Welcome to the dream world that is Vagabonds!
The translation creates a prose poem that lasts through hundreds of pages. In the beginning, the Earth colonized Mars. Next, came the civil wars breaking the two worlds into separate societies. Finally, came peace activities including delegations from each world visiting the other.
This is the story of the return of the fifty-member Mars delegation to its home planet five years after leaving it. In particular, the story of one girl, Luoying, who has trouble readjusting to Mars political climate after experiencing the radically different politics of Earth. It is also the story of Eko Lu, a documentarian with the fifty-member delegation from Earth to Mars. He decides to document Luoying, who is the only granddaughter of the Mars’ dictator.
It is obvious from the beginning that Mars is China and Earth is the West. Mars is a communist dictatorship with strict rules for blending in. Earth is capitalist and full of sometimes conflicting nation-states. Both have their pros and cons. But the cons can only be seen from faraway. So only once Luoying and Eko left their own worlds could they see the full truth.
While there is definitely some world-building here, the main focus is philosophical. What’s amazing is this book was written by a Chinese woman who works for the Chinese government. It does not present the Chinese-like Mars community as always right and the Western-like Earth as always wrong. It is much more nuanced that a pure white hat-black hat viewpoint.
If you want to read a more languid and philosophical type of science fiction, please read Vagabonds. You won’t be disappointed. 4 stars!
Thanks to Saga Press, Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.