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To Hold Up the Sky (2020)

av Liu Cixin

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1213181,614 (3.81)3
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A few of the stories had something in them that touched me, but these are thinking men's stories mostly, working out huge ideas that to me just don't seem to be what matters. ( )
  quondame | Jan 21, 2021 |
Focusing on popular Chinese Mundane Fiction would be like advising people who wished to know about Portugal to read Raul Brandão, Alexandre Herculano or Fernando Namora. Acting as if an understanding of modern-day Portugal requires a reading of these (often turgid) ancient works smacks strongly of humbug, mystification, and orientalism.

The same happens with China. As interesting as the (inevitably capitalised) Great Classical Novels, and the writings of the various ancients might be to a scholar of ancient China, they are not of amazing utility to anyone trying to understand a country shaped far more by Mao and Deng than by Confucius. Much classic Chinese philosophy, religion, poetry and art is about absence, the protean void, silence, nothing from which something pregnant emerges. Almost all of these traits are present in this collection of Cixin’s short stories. A whole swathe of the modern Western SF tradition does not like this minimal absence, pregnant, silent, and the imagination implicit beyond words. But you’ll get that in spades by reading this collection.

At a deeper level there is something distinct about the Chinese character and outlook at a personal level. An emphasis on family and community (Confucian tradition) that owes nothing to Mao who if anything tried to atomise it in the name of a "new" collective of communism that tore many old bonds apart. That's all almost gone replaced by an older nationalism and again strong family and community bonds. Walking down the street you don't necessarily see it, nor necessarily in a business outfit except subservience to the boss, but get to know enough people an older China is still there.

After the disappointing and turgid “The Three-Body Problem”, it was with some trepidation, for me, that I started this new outing by Cixin, but I needn’t have feared. Much better fodder. In terms of understanding the country and getting a feel for things, if through a particular lens (but then that's true of all books!) then I really enjoyed “To Hold Up the Sky”. An evocative look at China through a SFional outsider-insider's eyes.

Outstanding stories: “The Contraction”, “Cloud of Poems”, “The Thinker” and “Ode to Joy”. ( )
  antao | Dec 17, 2020 |
While this collection is overall a bit optimistic for my taste, it is loaded with brilliant concepts. Each story has an idea at the core that made me take pause and contains some sense of the majesty and possibility of the universe.

INDIVIDUAL STORY RATINGS AND COMMENTS

The Village Teacher
4 stars
As we flash back and forth between an advanced alien species and a rural village school, a teacher is honored and a new concept of why Earth seems alone in the galaxy is introduced.

The Time Migration
3.5 stars
Desperate to escape an overpopulated Earth, immigrants flee towards the future in cryogenic rest.

2018-04-01
4 stars
A man longing for a technological enhancement only available to the wealthy has to decide how far he's willing to go and what he's willing to give up for it.

Fire in the Earth
3.5 stars
On his deathbed, Liu Xin's father asked only one thing of him, to never go down into the pit. Twenty years later, Xin has returned home to prove his theories that coal mining need not be the dangerous work that killed his father so slowly and painfully.

Contraction
4 stars
At long last science has not only determined that the universe will start contracting, but one man has discovered precisely when.

Mirror
4 stars
In which the unintended consequences of technology are revealed.

Ode to Joy: An Alternate History of the Sophon
4 stars
As the UN gathers for its final session, a concert takes an unexpected turn.

Full-Spectrum Barrage Jamming
1 star
Much too much in the way of military tactics and strategy to hold my interest.

Sea of Dreams
4 stars
Earth's first contact with an advanced alien artist has consequences that forever reshape the planet.

Cloud of Poems
4 stars
A technologically-driven but artless alien embraces classic Chinese poetry and upends three societies in the process.

The Thinker
4.5 stars
A brain surgeon's chance encounter with an astronomer leads to a wondrous discovery. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Oct 18, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Liu CixinFörfattareprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Chu, JohnÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Lanphier, AdamÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Martinsen, JoelÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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