book review: china mountain zhang

I think I learned about China Mountain Zhang (by Maureen F. McHugh) from Jo Walton’s Tor.com book reviews. I can’t remember what the review said, only that it sounded like something I would like. I finally got a copy last week, and man was that impression ever right.

The main story is about a gay construction worker named after Sun Yat-Sen (or in putonghua: Zhong Shan) in the future. This is a future where America had its proletariat revolution to try and follow China’s example after the early 21st Century Second Depression. Zhang’s story alternates with stories from other perspectives, including a goat farmer on Mars, a New York kite racer, and a girl with a rebuilt face. Zhang’s story takes him from Brooklyn to Baffin Island to Nanjing and back. There’s interconnection with the other perspectives but not so much it feels like a puzzlebox story. The whole book is the kind of thing science fiction should hope to be.

I had quibbles with the number of typos in the pinyin, but no qualms with the story. My favourite chapter was about the frustrations of Daoist Engineering. I’m sending a copy to Holly next week.

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