #kenliu
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  • ReadBecca
    January 1, 1970
    I requested and received a copy of this book for honest review, thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author.This was an incredible collection of mostly previously published work, primarily SF with a couple fantasy items thrown in. It being Liu there are obvious linguistic nods throughout the whole collection, but also a patchwork of similar themes explored throughout family bonds in odd time scales pop up frequently, societies grappling with dystopic conditions versus singularity as well. For I requested and received a copy of this book for honest review, thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author.This was an incredible collection of mostly previously published work, primarily SF with a couple fantasy items thrown in. It being Liu there are obvious linguistic nods throughout the whole collection, but also a patchwork of similar themes explored throughout – family bonds in odd time scales pop up frequently, societies grappling with dystopic conditions versus singularity as well. For me the majority of stories contained are 5-star near perfection, however the collection as a whole maybe felt like it should have been edited of a couple stories (including the title story) that just feel totally disconnected from what could have been a thematically cohesive collection – or maybe I’m just not quite smart enough for some of these. It also contains a short excerpt from Dandelion Dynasty Book 3, which I am sure everyone out there is hyped to check out.Separate from the individual stories there is also a triptych of stories spread through the collection - The Gods Will Not Be Chained, The Gods Will Not Be Slain, and The Gods Have Not Died In Vain. This trio really could have been released as a novella, but they also have wonderful interplay with the themes of other stories, so it makes sense how they are broken up. The story follows a young girl who discovers there are ghosts in the machine, and they speak to her via emoji. There is a brilliant storytelling approach mixing standard narrative, emoji conversations, and news briefings (bulleted lists of headlines) that make for something unique.-------------------------------------Ghost days - Snippets of different lives. Genetically engineered plant-human children learn dead computer languages to honor the human past they are completely cut off from. A young Chinese man who came to America with parents as refugees around Tiananmen Square, has an honest conversation with his date's father. A forger of items in nearer modern times. Maxwell’s Demon - A prisoner in Japanese-American internment camp is coerced to renounce her citizenship in order to serve her country. A very powerful depiction of identity and home.The Reborn - Reverse alien abduction, partial memory wipes, and anti-alien terrorist plot. We are each composed of many men.Thoughts and Prayers - The perspectives of family members of a girl who is a victim in a mass shooting. They all feel digital memories of her aren't enough for them, but they might be able to make a difference if shared. A chilling look at social media and online culture. (If this isn’t made into an episode of Love Death an Robots they have made a serious mistake.)Byzantine Empathy - A cryptocurrency/blockchain powered direct charitable donation program is launched (seems similar to Kiva, but crypto), VR experiences of project applicants submitted are causing ethical disagreements from two women, former college roommates, who are now on opposing sides in prominent positions. Leads with the tech, then builds into a philosophical argument of extreme rationality versus extreme empathy.Staying Behind - The world is breaking down into a chaotic dystopia, people are escaping it by uploading their consciousness. Told in fragments of family life as they try to retain some normalcy that eventually turns into historical re-enactment and stagnation in absence of a world where progress is possible.Real Artists - A woman has dreamed of working at Pixar Semaphore her whole life, then she finally gets a look behind the curtain.Altogether Elsewhere Vast Herds of Reindeer, Memories of My Mother & Seven Birthdays - Explorations of parenthood in distorted time.Dispatches from the Cradle: the Hermit - Forty Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts: A tech giant quits her job to settle as a hermit and poet floating above the drowned Boston area.Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard - In a society where shapeshifters hold the power, the least expected are most prepared to stand up to corruption.The Hidden Girl - A girl is raised as a thief and assassin by a mysterious nun.The Message - A parent and his child show up alone to research and understand an abandoned alien city before it is destroyed.Cutting - An erasure poem of monks cutting away their holy book.
