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Kuang, R F

Entry updated 29 January 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1996-    ) Chinese-born translator and author, in US from the age of four. Her ambitious fantasy sequence, The Poppy War series beginning with The Poppy War (2018), casts the twentieth-century story of China as an intensely complex but coherent drama with a large cast and much War. The anguish of lives conducted in the midst of history is conveyed with enough detail and analogy that it is possible to engage with the whole as a ghost-like Alternate History. The Poppy War won the Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for best debut novel, and Kuang received the 2020 Astounding Award as best new writer.

Kuang's first singleton, Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence (2022), though technically fantasy, does employ an arsenal of devices from the Fantastika toolkit designed to loosen the bonds of the SF Megatext. The nineteenth-century Oxford of the tale, battening itself on imported knowledge and its world's use of magical "silver" as a mercantile weapon to pry riches from conquered territories (see Imperialism), is rendered at points in Steampunk terms. The protagonist, an aspirant linguist brought to Oxford from China, becomes deeply involved in the Babel institute, a world centre for Linguistics and translation issues (see also Libraries). An underlying sense that to translate and to conquer are both exercises in exploitative violence motors the tale, shaping passages of engaging erudition. This tale won a Nebula as best novel and a Locus Award as best fantasy novel; it would have appeared on the final Hugo ballot in 2023 if that year's Chinese Worldcon Hugo administrators had not arbitrarily disqualified it with no reason given. [JC]

Rebecca F Kuang

born Guangzhou, Guangdong, China: 29 May 1996



The Poppy War

  • The Poppy War (New York: Harper Voyager, 2018) [The Poppy War: hb/Jung Shan Chang]
  • The Dragon Republic (New York: Harper Voyager, 2019) [The Poppy War: hb/Jung Shan Chang]
  • The Burning God (New York: Harper Voyager, 2020) [The Poppy War: hb/Jung Shan Chang]

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