China Mountain Zhang

China Mountain Zhang

Paperback - 1997
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Winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee.

With this groundbreaking novel, Maureen F. McHugh established herself as one of the decade's best science fiction writers. In its pages, we enter a postrevolution America, moving from the hyperurbanized eastern seaboard to the Arctic bleakness of Baffin Island; from the new Imperial City to an agricultural commune on Mars. The overlapping lives of cyberkite fliers, lonely colonists, illicit neural-pressball players, and organic engineers blend into a powerful, taut story of a young man's journey of discovery. This is a macroscopic world of microscopic intensity, one of the most brilliant visions of modern SF.

Publisher: New York : Orb, 1997, c1992.
Edition: 1st Orb ed.
ISBN: 9780312860981
Characteristics: 313 p. ; 21 cm.


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Oct 07, 2014

China Mountain Zhang is one of the most unusual science fiction books I've read in a while. There are no epic battles or time travel or bending of the rules of physics. If most science fiction feels like space opera, played out on a large stage, this books reads like a quaint period drama, small in scale, where the dramatic beats occur in tiny spaces—cramped apartments, dorm rooms, kitchens. By most measures, it isn't an exciting book; no one saves the world here and there are no edge-of-your-seat moments. And yet Maureen McHugh has created a fully realized world like no other. The world is eerily ordinary and real; the characters feel true and and solid. There is a line in the book that captures the storytelling: "We are small, governments are large, we survive in the cracks."

China Mountain Zhang is beautiful slice-of-life storytelling at its best. Even in such a speculative, futuristic world, people still get by and cope with everyday anxieties and issues (the Mars chapters are particularly well done). It's a world that looks a lot like our own. I was really surprised to discover that the novel was first published in 1992. A sleeper hit that is now a classic I hope.


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