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  • Auderoy Lin
    January 1, 1970
    QUOTES:The story is co-told by the author and the reader, and every story is incomplete until a reader comes along and interprets it.The past, thus accumulating bit by bit through recursion, becomes the future.People were mostly friendly, but a thousand smiles, whispers, little gestures that each individually seemed so innocuous added up to you don't belong.Which is authentic? The World or the Word? The truth or understanding?Sometimes understanding comes to you not through thought, but through QUOTES:The story is co-told by the author and the reader, and every story is incomplete until a reader comes along and interprets it.The past, thus accumulating bit by bit through recursion, becomes the future.People were mostly friendly, but a thousand smiles, whispers, little gestures that each individually seemed so innocuous added up to you don't belong.Which is authentic? The World or the Word? The truth or understanding?Sometimes understanding comes to you not through thought, but through this throbbing of the heart, this tenderness in the chest that hurts.A war opened a door in men, and whatever was inside just tumbled out. The entropy of the world increased, in the absence of a demon by the door. That was the way of war, wasn't it?You are what you remember.Popular apathy functioned more effectively than any official censorship.And wasn't feeling the entire point of being human?I understand how she thinks, but she doesn't understand how I think. I understand her language, but she doesn't understand mine--or care to. That's how power works in this world.She was transported to another world. That was the point of great art.Nostalgia is a wound that we refuse time to heal.Only in solitude is it possible to live as self-contained as a star.We do not know who we are. But we dare not stop striving to find out.I am a thief after all. I've stolen my life for myself, and I will steal back the lives of others.It's impossible for everyone to agree upon a single vision for the future of humanity. Thankfully, we no longer have to share the same planet.Even as they were dying, they thought to look outside themselves and speak to the future.The act of remembering is an act of retracing, and by doing so we erase and change the stencil.
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  • Maggie Rotter
    January 1, 1970
    I've been following Ken Liu's career through his translations that have opened the world of contemporary Chinese science fiction to English speaking readers. These include Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem and two collections of short stories written in China by current authors. His first collection of his own stories, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories , is a multiple prize winner that is accessible to a broad reading audience. The Hidden Girl should extend that audience with more I've been following Ken Liu's career through his translations that have opened the world of contemporary Chinese science fiction to English speaking readers. These include Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem and two collections of short stories written in China by current authors. His first collection of his own stories, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories , is a multiple prize winner that is accessible to a broad reading audience. The Hidden Girl should extend that audience with more thoughtful, imaginative short pieces that "eloquently explore the place where ordinary and the extraordinary meet. (The Washington Post March 22nd, 2016)".
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  • Veronica
    January 1, 1970
    ARC via Netgalley. You know how you can read something and recognize that it's perfectly good and know exactly which other people will like it a lot and simultaneously not like it at all? That's how I feel about the scifi stories in this collection. (I did actually quite like the handful of fantasy stories!) They're very interested in the ethical quandaries caused by scientific advances -- "what if we figured out how to upload human consciousness to a computer" is the jumping-off point for a lot ARC via Netgalley. You know how you can read something and recognize that it's perfectly good and know exactly which other people will like it a lot and simultaneously not like it at all? That's how I feel about the scifi stories in this collection. (I did actually quite like the handful of fantasy stories!) They're very interested in the ethical quandaries caused by scientific advances -- "what if we figured out how to upload human consciousness to a computer" is the jumping-off point for a lot of them, there's one that's about how guilt/punishment would work in a society with the capability of erasing all knowledge of a crime from the perpetrator's memory, and probably my favorite of the lot, a faux longform article about a climate change activist who is campaigning against trying to revert the earth back to a previous temperature because it will destroy the organisms and societies that have adapted to the new status quo. I'm just not terribly interested in ethical debates, I guess. But it's definitely a matter of personal taste! The stories are good even if they're not up my alley.
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  • Isaiah
    January 1, 1970
    To see more reviews check them out here.I got an ARC of this book.I had never heard of Ken Liu before I saw that cover. I checked him out on Goodreads and saw some people I really admire loved his work, so I thought "why not?". I know ringing endorsement and super excitement on my part. I promise my excitement level rose. From the first time I opened the book and started reading, I was hooked. The stories are so in depth and feel so full. One of my biggest complaints with short stories is I To see more reviews check them out here.I got an ARC of this book.I had never heard of Ken Liu before I saw that cover. I checked him out on Goodreads and saw some people I really admire loved his work, so I thought "why not?". I know ringing endorsement and super excitement on my part. I promise my excitement level rose. From the first time I opened the book and started reading, I was hooked. The stories are so in depth and feel so full. One of my biggest complaints with short stories is I generally feel like I am not getting a full story or I am left wanting more in a bad way. Liu seems to know exactly when to stop. Each of the stories ended at just the right spot. I got enough information to have a full world. I got enough to feel satisfied by each story.Well, sort of satisfied. A few of the stories had another chunk later in the collection. Those chunks were also magnificent, but they opened me up even more to the world making me wish for a longer book. Liu still managed to end in just the right spot to make me satisfied, but I am mad about it. How dare he play my emotions so perfectly!Some of the stories felt interwoven. They were clearly in a similar world or even the same world as other stories. The ideas Liu came up with are just incredible. There were very few stories were I wasn't riveted. The few that I was a bit eh on, managed to hook me by the end. There were little twists and turns. There were aliens. There were cyber people (sorta?). There was a lot of sci in the sci-fi. It focused around computers a lot, but in a way that was far above my head. The descriptions were often above my head, but they sounded like something that would work. If you know computers, please read this and let me know!I only skipped one story. It was an except from book three in a series. I have not read the first two books. I just didn't want to spoil how much I was loving the book by being dropped into a world I was not ready for. This is not a judgement on the author or the story. This was all on me. I have every intention of checking out more by Liu. I want to see if his other short stories are as incredible as this collection or if this collection was just perfectly curated for me. Wish me luck. Read this book. 
