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Tam, Albert

Entry updated 26 April 2019. Tagged: Author.

(1972-    ) Chinese author, born in Hong Kong, educated at the Universities of London and Bradford, and with a transnational following in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan (the Republic of China), Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora.

He is most lauded for his Cyberpunk Renxing Ruanjian ["Humanoid Software"] series, redolent of the concerns of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell (1995), set in a Near Future world in which online warfare is the new norm. He also enjoys a powerful footprint in the mainstream, with several of his novels running in serial forms in prominent newspapers, including the Hong Kong Economic Journal and the Hong Kong Oriental News.

Tam's works' appeal across several borders, but also across several dialects, has given them a certain Linguistic edge. Even his name is a slippery, globalized concept – born in a (then-) British territory on Chinese soil but with a Cantonese ethnic identity, it is difficult to tell whether his identity is best parsed as Albert Tam (English), Tan Jian (Mandarin) or Taam Gim (Cantonese). Many of his neologisms and structures have an ineffable sense of otherness, logically assembled out of pre-existing Chinese characters, but somehow slightly off-kilter. This can sometimes be as mundane as the difference between American and British English, but on other occasions it can seem as if Japanese terms have been transposed directly into Mandarin, or if the Chinese language has been twisted in strange new directions. This, in turn, can give his books a Technothriller aspect, as if they were truly written the day after tomorrow. His book titles are given below in Mandarin, which might be reasonably argued to be his largest current readership. [JonC]

Taam Gim

born Hong Kong, China: 5 September 1972

works (selected)


Renxing Ruanjian

  • Linghun Shangzai ["The Soul Recorded"] (Hong Kong: Tianxing-she, 2010) [Renxing Ruanjian: binding unknown/]
  • Shengming zhi Lun ["The Wheel of Life"] (Hong Kong: Tianxing-she, 2011) [Renxing Ruanjian: binding unknown/]

individual titles

  • Xu'ni Weilai ["Virtual Futures"] (Hong Kong: Linglongbi, 1997) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Huanshen Shashou ["Bodyswap Killer"] (Hong Kong: Wenlin-she, 1998) [binding unknown/]
  • 1K Jianyu ["1K Prison"] (Hong Kong: Crown, 2000) [coll: binding unknown/]


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