Below are three works of speculative fiction in translation that I’m looking forward to in the coming months. The first two are updated editions of classics, while the third is the final installment in the Three-Body Trilogy. *rubs hands in anticipation*
When a traveler from China crash-lands on Mars, he finds himself in a country inhabited entirely by Cat People. Befriended by a local cat-man, he becomes acquainted in all aspects of cat-life: he learns to speak Felinese, masters cat-poetry, and appreciates the narcotic effects of the reverie leaf—their food staple. But curiosity turns to despair when he ventures further into the heart of the country and the culture, and realizes that he is witnessing the bleak decline of a civilization.
WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR: Cats on Mars? SIGN ME UP.
With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China’s most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Three-Body was released to great acclaim including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It was also named a finalist for the Nebula Award, making it the first translated novel to be nominated for a major SF award since Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities in 1976.
Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death’s End. Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.
Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?
WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR: The first two books in this series were phenomenal. I can’t WAIT to see how Cixin Liu wraps everything up.
After dropping anchor for the night near a small island to the south of Japan, a crew of fishermen awaken to find that the island has vanished without a trace. An investigating scientist theorizes that the tiny island has succumbed to the same force that divided the Japanese archipelago from the mainland ― and that the disastrous shifting of a fault in the Japan Trench has placed the entire country in danger of being swallowed by the sea.
Based on rigorous scientific speculation, Japan Sinks recounts a completely credible series of geological events. The story unfolds from multiple points of view, offering fascinating perspectives on the catastrophe’s political, social, and psychological effects. Winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award and the Seiun Award, this prescient 1973 science-fiction novel foreshadowed the consequences of the 1995 Osaka-Kobe earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
WHY IT’S ON MY RADAR: originally published in 1973, Japan Sinks is coming out in an updated paperback edition.
Also on my radar: two speculative fiction in translation Kickstarters: