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3.5 

Vagabonds

By Hao Jingfang & Ken Liu
Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang & Ken Liu digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

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 “thoughtful debut” (Kirkus Reviews) from Hugo Award–winning author Hao Jingfang.

This “masterful narrative” (Booklist, starred review) 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.

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13 Reviews

3.5
“The year is 2201. Just over a hundred years ago, the Martian colonies fought and won a war of independence against Earth, and since then, the two planets have diverged sociologically. In Hao's incisive and all-too-plausible extrapolation, Earth embodies the triumph of Western laissez-faire capitalism driven by the internet's savagely competitive social media. Mars, technologically much more advanced and apparently utopian—and here the author treads more cautiously—persuasively represents what benevolent Chinese communo-capitalism might possibly evolve into. Consequently, mutual suspicion and resentment bordering on outright hostility dominate the Earth-Mars relationship. Hmm, can't imagine why such a discussion might be relevant at the moment. Both worlds are gradually developed and treated with a nuanced view, though later chapters convey the more harrowing and concerning aspects. I was impressed by the combination of imaginative technologies and allegorical modern issues which could convincingly persist so many years in the future. The story follows multiple young people who have traveled between the planets and can be considered vagabonds- adrift between two worlds, holding complex feelings for both and allegiance to neither. Just wandering in a strange space between. During its most shining moments of prose, Vagabonds does well in capturing that unique 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. The story opens as like a flower with a satisfying resolution that keeps to the idea of neither choice be absolutely right or wrong but focused more on an understanding of how we can choose our roles.”

About Hao Jingfang

Hao Jingfang is a Chinese science fiction writer. She won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for Folding Beijing, translated by Ken Liu, marking the first Hugo awarded to a Chinese woman. Hao works as a macroeconomics researcher at China Development Research Foundation, a quango organization located in Beijing, China.

Ken Liu

Ken Liu is an award-winning American author of speculative fiction. His collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, has been published in more than a dozen languages. Liu’s other works include The Grace of KingsThe Wall of StormsThe Veiled Throne, and a second collection The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. He has been involved in multiple media adaptations of his work, including the short story “Good Hunting,” adapted as an episode in Netflix’s animated series Love, Death + Robots; and AMC’s Pantheon, adapted from an interconnected series of short stories. “The Hidden Girl,” “The Message,” and “The Oracle” have also been optioned for development. Liu previously worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. He frequently speaks at conferences and universities on topics including futurism, machine-augmented creativity, the history of technology, and the value of storytelling. Liu lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

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