Interview: Ken Liu (FISH)

Name: Ken Liu

Age: 36

Author of: “How Do You Know If a Fish Is Happy?”

Current Geographic Location: Massachusetts, near Boston.

Original Hometown, if different: Lanzhou, China

Twitter: @kyliu99


Recent publications:

  • “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel” — The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2013.
  • Good Hunting” — Strange Horizons, October 2012.
  • “The Waves” — Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2012 (Nebula nominee)
  • The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” — Lightspeed, Issue 27, August 7, 2012 (Nebula nominee)
  • All the Flavors” — GigaNotoSaurus, February 2012 (Nebula nominee)

Which zodiac sign where you born under? Ophiuchus / Dragon

If a magic fish granted you one wish, what would it be? FTL travel.

What inspired your story? I’ve always wanted to write a story based on the legend that a carp jumping over the Dragon’s Gate will become a dragon. A sci-fi setting seemed perfect.

Did you listen to music while writing it? No. I can’t listen to music and write at the same time.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? One. A very extensive one.

What is your favorite bit?

“I believe that Freddy is my friend, and that makes all the difference.”

Want to read the rest?

Get the ePub (for nook and other readers) here and mobi (perfect for your Kindle) here. Only $4.99 each, instant downloads.

You can also get FISH as an ebook through Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Kobo.

Congratulations to the 2012 Nebula Nominees!

Tina Connolly is nominated for a Nebula for her novel Ironskin, out now from Tor.

Ken Liu is nominated in the novella category for “All The Flavors”, published by GigaNotoSaurus. He’s also nominated in the novelette category with “The Waves”, published by Asimov’s, and in the short story category with “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”, published by Lightspeed.

Cat Rambo is nominated in the short story category with “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” from her collection Near + Far.

Connolly’s story “Paperheart” is in our next anthology, Bibliotheca Fantastica. We have two Liu stories at Dagan Books – “You’ll Always Have the Burden With You” was published last year (IN SITU), and he appears in our just-released FISH anthology with “How Do You Know If A Fish Is Happy?” Rambo also appears in FISH with “The Fisher Queen”. They’re all great writers and lovely people, and we’ll be rooting for them.

Read more about the Nebula nominees here, and good luck to everyone!

Interview: Ken Liu (IN SITU)

Name: Ken Liu

Age: 35

Author of: “You’ll Always Have the Burden With You”

Current Geographic Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Original Hometown: Lanzhou, China

Twitter: @kyliu99


Recent publications: “The Paper Menagerie” in F&SF, “Tying Knots” in Clarkesworld, “Simulacrum” in Lightspeed, “The Countable” in Asimov’s.  For more, please go to

Do you think alien life exists in the Universe? Yes, though my worry is that we won’t recognize it when we see it (or they us).  It seems possible that other forms of life may unfold at a much faster or slower time scale than ours.

If you could travel off Earth, would you? What if it meant you could never come back? I would, though I’d have to convince my family to come with me.  Not being able to come back is not as frightening as it seems.  All of us eventually go to a place from where there is no return.

What inspired your story? I’m a tax lawyer, and I’ve wanted to write a speculative fiction story about the tax code for a long time.  Like many subjects, the tax code seems boring until you dig into it.  IN SITU finally gave me a prompt that clicked for me.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? None.  I can’t write when I listen to music.  But I did read the Internal Revenue Code a lot (which I have to do anyway for my job).  I ended up discovering tidbits that I hadn’t known about before.  For example, “qualified automobile demonstration use” by a car salesman is considered a nontaxable “working condition fringe benefit.”  I wonder what sort of politics led to that perk being explicitly codified.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? 3.

What is your favorite bit? I really enjoyed constructing the “translations” in the story, but I’ll leave those to the reader to discover.  The following image got me started on the story and stayed with me long after:

“The Great Tower, a helix spiraling a thousand meters into the sky, loomed high to the left of the tiny shuttle and cast two long shadows pointing away from the twin suns of Lura.  The shadows seemed to Jane the hands of a giant clock, counting down to the heat death of the universe.“

Editor’s note: It is this image that inspired the cover. It stuck with me, too.

Buy IN SITU now!

EPUB for nook and other readers, $3.99: Click here to buy DRM FREE

MOBI for nook and other readers, $3.99: Click here to buy DRM FREE

Trade paperback, 5″x8″, 248 pages, via Amazon, $9.99: Click here to buy ISBN-10: 0983137323

KINDLE edition via Amazon, $3.99: Click here to buy ASIN: B008J4ZBLW

Author Ken Liu Interviewed By SF Signal

One of Dagan Books’ regular contributors, author Ken Liu, was recently interviewed by the fabulous speculative fiction news and review site SF Signal. There he talks about genre, translating fiction, making time for novel writing, and exactly what happened to 2004.

Plus, they included the IN SITU cover (which is based on Liu’s story in that anthology, “You’ll Always Have the Burden With You“).

Read the interview here!

