Ken Liu

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Ken Liu
Portrait of Ken Liu by Lisa Tang Liu.
Portrait of Ken Liu by Lisa Tang Liu.
Born刘宇昆; Liú Yǔkūn
1976 (age 45–46)
Lanzhou, China
  • Author
  • translator
  • programmer
GenreScience fiction, fantasy
Notable works
Notable awards
SpouseLisa Tang Liu[1]
Website Edit this at Wikidata
Ken Liu
Traditional Chinese劉宇昆
Simplified Chinese刘宇昆

Ken Liu (born 1976) is a multiple Hugo Award-winning American author of science fiction and fantasy. His epic fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty, the first work in the "silkpunk" genre, is published by Simon & Schuster.[2] His short stories have appeared in F&SF, Asimov's, Analog, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and multiple "Year's Best" anthologies.[3]

Childhood and career[edit]

Liu was born in 1976 in Lanzhou, China.[4] He spent his childhood with his grandparents.[5] His mother, who received her Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, is a pharmaceutical chemist, while his father is a computer engineer.[6] The family immigrated to the United States when Liu was 11 years old.[4] They lived in California and Stonington, Connecticut before settling in Waterford, Connecticut. Liu graduated from Waterford High School in 1994, where he ran cross-country and track.[7] At Harvard College, he studied English Literature and Computer Science, receiving his A. B. in 1998.[7][8] After graduation, he worked as a software engineer for Microsoft, and then joined a start-up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He later received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2004 and after working as a corporate lawyer, eventually became a high-tech litigation consultant.[7][8] He began publishing fiction in 2002. His first published work was "Carthaginian Rose", a short story on mind uploading which was published alongside nine other authors in The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology Volume 1.[9]

Liu says he wanted to become a writer so he could make stories that “turn values upside down and inside out to gain new perspectives.”[10]

After a long career writing and publishing short fiction, Liu turned to epic fantasy novels, starting with The Grace of Kings in 2015.[11] He has also written for the Star Wars universe, with The Legends of Luke Skywalker in 2017.[12]

Along with his original work, Liu has translated the works of multiple Chinese authors into English, including Liu Cixin, Hao Jingfang, Chen Qiufan, and Xia Jia.[13] His translation of The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin helped the book become a best seller to English readers.[14] He also has worked on editing works. While editing the anthology Invisible Planets, Ken Liu translated the stories contained within it from Chinese into English.[15]

Some of Liu's work have been adapted into visual media. "Memories of My Mother," a short story, was the basis of "Beautiful Dreamer" by David Gaddie.[16] "Real Artists," a short story, was adapted into a short film by Cameo Wood.[17] "Good Hunting," a short story, was adapted into an animated short as part of Netflix's Love, Death & Robots series in 2019.

Liu's short story collection, “The Hidden Girl and Other Stories” published in 2020, explores ideas such as tradition and progress, the fallibility of memory, and the essence of what it means to be human.[10]

Liu now lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.[18]


Liu's short story "The Paper Menagerie" is the first work of fiction, of any length, to win all of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.[1] In addition, his short story, "Mono no aware" won the 2013 Hugo Award,[19][20] and his novella "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary" was also nominated for a Hugo.[21] The first novel in his The Dandelion Dynasty series, The Grace of Kings, was a 2016 Nebula Award finalist.[22] The novel was the 2016 Locus Award Best First Novel winner.[23]

Besides his original work, Liu's translation of Liu Cixin's Chinese language novel The Three-Body Problem (the first in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy) won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, making it the first translated novel to have won the award.[24] Liu also translated the third volume of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series, Death's End, in 2016, which was a 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel finalist.

One of Liu’s short stories, “Thoughts and Prayers,” is a part of Jonathan Strahan’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction (2020), Vol 1.


Nominated or finalist[edit]

Original works[edit]


The Dandelion Dynasty[edit]

  1. The Grace of Kings. Saga Press. 2015. ISBN 9781481424271.
  2. The Wall of Storms. Saga Press. 2016. ISBN 9781481424301.
  3. The Veiled Throne. Saga Press. 2021. ISBN 9781481424332.
  4. Speaking Bones. Saga Press. June 2022.[38][39]



Short stories[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
The waves 2012 Liu, Ken (December 2012). "The waves". Asimov's Science Fiction. 36 (12): 38–51. Novelette
The oracle 2013 Liu, Ken (Apr–May 2013). "The oracle". Asimov's Science Fiction. 37 (4&5): 144–152.
The plantimal 2014 Resnick, Mike & Ken Liu (March 2014). "The plantimal". Asimov's Science Fiction. 38 (3): 13–24.

