Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang, Ken Liu (Translator)
Gallery/Saga Press: 4/14/20
eBook review copy; 640 pages

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) is a recommended science fiction novel set on Mars which explores contrasting societal values between Earth and Mars.

A century after the Martian War of Independence, a group of teenagers who were born and raised on Mars are sent to Earth as delegates. Called the Mercury Group, when they return home with a delegation of Terran representatives, the group begins to feel separate from the rest of Martian society and caught between the societal differences of the two worlds. After spending five of their formative teenage years on earth, members of the Mercury Group now have a fractured sense of identity and question how they fit into their community and their roles.

It is clear that there are still tensions between the two different systems of Earth and Mars. The novel closely follows Luoying, one of the returning students who is a dancer. She explored many aspects of Earth's society when she visited and now struggles to rectify the rigidity of Martian society with the materialistic, individualistic society of Western civilization. Luoying is the granddaughter of Hans Sloan, the consul of Mars. After her return from Earth, she is questioning her grandfather's role in being chosen as one of the teens to visit, as well as his role in the death of her parents.

Vagabonds is beautifully written, poetic, thoughtful and contemplative. Certainly it is clear why Hao Jingfang is a Hugo Award–winning author. In many ways it could have been set on future Earth, comparing and contrasting two different societies, and is more of a veiled comparison of an evolved socialism versus Western capitalism. While it explores the difference, it doesn't openly berate one over the other. It is also coming-of-age novel. The most notable fact is, however, very slow-paced novel and how you have to make a monumental choice to keep reading. This would be highly recommended, but it moves way-too-slowly.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

No comments: