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China Mountain Zhang (1992)

af Maureen F. McHugh

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,3684313,753 (3.99)66
I am Zhang, alone with my light, and in that light I think for a moment that I am free.' Imagine a world: a sinocentric world where Chinese Marxism has vanquished the values of capitalism and Lenin is the prophet of choice. A cybernetic world where the new charioteers are flyers, human-powered kites dancing in the skies over New York in a brief grab at glory. A world where the opulence of Beijing marks a new cultural imperialism, as wealthy urbanites flirt with interactive death in illegal speakeasies, and where Arctic research stations and communes on Mars are haunted by their own fragile dangers. A world of fear and hope, of global disaster and slow healing, where progress can only be found in the cracks of a crumbling hegemony. The world of Zhang. An anti-hero who's still finding his way, treading a path through a totalitarian order - a path that just might make a difference.… (mere)
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» Se også 66 omtaler

Engelsk (42)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (43)
Viser 1-5 af 43 (næste | vis alle)
The (very) good: it perfectly and subtly depicts the way life is in a half-hearted tired communist state, with the mixture of fear/constant threat/guilt for being slightly different and apparent normalcy that can hardly be understood by those not living through it; it also catches the atmosphere of gloom and its effects (depression, suicide) and the constant desperation to do something to hide that from one's own mind. Some characters are well drawn and the reader gets to genuinely care about them. The writing is excellent, realistic but fluid. 4,5/5 there. But:
The bad: the use of way too many first-person points of view is unusual in a tiresome and unnecessary way. Some are totally useless, go nowhere and should have been cut out (the Angel and San Xiang chapters). The rhythm, already quite slow, does not keep up constantly.
The worse: it is not really science fiction; the scifi elements are too few, too low-key, lame/uninteresting and actually just there to offer the pretext for the background.
The worst: the end leaves some story lines unfinished, not in a ”what if?” sense, but in a ”the author did not feel like writing the book any more” way. For example, there is a lot of build up in a life threatening situation on a colony on Mars, where something is wrong and the characters try to find out what and, well, not die, and then... the book ends. What was actually wrong? Was it solved and how? Did they die? We will never know, cause the story just is not continued. Why all the build up then? And it is not the only story line started and not really going somewhere.
To sum up, I really enjoyed reading it and wanted much more of it; but that went on through a constant struggle with some uninspired auctorial choices, so in the end it feels more like a 3,5/5. ( )
  milosdumbraci | May 5, 2023 |
En un futuro dominado por la China comunista, un homosexual de ascendencia chino-hispano intenta labrarse un porvenir en unos Estados Unidos que, como todo el planeta, es un país satélite de la gran potencia china, donde la homosexualidad es perseguida. Una ucronía que resulta incluso superior a la clásica «El hombre en el castillo» de Philip K. Dick. Una sociedad creíble y unos personajes y situaciones sumamente humanos con una hipótesis político-social nada desdeñable.
  Natt90 | Mar 27, 2023 |
I loved this book. And two of my favorite subjects in it: living on mars, and a revolution to put down capitalism. Even if it's just fiction this was so special to me.
The protagonist (he's the ABC, American Born Chinese) likes to go watch the kite races, which is where tiny little humans that strap themselves into Kites and then plug themselves into it, so that it's sort of like plugging your phone into your charger.
This book takes place in what I believe is the 22nd century. Technology has advanced so much that everybody has these ports on their wrists, so that they can plug themselves into stuff. If you want to speak another language, you can be "augmented" for it.

Fliers..
"... A bunch of us go out to a place on LaGuardia where we can drink and make a lot of noise. It's called commemorative, and fliers hang out there. Cinnabar's picked up two guys; a blonde and an ABC, both clearly bent. So's cinnabar. They aren't fliers, of course. Cinnabar has the hots for the blonde, whose name is peter. He isn't tall, not for, you know, a non-flier, I'm not good at heights, maybe one-seven? And not heavy. But next to him Cinnabar looks like nothing but bone and hair. He's pretty, too. And scrawny Cinnabar is not pretty.
(5'6")

After the protagonist works for a year at Baffin Island (Arctic Circle), he gets the chance to get his 4-year degree in engineering at the University in Guangzhou. He feels so all alone there; he knows no one. But he gets lucky, because his tutor turns out to be gay, or what is known as "bent" in the book. He doesn't know how to dress so he notes how his tutor is dressing, as he is a real fashion plate.
The fashion in Gangzhouo:
"I dress in my new clothes; calf-high boots, black jacket with swallow Tails over red, and brushed gray tights like Haitao wore. Am I doing it wrong, I wonder? Have I chosen well? I could disappear on the street in a thousand similar outfits. Will he approve?

