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Vagabonds av Jingfang Hao
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Vagabonds (urspr publ 2016; utgåvan 2020)

av Jingfang Hao (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
998209,771 (3.5)5
"A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of kids are sent to Earth as delegates from Mars, but when they return home, they are caught between the two worlds, unable to reconcile the beauty and culture of Mars with their experiences on Earth in this spellbinding novel from Hugo Award-winning author Hao Jingfang. This genre-bending novel is set on Earth in the wake of a second civil war...not between two factions in one nation, but two factions in one solar system: Mars and Earth. In an attempt to repair increasing tensions, the colonies of Mars send a group of young people to live on Earth to help reconcile humanity. But the group finds itself with no real home, no friends, and fractured allegiances as they struggle to find a sense of community and identity, trapped between two worlds. Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Naomi Alderman's The Power will fall in love with this novel about lost innocence, an uncertain future, and never feeling at home, no matter where you are in the universe. Translated by Ken Liu, bestselling author of The Paper Menagerie and translator of Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, Vagabonds is the first novel from Hao Jingfang, the first Chinese woman to ever win the esteemed Hugo Award"--… (mer)
Medlem:chukrum47
Titel:Vagabonds
Författare:Jingfang Hao (Författare)
Info:Gallery / Saga Press (2020), 608 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Vagabonds av Jingfang Hao (2016)

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I came to this book knowing that it was highly touted as a potential nominee for a Hugo, so while I wouldn't say that I was daring Hao to impress me, I did have expectations. Were those expectations met? To a large degree, yes. Had I known that Hao had an advanced level of training and was a practitioner of social policy, that would have been a useful thing to know beforehand, as this book is very much an example of the case where the characters do embody arguments of how one should live one's life, and while I wouldn't say that this then reduces these characters to cardboard, or that this work is didactic, it does mute the tones of personality. As has been noted, much of the story boils down to the character of the Martian girl Luoying, who is trying to understand how her world is as it is, after having received a social education on Earth. This is not a book that is trying to knock you over, but I'd argue that it is worth the investment of time. Recommended for fans of Kim Stanley Robinson. I would also not be surprised to see it wind up on the Hugo short list for best novel; though I think that will be very competitive for 2021. ( )
  Shrike58 | Mar 6, 2021 |
“To be interesting, rely on your head; to be faithful, rely on your heart and eyes.”



In “Vagabonds” by Hao Jingfang



Prior to “Vagabonds” I read Liu’s translation of Chinese SF: “Invisible Planets - Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction”; my favourite story was Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing”. I was eagerly anticipating Jingfang’s first novel in English (also translated by Liu).

From a point of view of a normal SF consumer, I think there is a growing resistance to any novel in the English language, which does not follow a linear narrative or even simply has what the reader deems to be 'gaps' or using a sort of dreamlike narrative. There is a clear demand for every last element of the story to be written out and even minor character to have their lives resolved (I just finished the fourth volume of the Expanse Series and I couldn’t have found a better counterpoint). In Western SF No-one is allowed to 'ride into the sunset' without the author saying what it was like when the character reached the next town and bedded down for the night and then what the rest of their life entailed. Western readers nowadays are becoming very narrow in what they will tolerate, anything diverging from that simple, often very comprehensive (to the point of tedium) approach is condemned as 'bizarre' or 'weak'.

There is now push-back against unreliable narrators too and people struggling to cope with substantial challenges, even more so in movies, but still also with novels. However, it seems a pity that unreliable narrators/struggling heroic characters of any gender are ruled out entirely and that what is articulated must be accurate, perhaps even omniscient. Maybe anyone who favours a more uncertain narrator or struggling heroic character is now perceived to not want a 'proper' book or to want the silencing of certain groups in our society, rather than perhaps a more intellectually challenging/stimulating approach to writing.

Jingfang’s novel has its core the fact that trying to make things better and utopias are not the same thing. The one essential ingredient that most utopian ideas overlook is change. The universe, planets and life are all dynamic. Never static. And change can be unpredictable. Utopias will almost always find themselves contradicted or in conflict with some aspects of that change. In attempting to deal with it they become inflexible and despotic. That inflexibility (of utopian planning, generally) is a fair call, but Newman, but I should argue explicitly for the more limited utopianism of 'making things better', rather than the more authoritarian-tending fix-everything-in-one-swoop-with-one-rigid-blueprint utopianism that Western SF readers see in much real-world utopianism (or fake-utopianism, cf. Stalin, and Mao).