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  • Dan Trefethen
    January 1, 1970
    Ken Liu's short fiction was highlighted in his first collection, The Paper Menagerie, the best single author collection of the year (IMHO) in science fiction. This is his second collection and shares some of his same concerns of racial injustice, but also profiles his questing mind over technology. There are stories that focus around mathematics and near-term advanced technologies, but a recurring theme in this collection is the possibility of uploading consciousness to a digital environment. Ken Liu's short fiction was highlighted in his first collection, “The Paper Menagerie”, the best single author collection of the year (IMHO) in science fiction. This is his second collection and shares some of his same concerns of racial injustice, but also profiles his questing mind over technology. There are stories that focus around mathematics and near-term advanced technologies, but a recurring theme in this collection is the possibility of uploading consciousness to a digital environment. There is a series of linked stories that deal with that, plus a couple of other standalones.The recent expansion of AI in our business and social lives has led Ken to think about what an advanced AI would look like, and would data derived from a human brain be sufficiently human-like to be considered human, or another form of artificial intelligence posing as a simulacrum of a particular human.As always, Ken Liu makes you think and takes you to places you never experienced before.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Oh boy. I bought this one on my first day of working at The Bookstore because 1) we had it in a few days early, 2) I loved The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Grace of Kings, and 3) I was willing to break my rule of only buying books Ive already read and would unquestioningly lend to friends to commemorate my Bookstore Birthday.Read my full review here: https://amyhuang.work/blog/2020/3/2/t... Oh boy. I bought this one on my first day of working at The Bookstore because 1) we had it in a few days early, 2) I loved The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Grace of Kings, and 3) I was willing to break my rule of only buying “books I’ve already read and would unquestioningly lend to friends” to commemorate my Bookstore Birthday.Read my full review here: https://amyhuang.work/blog/2020/3/2/t...
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  • Hillary Copsey
    January 1, 1970
    The collection should've been edited more tightly, however, the stories, especially early in the collection, are beautifully written and thought-provoking. I read this just as I finished listening to Sapiens, Harari's history of the development of humankind, and Liu's speculative fiction was an intriguing extension of that book, considering the ways we might continue to evolve.
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  • ylva a.
