Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Infinite Planets

I've only just touched the tip of the Chinese Sci-Fi iceberg by reading Three Body Problem. So I picked up Infinite Planets, also translated by the same guy, Ken Liu.

Many of the stories were just too out there for me to fully enjoy. I'm not sure if this is what's meant by "wuxia", but some had a sort of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon feeling to them: extremely ephemeral, very unpredictable, hard to understand. I really enjoyed many of the stories, though. Here are my favorites:

The Fish of Lijiang: an endearing vignette of fast paced life placed on pause. Opposites attract in a science fiction cliche kind of way.

A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight: where does reality end and really good simulation begin? Emotionally driven, powerful storytelling. Interesting blend of Chinese folklore with speculative far future robotics/AI.

Night Journey of the Dragon Horse: Memorable sketch of a post apocalypse in which a sentient robotic dragon horse awakens from a long slumber.

"Time flows like a river, halting for no one. There is nothing in the world that can outlast time itself."

Folding Beijing: Great concept, compelling story. Interesting take on automation. Also, this served as my introduction to the cynical Philips Curve. If I was to be picky, the story felt a bit too directly critical of class divisions in modern China for my taste.

Taking Care of God: a parable for aging, intergenerational misunderstandings, but on a civilizational level. Memorable and bittersweet. Loved the special relativity explanation for the religious vs. scientific understanding of Earth's age. Has this been done before?