Of course, isn't the whole point of Utopia that it isn't actually possible? Yes, we can (and should) strive towards such a thing, but it's no more likely to be achieved than is a perpetual motion machine. It's a fantasy. Dystopian fiction shows us the myriad ways in which a search for Utopia might fail. I'd take strong issue with the writer's proposal that Gilead is a Christian utopia; it's very precisely a Christian dystopia. The problem is that stories like Jingfang’s want to have a point, and that often means showing that working towards utopia ironically leads to things being massively worse off for others - so whether intentionally or not, you end up with a parable about how you should just accept things as they are because you'll only screw them up. It's interesting to compare this novel to TV shows like Star Trek, or Iain M Banks' Culture novels, where the utopian society is already established and just forms the background to other stories. This is really just an extension of the "be careful what you wish for" trope in old folk tales. A couple gets three wishes: one of them uses the first one selfishly; the other uses the second one to attack them out of spite; and they end up using the third to put everything back to normal.

I am glad to see that some publishers (I must check who published “Vagabonds”) are at least still trying to highlight, even laud, different narrative approaches in the face of so much popular hostility to them, so much more vocal in these days of online ratings and customer feedback. ( )
  antao | Aug 20, 2020 |
Vagabonds is a Chinese sci-fi novel by Hao Jingfang and translated by Ken Liu. At 640 pages, this is one of the longer books I’ve read and quite a time sink. I can readily recommend this title to fans of more literary sci-fi and serious, sophisticated prose that has the characters examining the world around them in introspective ways. A lot of effort is put toward world-building right down to the nitty-gritty details of technology, political systems, and the culture of not only Earth in 2096 but also a highly developed Mars. The two are at odds, with a history of war and existing tensions.

The story follows multiple young people who have traveled between the planets and can be considered vagabonds- adrift between two worlds, experiencing complex feelings for both and belonging to neither. Just wandering in a strange space between. During its most shining moments of prose, Vagabonds does well in capturing that sort of journey.

The main character of focus is Luo Ying, a young dancer whose grandfather presides over Mars. Her parents died under mysterious circumstances. Across the span of her journey she seeks to find out more about them and also process her thoughts on Mars versus Earth. Is Mars really headed in an ideal direction, or are the differing ideals she observed on Earth more likely to lead to justice and freedom? Black and white thinking is not abound in Vagabonds, both worlds are gradually revealed and treated with a nuance view. I was impressed by the combination of imaginative technologies and allegorical modern issues which could convincingly persist so many years in the future.

But there were many rambling chapters with intensive world building that was more demanding and info-dumpy than immersive. This is a quiet, elegantly-written book that consistently ponders instead of taking action. The plot moves slowly and while most questions are answered by the end, it did seem like little was accomplished after such a massive page count.

I also found the characters lacking in appeal, flavor, or well-rounded development. This could have to do with the future being so sleek and controlled, but very few of the individuals portrayed here left much of a mark. They all sound a bit similar in voice and style, reminiscent of my issues with the characters of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. As a side note, if you read and greatly enjoyed that book you may want to give Vagabonds a try as it has some tonal similarities.

A note about the translation. I’ve read many translations, ones that seemed good and ones that seemed bad. This translation strikes me as noteworthy in its depth and clarity. Word choices seem carefully handled and well fitting to the literary weight of this work.

In closing, Vagabonds is worth checking out if you enjoy more mature and thought-provoking sci-fi with an emphasis on world building. The political and social tensions conveyed make an interesting contrast to present-day realities.

But a thrilling timeline, eventful plotting, and deep character development take a backseat by comparison. I found this book as a whole to be too lacking in those areas and less impactful as a result.

Note : I received an ARC of this book for review. ( )
  kittymariereads | Jun 14, 2020 |
Thank you to Netgalley and Lauren Jackson at Saga Press for my free ARC .

"Sometimes the fight over the treasure is more important than the treasure itself." Remember this line. It is taken from the first few page of Vagabonds and to this reader seems to be the entire theme of the book. An interesting worldview that is set to challenge your own and after all that is the point of all great fiction of all great science fiction of great political science fiction and this is a masterful piece of literature and a bold take on science fiction that really is a work of political science fiction that in these times is much more interesting than straight sci-fi.

Vagabonds is set in a future where Mars has been colonized ans where Martians have revolted against Earth in a drawn out violent war. The two worlds exist in mutual conflict and distrust. Mars is a social oligarchy and Earth has itself as a whole turned into a ultra-capitalist planet. The themes coming from the point of view of Chinese novelist Hao Jingfang are immediately relatable and its easy to see where she is coming from. The inventiveness of it all and the familiarity of the story and the beautiful language put into place to tell this long and slow moving, slow moving in a great engaging way, tale.