    January 1, 1970
    It's Ken Liu and Naomi Novik's 2020, we're just living in it
  • Midu Hadi
    January 1, 1970
    Ghost Days: ☆☆☆What would be the most important thing to a dying civilization? Whether alien or not, we all want to think we wont be erased completely by history. A group of humans are trying to colonize an inhospitable planet. Their solution: hold onto Earths memories and traditions and imbue them on a hybrid generation. But would the new generation value them as much as the humans do?I liked how a rebellious hybrid teen came to realize the importance of being remembered. The opening reminded Ghost Days: ☆☆☆What would be the most important thing to a dying civilization? Whether alien or not, we all want to think we won’t be erased completely by history. A group of humans are trying to colonize an inhospitable planet. Their solution: hold onto Earth’s memories and traditions and imbue them on a hybrid generation. But would the new generation value them as much as the humans do?I liked how a rebellious hybrid teen came to realize the importance of being remembered. The opening reminded me of how the book, The Girl with All the Gifts, started. I loved that one too.Maxwell’s Demon: ☆☆☆☆The aftermath of the event that led to US participating in WWII serves as the backdrop of this story. An American woman of Okinawan descent — just one of the many living in internment camps — becomes the “No-No Girl” when she fails to answer a complicated question about her allegiance with a “yes” or “no”. She is forced to return to Japan and spy for her country. A heartbreaking story that couldn’t have ended in a positive way.One of my favorites!The Reborn: ☆☆With an Altered Carbon flavor, this story describes a world where the aliens subjugating humans can literally become other “better” or reborn versions of themselves. But can humanity forgive what was done to them?It isn’t that I didn’t like the story. I just found it too familiar, so it didn’t surprise me.Thoughts and Prayers: ☆☆☆A mass shooting claims the life of a young girl. The story follows what happens when her mother takes her grief online and public. Thus, it shows how the effects of trolling and cyber-bullying can seep into real life.Well-written. At first, I thought the parts about the release of porn featuring the girl were unrealistic. But then the deepfake technology came to mind. We’ve just gotten it and there’s plenty of time to misuse or weaponize it!Byzantine Empathy: ☆☆A cryptocurrency based on empathy to help people in war-torn countries arrives on the scene. The trouble is its presence undercuts the role of charities with global reach. The story follows two friends with opposing POVs.I loved the idea and wanted to steal it — relax, I didn’t. But what detracted me from fully enjoying it was the author’s diplomatic way of presenting both sides of the argument. I know, it isn’t easy to decide who’s right, especially where people’s lives are at stake. But I’d still leave the decision in the hands of those doing the dying!The Gods Will Not Be Chained: ☆☆☆This story is part of a series placed within this anthology. All of the stories in that series examine the state of the world after human intelligence is uploaded onto a digital interface. Each bit helps us see more of the big picture after that event.In this one, a girl who’s being bullied begins chatting with someone who converses only in emojis.I liked this one because of how the author describes the father-daughter relationship. Guessing the identity of the emoji-user was a minor turn-off, though.Staying Behind: ☆☆Another post-singularity breadcrumb like the story before this one. It takes us to the stage where, except for a few pockets of people, most of the world has agreed to escape death by uploading themselves.Interesting to think that almost every religion is based on the ephemeral nature of life and eternity of death. If we can change that, what happens to the concept of doing good, so you’d end up in the good place? And will there even be a need for good or bad in a world that exists only digitally?Real Artists: ☆☆☆This one looks at what art could come to mean in the future. Should “real” art be something that sells or something that dares to challenge perceptions? The story follows an aspiring filmmaker disillusioned when she discovers that reality.I liked this short because of how easily it can become a reality. After all, networks have been known to cancel amazing shows like Brooklyn 99 because of the small size of viewership. Makes no sense to me but it is what it is!The Gods Will Not Be Slain: ☆☆Maybe the series of shorts based in this world should have been grouped together in the anthology? Anyway, this one shows cyber-intelligence giants — or gods — fighting each other. Some of them are mad at how they were created and they’re taking it out on the world.I liked the cute beginning that showed us more of that father-daughter time. But then things got dark. The cliffhanger didn’t make sense at all.Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer: ☆☆It was at this point that I tired of reading about the same thing from different angles. Something about however wonderful AI is, it can’t be as great as the real world.While the title of the story doesn’t indicate that it is part of the singularity series, I took it to be so. My justification: humans being able to reproduce in silico were the themes common between this story and the one before it.The Gods Have Not Died in Vain: ☆☆The mini-series came to an end with this story even though we find similar themes underlying other stories in this anthology. A girl who lost her father when he was uploaded to a digital interface and chose to give his life to keep intelligences like himself from ruining the world. Her posthuman sibling born in silico who has experienced everything and yet nothing. This story asks whether such a divide would bring people together or not.Like I said, I started to tire of this concept. So, the story didn’t seem as exciting to me as it could have.Memories of My Mother: ☆☆☆Imagine if patients with terminal diseases had the option to stay in stasis, just so they can watch their kids grow up or how their family members fare in the future. Would the relative in question resent their never-growing-old presence or feel blessed for these brief moments?I loved the lyrical way in which this story was written. It was also heartbreaking to read about all this from the daughter’s POV who couldn’t decide if she loved her mother breezing in at different times in her life or hated it!Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit– Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts: ☆☆☆☆Earth floods over. Most people leave off to colonize other planets. Those who remain, adapt. A hermit visits those settlements all around the world and writes about her experiences.A beautifully written story with breathtaking descriptions of such a post-apocalyptic world.Since corals play an important role in this story and mine, I’d like to shamelessly plug in an alternate view here.A sideline: the hermit continuously refers to them as settlements or colonies. The people of those “colonies” don’t like the description. Brings to mind all the displaced and refugees who cannot shake off similar descriptions even after several generations of theirs have called another country home.Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard: ☆☆☆☆Another post-apocalyptic world. The survivors adapt by evolving another bestial form. If that form is big and strong — and if they can pay their way– they may join the ranks of nobles. The rest of them live on the fringes. We follow a trio of women who fall in the latter group.I loved this one for several reasons. One, its plot deviated from all the AI and alien stuff. Two, it had the right quantity of scifi and UF. Three, the women didn’t choose to fight each other but came together to kick ass. Win-win!A Chase Beyond the Storms: ☆☆An excerpt from the third book in The Dandelion Dynasty Series. We meet a ship full of people who are trying to outrace their enemies and don’t have the resources to mount a direct full-scale attack.It lacked the smooth flow that the short stories are told in — one big reason why I fell in love with them. But since I haven’t yet the series, I can’t say more.The Hidden Girl: ☆☆☆☆The titular short about an old woman who steals girls and trains them to become assassins. The said assassins can move between dimensions and do all sorts of cool ninja stuff. But the last girl balks at murdering a target who seems like an honorable man to her.Very Raʾs al-Ghūl type of thinking from the old woman who has the girls kill just to add to the chaos of an already chaotic world — there’s the matter of money too, sure. But I loved the Kill Bill-esque descriptions and the poetic language.Seven Birthdays: ☆☆A mother who is often too busy, trying to save the world. A daughter who feels neglected as a child but understands her mother better when she grows up.Found the story confusing to follow, especially the events at the end.The Message: ☆☆☆Ancient civilizations leave behind messages. A man tries to preserve them before all evidences of it are erased to make way for a new colony/civilization. His daughter — whom he finds out about too late — joins him on one of these trips. Together, they decipher a cryptic message unable to overcome their curiosity.I liked it but found the ending depressing.Cutting: ☆☆☆A poem about a brotherhood of monks who cut parts out of a holy book to preserve it.I liked how the cutting was both a religious ritual and yet potentially completely changed the message of a sacred text. After all, that is what many of us do: follow the teachings that are in our favor and ignore the ones that aren’t. We may not physically cut them out but that is what our selectivity is doing. However, I’d have loved the poem more if I knew which book it was from.This is my first book from Netgalley and Ken Liu, and I’m so glad I requested it.
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  • Vivek Vikram Singh
    January 1, 1970
    I have always maintained that Science Fiction is best told in the form of either short stories or epic trilogies. The short story format allows the writer to strip away the need for building complex layers of reason through elaborate plot devices and set pieces. It allows the author the freedom to not have to weave multiple strands of ideologies, through a host of supporting characters, whose only roles are to throw the antagonists and protagonists in starker relief. The short story when done I have always maintained that Science Fiction is best told in the form of either short stories or epic trilogies. The short story format allows the writer to strip away the need for building complex layers of reason through elaborate plot devices and set pieces. It allows the author the freedom to not have to weave multiple strands of ideologies, through a host of supporting characters, whose only roles are to throw the antagonists and protagonists in starker relief. The short story when done well allows the reader to focus on the core idea; the conflict and/or balance between two opposing sides of the coin - be it the pros and cons