"Thoughts and Prayers" (2019)[edit]

Other short stories[edit]

  • The Cleaners, December 15, 2020[40] is a magic realist story about cleansing memories.
  • "The Sith of Datawork", From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars), October 3, 2017
  • "The Long Haul: From the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009" (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, November 2014
  • "Presence" (online), Uncanny, November/December 2014
  • "Saboteur", Analog, December 2014
  • "The Regular", Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke, September 2014
  • "The Gods Will Not Be Slain", The End is Now (Book II of the Apocalypse Triptych), edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, September 2014
  • "Running Shoes" (online), SQ Mag, Issue 16, September 2014
  • "Homo Florensis", Solaris Rising 3, August 2014
  • "In the Loop", War Stories, edited by Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates, August 2014
  • "Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon" (online), Kaleidoscope, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, August 2014
  • (with Lisa Tang Liu) "Hark! Listen to the Animals", Galaxy's Edge, Issue 9, July 2014
  • "What I Assume You Shall Assume", Dead Man's Hand, edited by John Joseph Adams, May 2014
  • "Knotting Grass, Holding Ring", Long Hidden, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, May 2014
  • "Lecture 14: Concerning the Event Cloaking Device and Practical Applications Thereof" (online), Cosmos, April 2014
  • "The Ten Suns", Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse, March 2014
  • "The Gods Will Not Be Chained", The End is Nigh (Book I of the Apocalypse Triptych), edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, March 2014
  • "None Owns the Air", Lightspeed Magazine, February 2014
  • "What Is Expected of a Wedding Host" (online), Daily Science Fiction, February 2014
  • "The Reborn" (online),, January 2014
  • "Second Chance" (online), Nature, January 2014
  • "The Clockwork Soldier" (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2014
  • "You'll Always Have the Burden With You", republished, Perihelion Science Fiction, December 2013
  • "The Litigation Master and the Monkey King" (online), Lightspeed Magazine, August 2013
  • "The Plague", Nature, May 16, 2013
  • "The Messenger's Tale", Aoife's Kiss, Issue 43, Winter 2012/2013 issue, December 2012
  • "The Perfect Match" (online), Lightspeed Magazine, December 2012
  • "Good Hunting", (online), Strange Horizons, October 9, 2012
  • "The Perfect Book", Analog, December 2012 issue, September 22, 2012
  • "Arc", F&SF, September/October issue, September 2012
  • "Summer Reading", Daily Science Fiction, September 4, 2012
  • "Cutting", Electric Velocipede, Issue 24, July 30, 2012
  • "You'll Always Have the Burden With You", In Situ, Dagan Books, July 10, 2012
  • "Dear Emily", The Memory Eater Anthology, July 5, 2012
  • "The Silk Merchant", Apex, Issue 38, July 3, 2012
  • "Celestial Bodies", Nature, June 28, 2012
  • "Real Faces", F&SF, July/August issue, June 22, 2012
  • "The Illusionist" (online), Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi, Issue 4, June 2, 2012
  • "Mono no aware", The Future is Japanese, May 15, 2012; republished (online), Lightspeed Magazine, June 2013
  • "The Tome of Tourmaline" (online), Daily Science Fiction, May 9, 2012
  • "The Shadowcrafter", Nine, Issue 1, April 2012
  • "Intelligent Design" (online), Schrodinger's Mouse, April 2012
  • "Monkeys" (online), Nature's * "Futures" feature, April 19, 2012
  • "To the Moon", Fireside, April 17, 2012
  • "Memories of My Mother" (online), Daily Science Fiction, March 19, 2012
  • "All the Flavors" (online), GigaNotoSaurus, February 2012
  • "The Five Elements of the Heart Mind" (online), Lightspeed Magazine, January 24, 2012
  • "Maxwell's Demon", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2012
  • "The People of Pele", Asimov's, February 2012
  • "The Last Summer", 10 Flash, January 2012
  • "The Necrocracy", Penumbra, December 2011
  • "The Countable", Asimov's, December 2011
  • "Justice FAIRBOT", 140 And Counting, edited by Joanne Merriam, December 11, 2011
  • "Life Plus Seventy" (online), Kasma SF, November 23, 2011
  • "Safe Empathy", Daily Science Fiction, November 21, 2011
  • "Staying Behind" (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, October 1, 2011
  • "Golden Years in the Paleozoic", Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue #52, September 2011
  • "Real Artists", TRSF (September 2011), a special publication of MIT's Technology Review
  • "The Last Seed" (online), Daily Science Fiction, September 26, 2011
  • "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary", Panverse Three, edited by Dario Ciriello, September 2011
  • "Music of the Spheres", Mirror Shards: Exploring the Edges of Augmented Reality (Volume One), 2011
  • "The Box That Eats Memories" (online), Daily Science Fiction, August 10, 2011
  • "Hark! Listen to the Animals", The ePocalypse: e-mails at the end, co-written with Lisa Tang Liu, August 2011
  • "The Caretaker", Digital Science Fiction, June 2011
  • "Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2011.
  • "The Paper Menagerie" The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2011.
  • "Ad Block", (online), Kasma SF, March 19, 2011
  • "The Visit" (online), On the Premises, March 2011 (Issue 13)
  • "Simulacrum" (online), Lightspeed Magazine, February 15, 2011
  • "To the Stars" (online), Nature's * "Futures" feature, co-written with Shelly Li, February 3, 2011
  • "The Chase", Every Day Fiction, January 28, 2011
  • "Tying Knots" (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2011
  • "Saving Face" (online), Crossed Genres, co-written with Shelly Li, January 1, 2011
  • "The Letter" (online), Every Day Fiction, December 5, 2010
  • "The Literomancer", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2010
  • "The Phoenix" (online), On the Premises, July 2010 (Issue 11)
  • "Beidou (??)", The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, May 2010.
  • "Single-Bit Error", Thoughtcrime Experiments, edited by Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson, 2009 (read) (buy); International Speculative Fiction, edited by Roberto Mendes, December 2013;
  • "Beneath the Language" (online), On the Premises, July 2007 (Issue 2)
  • "State Change", Polyphony 4, edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake, September 2004.
  • "The Algorithms for Love" (online), Strange Horizons, July 2004; International Speculative Fiction, edited by Roberto Mendes, July 2012;
  • "Gossamer", Writers of the Future, Vol. 19, 2003.
  • "Carthaginian Rose", Empire of Dreams and Miracles: The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology Volume 1, edited by Orson Scott Card and Keith Olexa, 2002.
  • "The Ussuri Bear" (online), Originally published in THE BEAST WITHIN 4, edited by Jennifer Brozek, 2014