Vagabonds takes a journey into identity and politics, and what it is to be an individual within society; within societies. Vagabonds questions what is society. Thankfully Jingfang does not give any answers into these explorations, but the questions are important ones, and the characters and plot drive the questions further and further directly from the first pages it does so from the perspectives of politicians, artists, and most importantly children who grow up in opposing communities and learn to deal with the internal conflicts raised by their experiences and by the adults around them; the previous generation and the previous generations generation.
In this lyrical tale of political science fiction Hao Jingfang has created a large cast of characters across worlds and across time. Vagabonds is thoughtful, reflective science fiction novel exploring these themes across deep(ish) time and deep space.

Jingfang's Vagabonds is not fast paced, but rather moves slowly, in a good way, to introduce the reader to different characters, getting to know the worlds they live in and the windows through which they view their lives, their opportunities and communities. Multiple viewpoints from different perspectives highlight the greys in their and our society, the ways in which nothing is ever so simple as right or wrong, and the ways in which sometimes things are not so different as they might at first appear. The cycle of history has a tendency to repeat itself, the question is how much is learnt.

This is science fiction as exploration of what home is of what culture is of what humanity is, of what society can become. As a US based reader was a pleasure to read a totally different perspective on science fiction and to my reading its political science fiction and appropriately so in my mind as its coming from a Chinese perspective. Vagabonds is dealing with a lot of ideas - about living, about love, about plans for the future, about revolutions, about what it means to be home, about what it means to be free, etc. It's not a particularly focused book on these ideas, but the questions it asks about each of them tends to be fascinating and thought provoking.

The basis for this exploration is its two different worlds, which each carry elements you can see in today's governments. The Earth in this book is ultra-capitalist, with everything being done for the sake of profit and nothing else, and where squabbling governments may still exist but are secondary in importance to the billionaires and corporations who have real power. Still, it's a world where everyone is certainly free to choose whatever life they wish to lead, to the extent they can stay out of poverty, and partying, rebelling, or altering the way one expresses themselves are an expected and ordinary part of life

It’s a journey into what it is to experience and explore where the boundaries lie in society. Its a novel you need to dig into because as the world is on lockdown and is sure to soon be out of lockdown the opinions and ideas that come out of isolation are the ones that can and will change what comes next. ( )
  modioperandi | May 18, 2020 |
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) is a recommended science fiction novel set on Mars which explores contrasting societal values between Earth and Mars.

A century after the Martian War of Independence, a group of teenagers who were born and raised on Mars are sent to Earth as delegates. Called the Mercury Group, when they return home with a delegation of Terran representatives, the group begins to feel separate from the rest of Martian society and caught between the societal differences of the two worlds. After spending five of their formative teenage years on earth, members of the Mercury Group now have a fractured sense of identity and question how they fit into their community and their roles.

It is clear that there are still tensions between the two different systems of Earth and Mars. The novel closely follows Luoying, one of the returning students who is a dancer. She explored many aspects of Earth's society when she visited and now struggles to rectify the rigidity of Martian society with the materialistic, individualistic society of Western civilization. Luoying is the granddaughter of Hans Sloan, the consul of Mars. After her return from Earth, she is questioning her grandfather's role in being chosen as one of the teens to visit, as well as his role in the death of her parents.

Vagabonds is beautifully written, poetic, thoughtful and contemplative. Certainly it is clear why Hao Jingfang is a Hugo Award–winning author. In many ways it could have been set on future Earth, comparing and contrasting two different societies, and is more of a veiled comparison of an evolved socialism versus Western capitalism. While it explores the difference, it doesn't openly berate one over the other. It is also coming-of-age novel. The most notable fact is, however, very slow-paced novel and how you have to make a monumental choice to keep reading. This would be highly recommended, but it moves way-too-slowly.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2020/04/vagabonds.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3282683466 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Apr 15, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Jingfang Haoprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Liu, KenÖversättarehuvudförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Chesanow, DavidCopyeditormedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Holmes, BenjaminProofreadermedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Milea, ChristopherProofreadermedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Su, AlexandreCopyeditormedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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"A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of kids are sent to Earth as delegates from Mars, but when they return home, they are caught between the two worlds, unable to reconcile the beauty and culture of Mars with their experiences on Earth in this spellbinding novel from Hugo Award-winning author Hao Jingfang. This genre-bending novel is set on Earth in the wake of a second civil war...not between two factions in one nation, but two factions in one solar system: Mars and Earth. In an attempt to repair increasing tensions, the colonies of Mars send a group of young people to live on Earth to help reconcile humanity. But the group finds itself with no real home, no friends, and fractured allegiances as they struggle to find a sense of community and identity, trapped between two worlds. Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Naomi Alderman's The Power will fall in love with this novel about lost innocence, an uncertain future, and never feeling at home, no matter where you are in the universe. Translated by Ken Liu, bestselling author of The Paper Menagerie and translator of Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, Vagabonds is the first novel from Hao Jingfang, the first Chinese woman to ever win the esteemed Hugo Award"--

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