of advancing surveillance technology; the ability to promote and destroy causes using the completely unleashed dogs of social media; the power-play between forces of empire versus those of empathy. Ken Liu does a phenomenal job in this collection of telling science fiction stories which serve a purpose; provoking thought which is contextual and already occupies our mind space. I have taken away one star because Ken does show his hand a little more than I feel he should. In my naïveté i always have preferred authors that resist the temptation to nudge the reader in one direction - show, don’t tell. However, all in all, a brilliant effort and one that should be read, and read slowly.Mild spoilers ahead:The first story “Ghost Days” is essentially an immigrant story, the skeletal pain of nowhereness; the incomprehensible shame of unbelongingness; the subcutaneous rage against perceived universal apathy. The story jumps across time to prove that the future is not an alien landscape, but merely “an accumulation bit by bit through recursion” of the past. The second story “Maxwell’s Demon” weaves fantasy, physics and science fiction into a simple but powerful story of a Japanese woman whose fate is toyed with and betrayed by war and empire - and above all by men. This is also a story of what injustices women, especially exceptional women, have endured, endure and regretfully, may continue to endure in the near future. The story is evocative of “hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet”, a novel that captures the story of Japanese Americans during World War Two quite wonderfully. Do read it if you can.The third story “The reborn” was one I didn’t really care for. Maybe the theme around the friability and fluctuant subjectivity of memory left me cold; or maybe the “altered carbon” style alien-race detective drama did not feel like a natural fit for Ken; or maybe it was just me, but this one felt well below par. The fourth story “thoughts and prayers” is my second favourite one in the collection. This could be a black mirror episode and just as easily be something that happens next year. I don’t think I can write more without giving the plot away - but have to say that this is the one story that leaves one feeling most hopeless about human society. “Byzantine Empathy” is the fifth and most original story in this collection. What would have started as a thought experiment on the nature of empathy, distributed computing, blockchain and the role of imperialistic imperatives in global charity, is fleshed out into a beautifully ambitious story; which still feels a little shallow as both the lead characters - the empathetic and rebellious Jianwen and the über rational and wily Susan, are not meaty enough for us to understand their motivations. We know nothing about them and hence they appear as VR holographs of two sides of this argument in Ken’s mind, and not actual plausible human beings.The sixth, seventh, ninth, tenth and eleventh are all parts of what I call the “Everlasting Gods” universe, an adept telling of the future of Homo Sapiens as uploaded consciousness, and are collectively my favourite story in this book. The disembodied “gods” created through the merger of powerful AIs with human consciousness can be the omniscient, omnipresent and omnivorous gods of mythology when it comes to knowledge - bound only be imagination. However they are not omnipotent - exactly like the old gods - precisely because their disembodied nature gives them an inward looking disposition. It does what good science fiction is supposed to do, give us food for thought. If this interests you, the “Three Body Problem” by Cixin Liu, an epic trilogy would be a highly recommended read.The eighth story “Real artists” seemed like a random dinner conversation that Ken had with a friend about how Pixar delivers so many hits with an extremely sophisticated formulaic approach; and then later that night, he decided to make that into a story. The twelfth story “memories of my mother” too suffers from that same shallowness with the central conceit being interstellar travel and different rates of the passage of time for the central characters.Now coming to the weakest stories in this collection - “dispatches from the cradle” and “grey rabbit”. I did not grasp the purpose nor comprehend the narrative style of both these stories. “A chase beyond the storms” is an excerpt from another novel from the Dandelion Dynasty trilogy and frankly should have been at the end of this book, as advertisements for other books by the same author typically are. On principle I did not read the story and skipped ahead.The sixteenth story “Hidden Girl” gives this collection its title, however seems thematically different from the rest of the collection, being set in a more “crouching tiger hidden dragon” world of gracious assassins swirling through the air and sometimes through extra dimensional space. The use of Buddhist lore, especially the “Maya” or illusion of space time makes the story richer with context, and I liked it. “Seven Birthdays” is next with an extremely meta narrative nestled just like the matryoshka dolls used by Ken’s lead character. The seventeenth story “the message” has a clever center but seems rushed, incomplete. Despite being a sucker for father daughter stories, I couldn’t get myself to relate to the characters who once again seemed lazily etched. The last story is a poem, once again about remembrance. Frankly if Ken had cut the last two stories as well as the two before “hidden girl”, the collection would have been much richer. So a 3.5 star book which is being rounded up to 4.
