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A monthly multigenre fiction magazine. We have two goals: publishing great storytelling and fair pay for writers and artists.
A monthly multigenre fiction magazine. We have two goals: publishing great storytelling and fair pay for writers and artists.
729 backers pledged $26,050 to help bring this project to life.

Q&A with Year Two short story writer Ken Liu

Another good day yesterday! We've almost hit 27% funded!

Also, a reminder: I did an interview with Publishers Weekly Radio, which is airing during their show at 3 p.m. ET today on SiriusXM satellite radio Channel 80.

Here's our Q&A with Ken Liu, who is another Issue One alumnus. (He did a Q&A then too.)

Q&A with Ken Liu

Your story “The Paper Menagerie” swept the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards last year, the first-ever sweep of those awards. Did you know the story was something special when you finished it? 

The story did feel special to me -- as do all my stories :) I love every tale I write for a different reason.

I've been amazed and overwhelmed by reader response to "The Paper Menagerie." It's not something I ever anticipated.

Along with those awards, you've receive a lot of acclaim for your many short stories, particularly in the past year. Recently though, you said you wanted to shift gears and focus on longer work. Why is that, and is it a different experience?

I love short fiction, but the long form provides different challenges and rewards. I want to explore a world in more depth and try my hand at being a novelist.  

So far it has indeed been a very different experience. I find writing novels to be far more difficult. Things that come naturally to me in writing short fiction feel like a struggle in novels. I hope I improve over time.  

Do you have a project you are working on now that you can tell us about?  

My wife and I are collaborating on our first novel. Set on a fantasy archipelago inspired by East Asian elements, it's the story of two friends who become enemies in the war to bring down a tyrant. There are magical creatures, silkpunk airships, and lots of plot twists based on Chinese legends surrounding the founding of the Han Dynasty.  

I'm also translating a Chinese hard scifi novel, “The Three Body Problem,” by Liu Cixin, into English. The first in a trilogy, the novel tells the story of a top-secret Chinese military project during the Cold War to contact extraterrestrial civilizations and the resulting invasion of Earth by aliens. The books in the trilogy are the most popular science fiction novels in China, and I hope readers here enjoy them when they are published later in the year.

Your story for Fireside, “The Journal” is already in. Tell us something about it.

Unlike most of my work, I'd classify this one as either surreal or magic realist. I tend to write fantasy that uses the fantastical element as a metaphor, and this takes that tendency and follows it to its logical conclusion.

Tell us something about you that doesn't make it into your biography.

Following the advice of Gardner Dozois, I put a sock over the head of the bust of Lovecraft (my World Fantasy Award trophy) because he scared my three-year-old daughter. Now she thinks the sock-headed Lovecraft hilarious.

Ken Liu is an author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer. His fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places. He has won a Nebula, a Hugo, a World Fantasy Award, and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award, and been nominated for the Sturgeon and the Locus Awards. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts. You can find him online at and on Twitter @kyliu99.


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