There are so many layers of quiet genius in this collection it's hard to know where to begin.
At the prospect of tackling a collection of sci-fi short stories, I was worried I wouldn't enjoy abruptly shifting between different galaxies and timezones as I finished one story and began the next. But within a couple of lines of beginning a story I arrived into its world comfortably as if I had always known it.
There wasn't a single entry in this collection that didn't make me ponder on our endearing struggle against our own impernance, our will to survive and the secret hope we all harbour of something coming along to excuse us from our pre-booked date with death (despite the equally horrifying prospect of immortality, as one of the stories expertly illuminates).
The selection, ordering and translation work by Xueting Ni is nothing short of masterly. I highlighted so many beautifully-built passages that I often forgot I was reading translated work, making them even more delicious to consume when I did remind myself.
I have read comments by translators in the past about how difficult it is not to cave to temptation and edit while translating to the point of superimposing their own reimagining of the work. Yet each author's voice in Sinopticon was crystal clear, despite Ni being the sole translator of every single story.
Equally as much care and devotion has gone into the glossary-style notes and author backgrounds at the end of each story, varnishing each masterpiece and making its colours and forms even more vivid.
I especially loved that each author considers the globalising impact of technological advances yet retains, in varying strengths, an honouring of Chinese tradition in the fabric of their stories.
Sinopticon is my happy introduction to 科幻 (Kehuan) and Xueting Ni takes clear pride in opening that door and warmly inviting you in. It touched my heart and I greatly look forward to reading more.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Solaris and Xueting Ni for an ARC of this work.
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