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  • Megan ( Tome Infinity )
    January 1, 1970
    I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher Saga Press for allowing me to receive this E-ARC in exchange for an honest review! The Hidden Girl and Other Storiesby Ken LiuThis is like most short stories collections in the way that I really loved some and others were just good or ok, I think it is nearly impossible to find a collection that is 100% stories you absolutely love and connect with.That being said I need thoroughly enjoy a lot of the stories that this included, I thought there I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher Saga Press for allowing me to receive this E-ARC in exchange for an honest review! The Hidden Girl and Other Storiesby Ken LiuThis is like most short stories collections in the way that I really loved some and others were just good or ok, I think it is nearly impossible to find a collection that is 100% stories you absolutely love and connect with.That being said I need thoroughly enjoy a lot of the stories that this included, I thought there were great world-building and characters, with thought put into the messages that each story conveys, it was highly enjoyable and the writing.The highlight of The Hidden Girl and Other Stories was without a doubt the originality and the depths of the worlds and ideas that Liu created on the page.4 Stars / A-
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    **First Reads Giveaway**13 March, 2020 Full review to follow. What a great collection of stories. I need some time to digest it.15 March, 2020 Update - Ken Liu's stories have stuck with me for several days after finishing the whole collection. That, I can tell you is no mean feat, as I, like many of us these days, am a voracious consumer of media of all types. That said, Liu's themes have become part of my mental response to the news of today. Many of the stories touch on the anxieties we (or at **First Reads Giveaway**13 March, 2020 Full review to follow. What a great collection of stories. I need some time to digest it.15 March, 2020 Update - Ken Liu's stories have stuck with me for several days after finishing the whole collection. That, I can tell you is no mean feat, as I, like many of us these days, am a voracious consumer of media of all types. That said, Liu's themes have become part of my mental response to the news of today. Many of the stories touch on the anxieties we (or at least I) feel as we deal with the 24-hour news cycle of injustice, economic disparity, technological hope, global interconnectedness, societal division, etc. Yet each story feels personal and accessible.In his preface, Liu discusses how he writes so that each reader can engage his stories through their own experiences ("baggage" as he and my High School Creative Writing teacher call it). I found that every story in this book did exactly that, especially, as he says, "My editor, Joe Monti, ... managed to weave the result into a table of contents that told a meta-narrative..."This "meta-narrative" is most clear through the center of the book, reading like a POV-and-Time-shifting novel. Brilliant.Then, just as I was getting used to the interconnected nature of each subsequent story, Liu and Monti effectively yank the reader into what seems to be another realm with my favorite story, "Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard." I was intensely gripped by this tale of fantasy and daring-do. While it is tangentially connected to the previous stories, it stands alone and left me wanting more about Ava, Pinion and Fey.I had previously read "The Gods..." stories in the Apocalypse Triptych ('The End is Nigh', 'The End is Now', and 'The End has Come'), edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey. I had also read "The Hidden Girl" on Lightspeed.com. Despite that, All four titles remain fresh and even more interesting when woven into the other stories.I should note that I skipped "A Chase Beyond the Storms", an excerpt from 'The Veiled Throne, Thee Dandelion Dynasty' book three. I've read the first book in the series and did not want to pick up any possible spoilers.I have purposely refrained (mostly) from discussing each short story so you can bring your own baggage to bear without hearing mine in the background.I cannot recommend this collection enough. Please read it. Can't wait to start 'The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories'.
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  • Jane Hunt
    January 1, 1970
    Science-fiction and fantasy are not my favourite genres. Science-fiction is often too abstract and difficult for me to engage with. Fantasy, such a personal concept. If you dont appreciate, what the author is trying to convey, its hard to enjoy.Despite, this I was asked to review this book. I enjoy reading short stories, and I am always willing to read the work of authors I am unfamiliar with, so I agreed. I didnt read this book cover to cover, its a book that you can dip into when youre looking Science-fiction and fantasy are not my favourite genres. Science-fiction is often too abstract and difficult for me to engage with. Fantasy, such a personal concept. If you don’t appreciate, what the author is trying to convey, it’s hard to enjoy.Despite, this I was asked to review this book. I enjoy reading short stories, and I am always willing to read the work of authors I am unfamiliar with, so I agreed. I didn’t read this book cover to cover, it’s a book that you can dip into when you’re looking for something different to read.Not surprisingly, I find some of the concepts in the science-fiction stories challenging, but the underlying themes of the dangers technology present for humanity, as well as its benefits, is something I understand. The idea that if technological advance continues at the rate it grew in the late twentieth century, and this century, to date, humanity, as we know it, may be lost. Which is disturbing for anyone who values the diversity and fallibility of humans. Many of the stories are dark, they offer little hope, but when you look around the world you live in, you can see where the inspiration for these stories comes from.The fantasy stories, of which the title story is one, were easier for me to understand. They are strange and reminiscent of stories passed down through the generations in all cultures. I like these. The quality of the writing, the imagery and the detail are beautiful, as is the physical book and cover.This is a book that can be read many times, and the reader will see something in the text that they missed before. An interesting experience, that I will enjoy again. Recommended for lovers of fantasy and science fiction, and those, like me who like to read something original and challenging.I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
