55327_girl-writing_md
This story is a Hugo finalist in the Best Novelette category. It was published in Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015.

Lao Dao lives in a Beijing that folds up every twenty-four hours and emerges on the other side of a plane. It’s divided into spaces called First, Second and Third, with the population of First at 5M, and Second and Third shared by 75M people. Lao Dao lives in Third Space and is a waste worker. He needs to pay for his daughter to attend kindergarten, so he takes on extra work smuggling messages between spaces. He hides in a trash chute while others retire to their cocoon beds to sleep through the Change, and finds many differences in the Spaces, especially in First where the people are very wealthy. Lao Dao runs into trouble with his first delivery, becoming embroiled in a love affair gone wrong.

Like Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem, this is another ad for China’s science education program. Not only is the folding city a brilliant image, but Hao Jingfang has supplied social commentary. She runs through an economic analysis of automated industry versus human workers which has led to creation of the Spaces. There’s also a sentimental element, as Lao Dao is doing all this for his baby daughter. Like The Three Body Problem, the translation is a bit stiff—I’m getting the idea that Chinese prose doesn’t translate well into English. Still, some of the imagery comes through, enough to show the quality of Hao’s work. Four stars.

Advertisements