Questions of identity galvanize the 15 stories in this outstanding collection of fantastical fiction, giving them extraordinary gravity and resonance. In "Good Hunting," the human companion of a supernatural creature from Chinese folklore contrives an ingenious way to help her adapt to a steampunk future. The title tale (which swept the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards), in which a mother expresses love for her son through the magically animated origami animals she creates, is one of several in which the author uses Chinese-American experience to explore how all individuals assimilate into society. Whether writing about Asian culture and history, as in "The Literomancer" and "All the Flavors," or extraterrestrial civilizations, as in "The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" and "An Advanced Reader's Picture Book of Comparative Cognition," Liu (The Grace of Kings) universalizes the experiences of his characters, who realize at some point, as the protagonist of "Mono No Aware" does, that "we are defined by the places that we hold in the web of others' lives." Gracefully written and often profoundly moving, these stories are high-water marks of contemporary speculative fiction. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016 Release date: 11/03/2015 Genre: Fiction
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