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  • Linda Hill
    January 1, 1970
    Although Im not providing a full review, I do want to say something here about the physical quality of The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. This is a beautifully presented book. The literal hidden girl on the cover image, the woven place marker, the pages of dots within the text that echo the cover all contribute to a feeling of mystery and luxuriousness. I loved the Preface, because Ken Liu articulates brilliantly my own long held view that a story is not a single entity provided by a writer, but Although I’m not providing a full review, I do want to say something here about the physical quality of The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. This is a beautifully presented book. The literal hidden girl on the cover image, the woven place marker, the pages of dots within the text that echo the cover all contribute to a feeling of mystery and luxuriousness. I loved the Preface, because Ken Liu articulates brilliantly my own long held view that a story is not a single entity provided by a writer, but rather a vehicle for readers to apply their own experiences and tenets, making for a different reading experience for every reader. I loved the way too, that the dots on the cover and within the book seemed to echo thought bubbles, and conceptual explorations of the kind that swirl through the pages.This mini-review comes with the caveat that I haven’t read all the stories in The Hidden Girl. That said, those I have read I have found skilfully written and thoroughly engaging. Ken Liu writes with an incisive insight into the human condition so that although these stories might be dystopian or futuristic, at their heart is what it is to be human, to need connection and to feel emotion.Although there is an excellent balance between first and third person narratives, it was the first person stories I read that I enjoyed the most. Stories like The Reborn and Thoughts and Prayers have an intimacy as if the writer is actually speaking directly to the reader so that they almost become part of the narrative too. That said, the third person, final and briefest story, Cutting, I thought was sheer perfection. In less than three pages Ken Liu makes the reader contemplate memory and identity, completely inverting how we believe one creates the other, in a way I found incredibly moving. As text is cut, the structure on the page is altered until it becomes almost poetry. Cutting also brings into question religious texts and beliefs so that the reader understands how layers of time and interpretation affect truth and tenet. I thought this was very powerfulKen Liu’s The Hidden Girl is political, philosophical and existential in ways that make the reader think, at the same time as entertaining them through vivid and intoxicating writing. I really recommend it. Although this is a genre I’d normally avoid, I’m so glad to have a copy of The Hidden Girl and am off to read the rest of the stories.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded up to 4.Having recently finished Ken Lius masterful short story collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, I jumped at the opportunity to get an advance copy of his newest short story collection from NetGalley. I tried to manage my expectations, knowing it would be difficult for any author to maintain such a high level of exceptional speculative fiction story telling. Yet, I still couldnt help feeling a little let down with The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. Though 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.Having recently finished Ken Liu’s masterful short story collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, I jumped at the opportunity to get an advance copy of his newest short story collection from NetGalley. I tried to manage my expectations, knowing it would be difficult for any author to maintain such a high level of exceptional speculative fiction story telling. Yet, I still couldn’t help feeling a little let down with The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. Though overall, I found it to be an enjoyable read. Just not transcendent like its predecessor was at times.The stories of Liu’s first collection are so diverse in the ideas and worlds they explore, and the writing is often so exquisite that it can only be termed literary. Though there are certainly traces of that in this new collection, I can’t say I experienced nearly as many “wow” moments. Whereas many stories in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories have stayed with me, I don’t know that too many in The Hidden Girl will. Some of the standout stories for me in The Hidden Girl collection include “Thoughts and Prayers,” which addresses the current epidemic of gun violence as it’s compounded by the violence inflicted on victims' families by social media trolls; the title story “The Hidden Girl,” a delightful fantasy set in Tang Dynasty China; and “Byzantine Empathy,” which explores the inevitable conflicts posed by using viral media to promote social and political causes.What’s different about this collection is that six of the stories, spread out across the 19 stories total, are set within the same world. Three of these stories (whose titles begin with “The Gods …”) form a continuous narrative and create the premise for this world. And three other stories explore the same world from other perspectives and time frames. The underlying concept of these six stories is the possibilities posed by the ability to preserve human consciousness digitally in computer/cloud storage or as mechanical vehicles, an idea introduced in “The Waves” from Liu’s previous short story collection. Though I wouldn’t say any of these stories blew me away individually, I did enjoy this unique approach of riffing on a theme to paint a broader picture of a world-changing technology’s implications at multiple points in a short story collection (as opposed to releasing the stories as their own collection).Maybe in the days and weeks ahead, I’ll get a better sense of which stories “stayed with me” and thereby gain a greater appreciation for this collection. But for now, I would only recommend it with the understanding it’s good (at times very good) but not great.
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