I might not always be reviewing something, but I’m definitely always reading. Most days, it’s fan fiction, but sometimes I like to check out original works. For this #FridayReads, I decided to look up Hugo Award winner, Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing”.
In “Folding Beijing”, waste worker, Lao Dao, makes a trip from the Third Space to the First Space and back, in order to obtain the money to send his daughter to a good kindergarten. Along the way, Lao Dao’s eyes are opened to the reality of his place in the folding city.
For the life of me, I can’t tell you how I got to reading this story. I originally thought that I’d gotten the link from Twitter, but I’m beginning to think that Tumblr was what made me aware of it. I thought that it was a novel, so I remember trying to find it on Amazon, but a quick Google brought me to Uncanny Magazine.
Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings (which I had to check and make sure was on my wish list), translated the novelette into English. I thought that that was a sign that I had to read it. I can’t read any form of Chinese, and was a little bit weary that some of the nuances would be lost in translation, but I gave it a shot and found it to be relatively intriguing.
“Folding Beijing” is no The Fifth Season, but, as far as dystopian novels go, I think it could be a great prequel to a much larger work. I like that this one major change in Lao Dao’s fairly monotonous, life was the thing he would risk his it all for. I like that he didn’t even look at it as an adventure, just something he had to do. Here was a man who had accepted his lot in life, but was willing to take a chance for his daughter to have better.
I like that there was a bit of parallelism going on with Lao Dao and Lao Ge. Both came from the Third Space; Lao Ge was born two years before the Folding City, and Lao Dao was born two years after. Neither had married, both had people to care for, and they both seemed to have accepted the reality of their lives.
I really liked “Folding Beijing”, and I somewhat want Hao Jingfang to continue the story, but I’m also think it should stay as it is. The finality of it made it a seem like a slice-of-life piece, and, even though I have a ton of questions, I’m not sure where else the story could go. A very cruel point was brought up, and I really don’t know if change would even be a good idea.
Still, it’s not impossible.
“Folding Beijing” is for the curious. It’s for the sci-fi lovers who want to try something new, for the dystopian readers who aren’t quite interested in overthrowing a government today. It’s for people who have the time to read it.
I liked “Folding Beijing”. It’s the story of a man seeing the inequality and deception of a city of the future from the inside, where before only the change could be seen from the outside. It’s something that I think that others would find intriguing. It’s a good read for a Friday morning.
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