Official Table of Contents for FISH

Table of Contents, FISH (due out February 8, 2012)

  1. Alexa, Camille “The Skin of Her Skin”
  2. Bennardo, Matthew “The Fish-Wife’s Tale”
  3. Blake, Polenth “Thwarting the Fiends”
  4. Darrach, Shay “I Know a Secret”
  5. Davis, Amanda C. “O How the Wet Folk Sing”
  6. Dixon, Paul A. “One Let Go”
  7. Duyvis, Corinne “The Applause of Others”
  8. Englehardt, Megan “Anansi and the New Thing”
  9. Fleming, Sam “What the Water Gave Her”
  10. Fuller, Andrew “A Salmon Tale, 2072”
  11. Fullerton, H.L. “The Fish Are There On Land”
  12. Gardner, Cate “Too Delicate for Human Form”
  13. George, Zachary “You, Fish”
  14. Hendrix, Sarah “Never to Return”
  15. Kane, Tim “Vanity Mirror”
  16. Kneeland, Andrea “Becoming Human”
  17. Kwak, Jessie “Needlepoint Fish of Azure City”
  18. L’Orange, April “Quick Karma”
  19. Lalumière, Claude “Xandra’s Brine”
  20. Liu, Ken “How Do You Know If a Fish Is Happy?”
  21. McBride, Tracie “The Touch of Taniwha”
  22. McIntyre, T.J. “How Did the Catfish Get a Flat Head, You Wonder?”
  23. Nakayama, Timothy “Fallen Dragon”
  24. Obedoza, Mel “The Fisherman and Golden Fish”
  25. Palmer, Suzanne “Lanternfish In the Overworld”
  26. Povey, Jennifer R. “Water Demons”
  27. Rambo, Cat “The Fisher Queen”
  28. Romasco-Moore, Maria “Fisheye”
  29. Ruby, Jacob “The Talking Fish of Shangri-La”
  30. Shvartsman, Alex “Life at the Lake’s Shore”
  31. Spencer, A. D. “Fish Tears”
  32. Wood, Mjke “The Last Fisherman of Habitat 37”
  33. Zup, Andreea “Maria and the Fish”

Please note the Table of Contents is currently listed alphabetically by author’s last name, and does not reflect the final order of stories.

News From Some Dagan Books Writers

It’s been a good week for some of our writers, and we wanted to share the news!

Kelly Stiles, who wrote “Relevant Information From the Tel Najmah Site” for IN SITU, has taken first place in the Absolute Write 2011 Horror Hounds contest! Amongst the prizes was a publishing contract with Black Label Books for her winning novella. Sarah Hendrix, who (in addition to being an editorial intern and slush reader here at Dagan Books) wrote “Rachel’s Journal” for IN SITU, took second place!

Ken Liu, another IN SITU author, gave us “You’ll Always Have the Burden With You” but more recently had his poem “The Mesozoic Tour Guide” published at Strange Horizons. Read it here!

Why we love Anthologies (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

“Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” Dr. Seuss quite famously wrote, when he wrote about the potential great adventures that await us just outside our door. Publishing is an adventure, one we love and are pleased to be taking, but one that is has its Bumps and its Slumps like any other path. As we expand into publishing novellas, novels, academic writing, and story collections by individual authors, Dagan Books will always publish one or two open anthologies a year. Many people have asked us why? since anthologies are notoriously bad at making back their initial investment. In our case, because we insist on paying our contributors as much as we possibly can with each book, we go into the printing of anthologies knowing we’re unlikely to ever completely make that money back. Why, then, would we be crazy enough to do it?

You’ll be on your way up!

Dagan Books is, admittedly, a tiny little company with only, by the end of our first year, a handful of books to our credit. We started as the pet project of one lonely writer/editor, working in her living room, editing the prose from the porn while she put together Cthulhurotica. We’re growing and we’re getting out there, but we don’t quite yet have the name recognition that would encourage readers to give our books a chance simply because we published them. We need to reach the greatest number of new readers, and publishing anthologies allows us to do that because we’re offering a larger number of authors for your consumption.

You’ll be seeing great sights!

Anthologies give us a chance to see not one person’s vision, but dozens, all at once. Within the pages of one book are 20 different worlds or more. Cthulhurotica took us across time and space, setting stories in:

  • modern-day Innsmouth, Massachusetts
  • Ashland, Oregon, in the 1960s
  • Ancient Greece
  • Mars, sometime in the distant future
  • scientific laboratories, motel rooms, co-ed college dorms, creepy old houses, lonely mountaintops, and over and over again … the sea

IN SITU takes the idea that alien cultures can be studied, with the same (well, let’s call it “academic rigor”) that our own species’ artifacts have been unearthed and cataloged with. If you think that would limit the settings, think again. Stories in that collection range from the past through the present and into a future on our planet as well as out in space. We unearth strange mysteries in Egypt, visit lonely old men in England, explore the alternate history of a South American dig site, hide the truth in Africa, leave our small blue planet behind for the vast wonders of space. The characters in this book find aliens, treasure, fear, death, glory, riches, and eventually find they’ve left being human far behind.

You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

Publishing anthologies gives us a chance to accept work from emerging writers and place it alongside the writing of those authors who are a little better known. If you love Ken Liu’s crisp and lovely work from Lightspeed or Fantasy and Science Fiction magazines, you’ll want to pick up IN SITU when it releases in July. If you know Cody Goodfellow’s creepy stories from Permuted Press, you’re going to want to read his offering in Cthulhurotica. Know Kenneth Hite from Call of Cthulhu? He’s got an essay in Cthulhurotica too. While you’re reading those pieces, you’ll also see stories from first time authors who’re getting their start here at Dagan Books. Other authors who were accepted to our first collection have continued to work with us, like K. V. Taylor, whose brilliant writing appears in both Cthulhurotica and IN SITU, who has written for a future project, and who has come on board as an editor for the upcoming FISH anthology.

Why do we love anthologies? They’re an introduction to our world. Dagan Books has a vision, a way of doing business, and a style we aspire to, and our anthologies are a window into us.