English translations of Chinese popular fiction are still a rarity in the west, almost as much so as a science fiction novel becoming a runaway bestseller in China. So when the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu was picked up for translation it was a little hard to contain my excitement. My feelings after reading the first installment are that the accolades have been well earned. The Three-Body Problem (Tor, $25.99) opens in the 1960s with the persecution of intellectuals during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, then brings us into the near future in which Chinese scientists are lauded and their greatest enemy is an insoluble physics problem that might be leading to their deaths. From Communist experiments yielding unexpected alien contact to virtual reality games that posit astrophysics questions to their players, Liu constructs a compelling story and allegory for Chinese Communism’s most troubling aspects. An engrossing read for fans of thoughtful literary fiction or hard SciFi alike.
Continuing the delightful madness begun in their 2011 collection, A Study in Sherlock, famed Sherlockian authors Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger have once again sought out writers from a variety of genres to step into the realm of Baker Street. From new fictions penned by the likes of literary critic Michael Dirda to international bestselling authors of Sara Paretsky’s caliber, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes (Pegasus Books, $24.95) is one of the most thoroughly imagined and genuinely Holmesian projects yet undertaken. Whether you are a Holmes fanatic or a more casual observer of the great game, step into the worlds painted by these talented authors, which feature their takes on the classic characters, cases, and casualties from Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest creation.
Though almost everything may seem a matter of life or death during high school, teenagers really can be cruel, and in Tana French’s new novel, The Secret Place (Viking, $27.95), actions have serious consequences. As the Dublin rookie Stephen Moran investigates a murder, he has to cope with not just teenagers but a harsh partner and the delicate matter of his superior’s daughter being named a prime suspect. As she has in the previous volumes of her excellent Dublin Murder Squad series, French brings past crimes and characters into the present case, unfolding everything with exquisite timing and crisp dialogue. Continue your Tana French collection or dive into her realistic mysteries with this latest work