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Publisher's Summary

The first novel from the Hugo Award-winning author of Folding Bejing, Hao Jingfang, translated by the Hugo Award-winning translator of The Three-Body Problem, Ken Liu.

A century ago, the Martian colonies rebelled against the rule of Earth. Having declared an independent Martian Republic, the two planets evolved along separate trajectories, becoming two incompatible worlds vastly different in their scale, economy, sociopolitical system, and, most importantly of all, ideals. Inhabitants of the two planets have come to view each other with suspicion and even hatred. Five years ago, with the apparent goal of reconciliation, the Martian government sent a group of students to Earth to study humanity's home planet and act as goodwill ambassadors from the Red Planet. Now the students have returned to Mars, accompanied by a group of prominent Earth delegates, to see if the two worlds can learn to co-exist in peace and friendship. 

Almost immediately, negotiations break down and old enmities erupt. 

Luoying, a gifted Martian dancer, finds herself caught in the crosscurrents of political intrigue and philosophical warfare. Martians and Terrans, artists and politicians, old friends and new mentors, classic books and revolutionary ideas – everyone and everything challenges her, pushing her to declare her allegiance. Attuned to the hopes and fears of both her native land and the world on which she came of age, Luoying must shoulder the burden of discovering the truth through the web of lies spun by both sides. She must chart a new course between history and the future that is coalescing around her. If she fails, everything she's ever loved will be destroyed.

©2016 Jia Jiangsu Phoenix Arts Publishing (P)2020 W F Howes

Critic Reviews

"Hugo Award-winner Jingfang's cerebral, futuristic debut explores the interplay between societal values and individual dreams in crisp, gorgeous prose.... Fans of literary science fiction will relish this challenging tale." (Publishers Weekly

"A thoughtful debut with ample scope for reader engagement." (Kirkus)

"[A] masterful narrative. Highly recommended for fans of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy or readers who enjoy sf with a focus on social and political themes." (Booklist)

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  • Heber Rowan
  • 05-30-20

Philosophical treatment of politics and cultural development

This is an ambitious book. It attempts to capture the same vastness of the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson but focuses on debates about economic development and philosophical identity. There is much to ponder from this detailed look at it for the future, however the plot runs at times too slowly to maintain any excitement. It is hard to develop strong empathy with the characters beyond sentimentality due to the narrative perspective.
Enjoyable but something was clearly missing.

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  • Ricci
  • 11-26-21

A Strange Novel Well Crafted

A strange novel in which the heroes are mostly the ones who don’t take action: one in which careful thinking, ideas and principles compete; in which feelings matter. Pleasant; engaging (eventually); nicely crafted. Annoyingly naive in places: e.g where teenagers get to discuss their thoughts with senior politicians; where parliament plays host to arguments in which both sides stick to the point & tell the truth.
The performance was great except for making the lead heroine sound too much like a a drippy Violet-Elizabeth

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  • McFroogal
  • 05-13-20

Might be better as a book rather than on audio.

Plodding at the start - might get better but I just gave up. The combination of translation and narration makes it halting and lacking anything that draws you in. Very interesting ideas though.