Upcoming novels and stories[edit]

The Veiled Throne, November 2, 2021.[41]

Speaking Bones April 2022[42]

Notable English-language translations[edit]

Remembrance of Earth's Past Series[edit]


  • Invisible Planets, Tor Books, November 2016
  • Broken Stars, Tor Books, February 2019

Additional English-language translations[edit]

  • "Vagabonds" by Hao Jingfang, April 2020
  • "Waste Tide" by Chen Quifan, April 2019
  • "Fields of Gold" by Liu Cixin, May 2018
  • "The Robot Who Liked to Tell Tall Tales" by Fei Dao, [1], Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2017
  • "The Snow of Jinyang" by Zhang Ran, [2],Clarkesworld Magazine, June 2016
  • "The Flowers of Shazui" by Chen Qiufan, Interzone, November 2012
  • "Taking Care of God" by Liu Cixin (online), Pathlight, March 2012
  • "A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight" by Xia Jia (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, February 2012
  • "The City of Silence" by Ma Boyong
  • "The Mark Twain Robots" by Ma Boyong, TRSF (September 2011), a special publication of MIT's Technology Review
  • "The Fish of Lijiang" by Chen Qiufan (online), Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2011
  • "Gathered in Translation", an essay on the process and subtleties of translating Chinese SF to English, and the reverse: online at Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2013

Liu's works in translation[edit]

Many of Liu's short stories have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, and multiple other languages and published in short stories collections:[44]

