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Edition 24: Broken Stars by Tang Fei (translator: Ken Liu)

Jiaming often dreams of the white woman, who predicts the future in her stars. School dominates her teenage life, and she seeks the attachment and happiness she doesn’t find at home with her distant father. Despite all other predictions, her life begins to spiral out of control. This dark, supernatural fantasy from Tang Fei captures the shallow and excruciating existence of the teenager, and their detachment from others.  SY

If I really think about it, the stars did not arrange such a fate.

But the stars are broken, and so the definitive proof is gone. This moment is a vertex where time caves in: to the left is the past, to the right—

To the right should have been the future.

But the stars are broken.

Also, I met Zhang Xiaobo.


She didn’t bring an umbrella though the weather forecast said it was going to rain. After dinner, as she passed by the shoe rack, she missed the umbrella that had been specifically set out for her.

A few other students were scattered along the sidewalk, gradually gathering into a trickle of school uniforms that crossed the road and entered the school. Tang Jiaming entered the lecture hall from the back, at the top of the tiered seats, just as the first bell for evening study hall rang.

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Edition 16: Internal Exile by Jim Lee

flag USWhat if your worst memory or your most regretted action was replayed for you over and over again. Welcome to corrective therapy, the capital punishment under the current planetary government. Jim Lee’s science fiction world shows us that it is our ideas which can be dangerous to the powers-that-be. SY

They roused Sidi Mohamed Daoud from a very old nightmare—one he once dared imagine he’d left behind with his troubled and far-distant adolescence. Ironically enough, it was the one that had driven him into social activism in the first place. And now, with a secret and shameful certitude, he knew it would be used against him.

And the ones who were about to do this unspeakable thing to him had no idea, no conception what he faced. If they did, perhaps they would understand his attempted suicide. But would they care—even if they knew?

He looked at the Senior Attending Physician’s impassive face and doubted it.

Two brawny orderlies, one of either gender, deactivated the restraints. They slipped his naked form into one of the new ‘smart’ hospital gowns—one that would detach itself and slither away upon the Senior Attending Physician’s order.

With the SAP, the orderlies escorted Daoud from the temporary holding cell. They ushered him down one final hallway to Corrective Therapy Room D427.

“That many?” Daoud blinked, turned to the SAP. “Doctor Sayem? Each inmate does require a separate room?”

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Edition 16: Running Shoes by Ken Liu

flag USGiang works in a sweatshop in Vietnam, making running shoes on a production line. When the unthinkable happens, Giang goes on to see a different world to the one she’s known. This magical realism story by Ken Liu is one to make you stop and think about our consumeristic society and what exploitation is worth. SY

“You’re under quota again!” Foreman Vuong shouted. “Why are you so slow?”

Fourteen-year old Giang’s face flushed with shame. She stared at the angry veins on the foreman’s sweaty neck, pulsing like fat slugs on a ripe tomato. She hated Vuong even more than she hated the shoe factory’s Taiwanese owners and managers. One expected the foreigners to treat the Vietnamese badly, but Vuong was from right here in Yên Châu District.

“Sixteen hours is a long shift,” Giang mumbled. She lowered her eyes. “I get tired.”

“You’re lazy!” Vuong went on to spew a stream of curses.

Giang flinched, anticipating a flurry of strikes and blows. She tried desperately to look contrite.

Vuong considered her, his lips curling up in a cruel smile. “I’ll have to make you stronger through punishment. Run five laps around the factory, right now, and you’ll stay as long as you have to tonight to make up your quota.”

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