I remember reading Ken Liu’s short story, “The Paper Menagerie,” a few years ago online. It is currently the only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. I remember being moved by the sadness in the narrative, touched by the love, and entertained by its magical realism. It was a delightfully beautiful story by Liu, but my journey of reading his works never went beyond that. That is not until recently when I read his short story collection, “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories.”
Liu brings out the best of his writing with thought-provoking, intricate fantasy and science fiction stories. Each one serves as a sort of a mini meditation on much larger themes, such as immortality, the power of storytelling, the evolution of technology, and more. He even makes use of taking historical events that are otherwise unknown, or at least not known well enough, and incorporates them into his stories, with lessons and afterthoughts to go around.
It’s also interesting to note the different forms each of his stories take. While there are some that are the general, third-person narration, there are also short stories that read in the form of documentaries, first-person reflections, and beautifully written textbooks. Each time you start a new story, a new experience unfolds. While some are little weaker than others, for the most part, the stories are strong in evoking a spirit that’s hard to come by in modern literature these days.
“The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories” is worth picking up in my not so humble opinion. Liu is a masterful storyteller that has captured my imagination in multitudes of ways. He is most definitely going to be one of those writers who will later become legends in their own rights.