  • 爱的算法 ("Algorithms for Love and Others"), published by SFW Publishing, September 5, 2012
  • 思维的形状 ("The Shape of Thought and Others"), published by Tsinghua University Press, November 11, 2014
  • 杀敌算法 ("In the Loop and Others"), published by SFW Publishing, March, 2015
  • 奇点遗民 ("Staying behind"),published by Baror international, inc. Armonk New York, U.S.A, 2017
  • 紙の動物園, published by Hayakawa, edited by 古沢嘉通 (Yoshimichi Furusawa), April 2015
  • La Ménagerie de papier ("The Paper Menagerie") published by Editions du Bélial, edited by Ellen Herzfeld and Dominique Martel, 2015.
  • Jardins de poussière ("Dust gardens") published by Editions du Bélial, edited by Ellen Herzfeld and Dominique Martel, 2019.
  • El zoo de papel y otros relatos ("The Paper Menagerie") published by Runas, Alianza Editorial, edited by María Pilar San Román Navarro, 2017.


  1. ^ a b Reid, Luc (2013-03-25). "Not Just Vast Armies Clashing on Dark Plains at Night: An Interview with Ken Liu". Strange Horizons. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  2. ^ "Ken Liu Talks Silkpunk, Old Poems, and Contemporary Chinese SFF in His Reddit AMA". 13 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Clarkesworld Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy". Clarkesworld Magazine. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  4. ^ a b "MEET THE MAN BRINGING CHINESE SCIENCE FICTION TO THE WEST". Newsweek. 2016-10-30. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  5. ^ "Ken Liu Talks Silkpunk, Old Poems, and Contemporary Chinese SFF in His Reddit AMA". 13 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Ken Liu won science fiction awards for best short story". AsiaOne. 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  7. ^ a b c "Waterford alum — and award-winning short story writer — Ken Liu releases his debut novel". The Day (New London). 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  8. ^ a b "Fusion Fantasy: Ken Liu's sprawling hybrid fiction". Harvard Magazine. November–December 2016. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  9. ^ Liu, Ken. "Carthaginian Rose". Ken Liu, Writer. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Modern Mythmaking In Ken Liu's 'The Hidden Girl And Other Stories'". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  11. ^ "Interview: Ken Liu". Lightspeed. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Interview on The Legends of Luke Skywalker". November 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Chinese SF and the art of translation". Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  14. ^ "How Ken Liu went from engineer to lawyer to SF writer to the foremost translator of Chinese sf into English". 4 December 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  15. ^ "Ken Liu Will Keep an Open Mind". 15 November 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Beautiful Dreamer (2016)". IMDb. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Real Artists (2017)". IMDb.
  18. ^ "About". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  19. ^ "2013 Hugo Awards". 22 December 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  20. ^ David Barnett (2 September 2013). "The Hugo awards: 'beauty contest' or prize of the people?". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  21. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". 7 April 2012. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  22. ^ "Nebula Award Winners Announced". 15 May 2016.
  23. ^ "2016 Locus Award Winners". 25 June 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  24. ^ "2015 Hugo Awards". 31 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  25. ^ "2017 Locus Award Winners". 24 June 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  26. ^ "2016 Locus Award Winners". 25 June 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  27. ^ "2015 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  28. ^ "2012 Winners". Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  29. ^ "Announcing the 2020 Locus Awards Finalists". 2020-05-29. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  30. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 31 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
  31. ^ "Locus Online News » 2015 Locus Awards Finalists". 4 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  32. ^ "Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction News and Events". Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  33. ^ "2014 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced". SFWA. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  34. ^ "2014 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced". SFWA. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  35. ^ "2014 Sidewise Award Finalists". Locus. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
  36. ^ "Locus Online News » 2014 Locus Awards Finalists". 7 May 2014. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  37. ^ "2012 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced". SFWA. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  38. ^ Liu, Ken [@kyliu99] (11 Jul 2020). "Part 3 is so long that it has to be divided in two books. So four total" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 11, 2020 – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "Dandelion Dynasty Concludes in 2021". 14 September 2020.
  40. ^ Liu, Ken (2 December 2020). "A Time to Reflect". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  41. ^ "The Veiled Throne". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  42. ^ Liptak, Andrew (2020-09-14). "Ken Liu Provides Update on Next Dandelion Dynasty Novels". Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  43. ^ Andrew Liptak (19 October 2018). "How a fan fiction for Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem became an official novel". The Verge.
  44. ^ "Foreign Language Collections".

External links[edit]