Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan

Ken Liu (translator)",“Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, Ken Liu (translator)

I discovered Qiufan’s work in Ken Liu’s sci-fi anthology, Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation. I’ve been turned onto Chinese sci-fi ever since. I was enthralled by Liu Cixin’s ““Three Body Problem”” series. I devoured Liu’s 2nd Chinese sci-fi anthology too, Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation. I guess living in a repressive, authoritarian regime produces good sci-fi?

But I digress, this novel Waste Tide is a great novel. It’s about set in the not-too-distant-future where Silicon Isle (somewhere in China) is a e-waste hell hole. Migrant workers, ‘waste people’, move there to make their fortunes by sorting the e-waste. They eek out a living, quickly succumbing to illness and death, while the ‘clans’, comprised of locals, reap the vast rewards. The conflict in the novel is an American recycling company that is looking to help modernize the e-waste recycling program in Silicon Isle. This would upset the balance of power with the ‘clans’ of course. Mixed in there is a bit of mysticism/magic with VR headsets and some other things I won’t spoil for you.

I’m surprised the Chinese government hasn’t censored sci-fi like this. This book is a thinly veiled crack at China’s poor environmental track record (though it doesn’t leave the rest of the world unscathed), and its treatment of migrant workers. I suppose they are at tad busy suppressing freedom in Xinjiang and Hong Kong that they will let books like this slide for now.

If you like sci-fi and haven’t read any of the new Chinese translated sci-fi, you are really missing out. I would start with Ken Liu’s ““Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Series””. You may discover a few more favorite authors.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #89 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge #Books #BookReview #China #ChineseLit #SciFi #ChenQuifan #KenLiu”,

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