THE PAPER MENAGE RIE
Folding Tigers, Hidden Foxes
released 10 March 450 pages | Hardback/ ebook
Author Ken Liu
Publisher Head Of Zeus
It’s perhaps unfair to introduce a novelist and short story writer via his work as a translator, but thus far many will know the name of Ken Liu via his association with Hugo- winning Chinese writer Liu Cixin. However, this is beginning to change: Liu’s fantasy novel The Grace Of Kings was name- checked by, among others, Hugh Howey.
Now we have this selection of 15 short stories selected by the writer himself, and named after a Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award- winning tale of eldritch origami practice. They’re stories that represent, according to the preface, “a good, representative sample of interests, obsessions, and creative goals”. At the broadest level, they fit into two types ( although there’s much overlap): more experimental short fiction that’s lyrical and, if you were being critical, tends towards whimsy; and more plot- driven and direct stories.
The former may sometimes test your patience. The first entry in the collection, “The Bookmaking Habits Of Select Species”, for example, is a riff on the notion that “everyone makes books” – and by “everyone”, Liu means different species. It’s a neat idea, but you may find yourself wondering if Liu has typed up some notes he’d made for an as yet unwritten novel.
Liu’s far better when he grapples with plot and genre. “The Regular”, for instance, is a cyberpunk- tinged noir about a gumshoe detective investigating the murder of a sex worker. “Good Hunting”, meanwhile, draws on the Chinese mythology around fox spirits to explore how technological change affects societies.
In terms of themes, colonialism, politics, the power of the written word and family recur, while many of the stories appear to draw on cutting- edge research. Despite this thematic consistency, it’s an uneven collection – but when he’s good, Liu is very, very, very good indeed. Jonathan Wright
Should you fancy a taster of Liu’s work, the awards- hoovering titular story can be read online here: http:// bit. ly/ papermen.