Ken Liu

In this episode...

Today on The Soul of Life I speak with Ken Liu, author of The Paper Menagerie, a short story that is the first work of fiction to sweep the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy awards. Ken is the author of an epic fantasy series called The Dandelion Dynasty, in which the heroes are engineers, not wizards.

Some of Ken’s stories have been adapted for animation or film, and AMC is making a TV show based on his stories in The Hidden Girl.

Liu is trained as an attorney and worked as a software engineer. His work translating many Chinese sci-fi authors into English has helped many of these authors become huge successes in the U.S., most notably Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, which Netflix just announced it acquired with several other books for what is rumored to be close to $1B.

Ken says his fiction often projects East Asian history and culture onto the backdrop of the modern American Empire and says our traditional association with Roman History in the U.S. is an artificial rigidity he hopes to bend.

“We just have a refusal to accept that the story of America includes Asian voices,” says Liu.

Finally, Ken speaks about one of my favorite subjects—how our mind and our sense of Self or Soul—is actually a continuous construction process.

I ask Ken to do a little experiment with me and reflect on his own mind’s construction process listening to me read back to him some of his own writing.

"We’re just bit players in someone else’s story. That’s always how it’s going to be. How many more trillions and quadrillions of stories like that are there in the universe?"

                          
– Ken Liu, speaking about life outside of our solar system.

Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant, prior to becoming a full-time writer. Liu frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, cryptocurrency, history of technology, bookmaking, narrative futures, and the mathematics of origami.

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Episode 18