Tag Archives: ken liu

Galactic Suburbia turns seven

In which we are seven years old! Get yourself some delicious cake and settle down to our International Women’s Day episode. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

What’s New on the Internet?

Post-mortem on the first Octavia Butler book club hosted by Twelfth Planet Press! We had such a great time talking about Wild Seed.

Next up: Fledgling on April 2 2017.

Aurealis Awards shortlist is out.

Locus Recommended Reading List


Alisa: Ken Liu; Women of Letters; The Arrival; Canberry; Courtney Milan – Trade Me & Hold Me.

Alex: Because You’ll Never Meet Me, and Nowhere Near You, Leah Thomas; more Bujold; Cooked (Netflix, 4 parts)

Tansy: Younger, Hidden Figures, shout out for Kickstarter campaign for new card game featuring the art of Tania Walker: The Lady & the Tiger.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


The Three-Body Problem

What on earth can I say? If I said “Liu Cixin is like a Chinese Greg Egan” that gives some idea of the complexity of the science… and I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Ken Liu to translate those sections.

UnknownThe focus of the novel is split over a few characters and periods:
Some of it is set in the Cultural Revolution of the 60s, and explores some of the consequences of this for academics in particular, via one woman and her family. I have taught this era (only once, but that’s better than naught), so I have no idea what the average reader would bring to this – and especially not what an average American reader would think. Ken Liu has done a good job of providing some footnotes with explanations, without (I thought) interrupting the flow of the narrative too much. A young woman, Ye, whose family was targeted ends up working at a mysterious scientific/military outpost…

Some is set in a ‘present’ that I don’t remember being identified, but is not one of William Gibson’s ‘tomorrows’ – it felt perfectly normal. Here, a scientist starts encountering weird things and gets drawn into an investigation that turns out to be even weirder than expected, and involves the whole world (there are scenes involving the Chinese military brass and NATO officers which had me shaking my head at the possible ramifications).

Some it is set in-game: the scientist, Wang, starts playing a game called Three-Body Problem – which it took me ages to realise is the conundrum of how to figure out the physics of three bodies interacting with each other gravitationally (it’s been a while since I thought physics, ok?). The game is connected to the investigation and also allows Liu to write THE most hilarious description of people physically being a computer ever, and this from someone whose knowledge of computational logic is non-existant (NAND and NOR gates? I admit my eyes glazed over somewhat…).

Some of it is set… elsewhere… not telling where.

I liked Ye a lot; the complexities of being first condemned, and then being considered useful but still politically unreliable, then rehabilitated into society – it’s done very nicely. I didn’t like Wang as much, which I think was mostly to do with his attitude towards his wife and son: basically he ignored them, and I found this quite unpleasant. Da Shi, a policeman involved in the investigation, is magnificent and is the character I would most like to see in a mini-series version of the book.

I had heard that some people thought there was a lot of emphasis on the Cultural Revolution, so I was surprised to find that for me, at least, it’s not actually a very big part of the story – page-wise anyway. It’s certainly of fundamental importance in Ye’s development, don’t get me wrong, but there’s definitely far more time spent in the present (and probably more time spent in-game by one of the characters, although I haven’t checked the page numbers to confirm that).

I am beyond impressed that this made it on to the Hugo ballot (yes yes after one of the Rabid nominees pulled out). I’m really glad it did, since it made me read it sooner than I otherwise would have. I really enjoyed it. There are some parts where, as with a Greg Egan novel, I skimmed over some science because I just can’t come at the physics anymore. But that wasn’t a problem with understanding the plot or the characters, and actually – especially considering this is a translation – much of the science-speak was quite accessible. (Ken Liu has an interesting discussion of the issues of translation at the end of the version I read, which was in the Hugo packet; it’s a very thoughtful essay about staying true to the vibe of the thing as well as/instead of staying true to the actual words and phrases used.) I discovered only when I got to the end that this is the first in a trilogy… I believe I may well be reading the rest.

But who am I going to put first on my Hugo ballot?!?

Galactic Suburbia: Teen Feminism edition

In which Tansy, Alisa & Alex take on Feminism 101 with a recs list of teen-friendly resources. Get us at iTunes or Galactic Suburbia.

Long-time listener and frequent commenter Scott emailed us to say : “My 16 year old daughter has been have issues with boys belittling her views at school class and not being supported by close minded teachers. One of the boys asked if she was a feminist. She said she looked it up on the internet and wasn’t sure it was very positive. I’ve told her it can be a positive term depending on how it’s used. Could you point me to a book or two that I could give her that could help break down feminism and put it in a positive light?”

