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On My Radar: 2016 SFF in Translation (Victor Pelevin, Agustín de Rojas, Yoss, Miyuki Miyabe, More)

It’s time for a roundup of some drool-worthy speculative fiction in translation coming out this year! I know you’ve been looking forward to the third and final book in Cixin Liu’s Three-Body trilogy, but man oh man that’s just the beginning…


Empire V by Victor Pelevin, translated by Anthony Phillips
(Gollancz | February 18 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


Roman thought he’d found the perfect opportunity to rebel. He may have been wrong.

He awakens strapped to a set of parallel bars in a richly appointed sitting room, and begins a conversation with a masked man which will change his life. His world has been a facade – one which the mysterious Brahma is about to tear away.

A stunning novel about the real world, and about the hidden channels of power behind the scenes, EMPIRE V is a post-modern satirical novel exploring the cults and corruption of politics, banking and power. And not only are these cults difficult to join – it turns out they may be impossible to leave . . .



Super Extra Grande by Yoss, translated by David Frye
(Restless Books | June 7 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


Set in a distant future, after the invention of faster-than-light space travel has propelled a still-immature mankind into the far corners of the Milky Way, the novel features creatures of immense variety—amoebas that cover entire worlds, sensual females that feed on substances from their males’ reproductive systems, talking reptiles, and other creations drawn from the classics of Cuban and international science fiction—all of which serve as colleagues, fellow adventurers, sex partners, teachers, or members of the military high command in the Galactic Community governing this part of the universe. Our protagonist, Jan Amos Sangan Dongo, has a special role in this otherworldly menagerie: He is a veterinarian who specializes in treating enormous animals across the galaxy. When a colonial conflict threatens the fragile peace between the Galaxy’s seven intelligent species, Dr. Sangan must embark on a daring mission to enter a gigantic creature and find two swallowed ambassadors—who also happen to be his competing love interests.

Coupling his own extensive studies in (earthly) biology with his vast curiosity and wild imagination, Yoss brings us a rare specimen in the richly parodic tradition of Cuban science fiction.



The Doomed City by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, translated by Andrew Bromfield
(Chicago Review Press | July 1 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


Arkady and Boris Strugatsky were the greatest of Russian science fiction masters, and their most famous work, Roadside Picnic, has enjoyed great popularity worldwide. Yet the novel they worked hardest on, that was their own favorite, and that readers worldwide have acclaimed as their magnum opus, has never before been published in English. The Doomed City was so politically risky that the Strugatsky brothers kept its existence a complete secret even from their closest friends for sixteen years after its completion in 1972. It was only published in Russia during perestroika in the late 1980s, the last of their works to see publication. It now finally appears in English in a major new translation.

The Doomed City is set in an experimental city whose sun gets switched on in the morning and switched off at night, bordered by an abyss on one side and an impossibly high wall on the other. Its sole inhabitants are people who were plucked from twentieth-century history at various times and places and left to govern themselves under increasingly nightmarish conditions.




The Year 200 by Agustín de Rojas, translated by Nicholas Caistor
(Restless Books | July 12 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


The peace of Tranquil Grove is violently disturbed when the Imperial Service’s Hydras awake from a two hundred-year sleep and implant the consciousnesses of a sadistic, lascivious torturer and a desperate aging secret agent into the minds of a film-obsessed boy and his mother, an “emotional engineer.” Drawing as much from the realms of the adventure novel, spy thriller, and political satire as from hard science fiction and fantasy, The Year 200 is on the one hand steeped in hard science and prophetic in its address of cryogenic freezing, artificial intelligence, and surveillance, and on the other full of the action and intrigue brought on by evil wizards, time travel, and killer robots.




The Gate of Sorrows by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Jim Hubbert
(Haikasoru | August 16 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


A series of murders shocks Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, but Shigenori, a retired police detective, is instead obsessed with a gargoyle that seems to move. College freshman Kotaro launches a web-based investigation of the killer, and comes to find that answers may lie within an abandoned building in the center of Japan’s busiest neighborhood, and beyond the gate of sorrows. In this New Adult sequel to Miyabe’s The Book of Heroes, you will meet monsters from other worlds and ordinary horrors that surpass even supernatural threats.




Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, translated by Andrew Bromfield
(Harper Paperbacks | August 30 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


The final chapter in Sergei Lukyanenko’s internationally bestselling Night Watch series—a revelatory urban fantasy set in contemporary Moscow.

They live among us. They fight among us. They’re the Others, a supernatural race of magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers. Divided into the Light and the Dark, these rival factions have spent a millennium under a reluctant truce. Now, however, both sides must unite against the ultimate enemy.

A Light magician and high-ranking member of the Night Watch, Anton Gorodetsky fears nothing. But lately the threats are mounting. A reincarnated vampire has been terrorizing Moscow. His daughter’s school is ambushed by a bizarre chimera. And the Prophets have all reached the same chilling conclusion: The world will end in five days’ time.

To ward off the apocalypse, an ancient council called the Sixth Watch must be assembled. After both Light and Darkness select their emissaries, Anton must enlist the unwilling aid of the four other Great Parties: the Vampires, the Witches, the Form-Takers, and the enigmatic Foundation. Journeying from Russia to Paris, the Alps, and New York City, Anton comes in peace—but he is prepared for war. For if he fails, none are safe.




Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
(Tor Books | August 30 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


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?




(Tor Books | November 1 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)


Readers at Tor and around the SF world have recently become familiar with Ken Liu and his Chinese translation work via the bestselling and award nominated novel The Three-Body Problem, by acclaimed Chinese author Cixin Liu. Readers who have developed a taste and excitement for Chinese SF by these means will be excited to hear that Ken Liu, the translator of that volume is assembling, translating, and editing an anthology of Chinese science fiction short stories.

The thirteen stories in this collection are a strong and diverse representation of Chinese science fiction, including two by Liu Cixin. Some have won awards in translation, some have garnered serioius critical acclaim, some have been selected for Year’s Best anthologies, and some are simply Ken Liu’s personal favorites.

To round out the collection, there are several essays from Chinese scholars and authors, plus an illuminating introduction by Ken Liu.



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