And so, Lily, here are our thoughts…

Feminist Teacher – http://feministteacher.com/
with special note of this vid made by teen boys after taking a high school class on feminism – https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=319&v=9Vh60p4p2QM

Anita Sarkeesian: How to Be A Feminist http://feministfrequency.com/2015/03/24/how-to-be-a-feminist-panel-at-all-about-women/

Mindy Nettifee – For Young Women Who Don’t Consider Themselves Feminists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-aD9WrfWTM

Laci Green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwJRFClybmk (also recced by Renay on Twitter)

Kitty Flanagan – woman against women against feminism

Stuff your Mom Never Told You: How To Talk To Friends About Feminism

Emma Watson’s UN speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk

We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc&feature=youtu.be c/Tehani

The F-Bomb http://thefbomb.org/

Jessica Valenti: Full Frontal Feminism (2008), He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know (2009)

Amy Poehler – smart girls in the room https://www.youtube.com/user/smartgirls
Vid with a 7 year old explaining feminism & generally celebrating issues to do with being female. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJqTAVJB_x8

Herself – http://herself.com/about/ [NSFW]

Mark Ruffalo on Facebook

Mary Sue’s film recs for growing feminists: http://www.themarysue.com/six-films-growing-feminist/

Listener Recs:
Girls Against Girls by @bonniegrrl c/ Booksandsundry via Twitter
@_TYFA: Twitter Youth Feminist Army c/ Cheryl Morgan
AmeliaBloomer.com Recommended feminist lit for Birth to 18yrs c/ Melina D via Twitter
teenfeminist.com c/ Melina D via Twitter
@SamMaggs’ FANGIRLS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is beyond brilliant. c/ Deb Stanish

From Cheryl:
Awesome though Ruffalo is, he was just quoting someone in that rant. Here’s the original:

Also my awesome pals in Bristol who are doing great things on the menstrual health front.

Recently found:

Rookie Magazine – aimed at teenaged girls – kinda seems like the teen girl version of a weekend magazine.

Culture Consumed:

Alisa: Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, Ann and Jeff Vandermeer; The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu;
Tansy: Mad Max: Fury Road, Captain Marvel 2: Stay Fly, Kelly Sue Deconnick; Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear
Alex: Mad Max: Fury Road (NB Feminist Mad Max); Guns of the Dawn, Adrian Tchaikovsky; Girl Genius vol 1-13; Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson

Letters to Tiptree submissions by June 8: http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/submissions

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Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Uncanny #1

Uncanny_Issue1_FINAL_large1-340x510Space unicorns, they did it! Uncanny was Kickstarted earlier this year.

The opening story is by Maria Dahvana Headley – “If You were a Tiger, I’d have to Wear White” – and I thought it was weird and clever and, indeed, uncanny while reading it and then I discovered just how much of it is true. It’s a reporter going to Jungleland (real) to interview the MGM lion (who really lived there, but probably not in a smoking jacket) and who ends up talking to Mabel Stark, the tiger tamer (real). Love and loss and memory; commercialism, culture and the crass.

Ken Liu’s “Presence” is sad and sweet and uncomfortable-making. One of those lovely sf pieces that brings together awesome tech with very real human stories.

“Late Nights at the Cape and Cane,” from Max Gladstone, isn’t really my thing. Nor was “Celia and the Conservation of Entropy” by Amelia Beamer.

Kat Howard’s “Migration” takes a quirky look at the idea of death and rebirth, while Christopher Barzak takes a Peter Pan story I had never heard of and updates it somewhat in “The Boy Who Grew Up.” And the fiction is rounded out by a reprint of a Jay Lake story, “Her Fingers like Whips, her Eyes like Razors” which also does interesting things with death – this time, challenging it, which I can’t help but imagine was inspired by Lake’s own cancer.

There are three poems included – from Neil Gaiman, Amal El-Mohtar, and Sonya Taaffe. I am not a connoisseur of poetry.

Then there’s the non-fiction. I have to say that my one disappointment with this first issue of the magazine is that there wasn’t more non-fiction, which I thought was going to be a bit of a Thing. Anyway, Sarah Kuhn talks by way of cosplaying as Sailor Mars about the reception of geeky women in fan spaces over the last few years, which felt like a round-up of some of the issues for people who haven’t been following it all closely. I did enjoy the discussion of becoming more and more involved in the Sailor fandom. Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Does Sex mark Science Fiction ‘Soft’?” never answers its own question but does discuss the ways in which some in the sf scene have tried to banish stories with Too Much Sex/Kissing/Whatever out of sf… although they wouldn’t be accepted by romance immediately anyway. And Christopher J Garcia’s “The Ten Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Shorts on the Web” is a really great sort of article to include in a magazine like this and indeed makes its online nature an absolute positive. So too does the fact that the interview with Headley (there are interviews with Barzak and about Lake too) contains links to pictures of Stark. Overall this is a positive start to the magazine and I look forward to more.