The male sex worker Liu Wen, who Zhang meets at Haitao's place:
"Escape is escape. And if I must be a bad element, I might as well allow myself the luxury of indulging as many categories as possible.
Bad elements. There used to be five categories of black elements; landlords, criminals, counter-revolutionaries, capitalists, and one other which I don't remember. We studied it in Middle School in political theory, that was a long time ago for me. Capitalists have been rehabilitated. I don't remember where intellectuals originally came in, perhaps counter-revolutionaries, but bent [gay] as we are, we are criminals. That has not changed in all the years since the revolution."
(Gawd I love this book)

They go to a club that is raided by the police. Haitao and Zhang escape, but only just. They climb floors and spend the night on a catwalk.
"The catwalk is too narrow for us to stand side by side. It's wider than an i-beam, of course, but we are high above the floor and it looks narrower. I take Haitao's wrist with my left hand and start across it. I can see the control panel on the other side and a set of stairs going down, but that side of the building is shadowed and I can't see if there is a loading dock. There should be.
'Hold on to the railing,' I say. Haitao does what he's told. I wish he would think a little for himself, I am cold and I ache and he's acting like a child. Damn it, I ought to leave him here, let him find his own way out.
Anger is good. Anger is better than what Haitao is feeling, than apathy or, what did Maggie Smallwood call it? Perlerorneq, the awareness of the futility of it all. Despair. Underneath my anger I am all too aware that I've been just as paralyzed as Haitao is now."

ZhaoXiezhi was the father of the revolution that destroyed capitalism ( )
1 stem burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
A science-fictional gen-X late 20's crisis. Zhang "China Mountain" Zhong Shan is an American Born Chinese (ABC) in New York City in a future where the USA has had a socialist revolution and China is the number one country in the world. It's rich and everyone wants to live there or work there. Zhang looks the part -- he appears Chinese and speaks Mandarin. But he is a diffident gay American who tries to conceal parts of his identity daily. Gradually he fumbles his way towards realising what to do with his life. Zhang is the main narrator, but the book is interspersed with perspectives from others in this world. A shy Chinese girl, a cybernetic kite flyer and some homesteaders from a Martian colony are all linked tangentially to Zhang. The Martian connection is the most tenuous, though their stories are still interesting. ( )
  questbird | Jan 13, 2022 |
I really enjoyed this book. I started it without knowing anything about it, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a dystopian set in a distant future where China is the dominant power in the world, and humans have also begun to colonize Mars. The story starts off in New York, but we visit a few other places, including China and Mars.

There are multiple POV characters, but we spend the most time with the titular character, Zhang Zhong Shan. His name means “China Mountain”, which explains the title. The different POVs are only loosely connected. I was confused for a while because whenever there are multiple POVs in a book, I try to predict what will happen in the story to bring those POVs together by the end since that’s what usually happens. I even thought I’d figured that out at one point, but nope. :) There isn’t a strong driving plot either, we’re just following these people through their lives and the difficulties they face.

I looked forward to having time to read it each evening and finding out what the characters would do or have happen to them next. I didn’t strongly identify with any of them, but I cared about them and was engrossed by their stories. There were a couple really horrible things that happened, and the author telegraphed them so strongly that it was sometimes a little difficult to understand how the characters didn’t pick up on them. I can better understand how San-xiang ended up in her situation. She was so sheltered and inexperienced, combined with her fear of being impolite, and she wasn’t practiced in standing up for herself. But I really thought Zhang should have seen what was coming with Haitao and I was so disappointed that he didn’t. If he had though, I suspect things would not have turned out well for either of them.

This is at times a bleak and depressing book, but there is also some humor and also some hope. Dystopian books often end in ways I don’t care for, but I was satisfied with this one. In Zhang’s first lecture near the end of the book, he concludes that “You cannot predict the future”, an idea that is dangerous in the setting of this book. I saw that as a hopeful note. Sure, maybe sometimes things will be worse than you predict, but they might be better too if people do things to make a difference. Maybe Zhang’s subversive comments to his students will be the butterfly wings that change the course of society for the better in this fictional world. I thought the book mirrored the idea of not being able to predict the future with an unpredictable (at least to me) end. I was afraid we were headed toward a more depressing finish. Instead, it ended on a hopeful note, at least for Zhang. He made choices that might not always result in an easy life, but they held out a lot of promise for a better and happier life doing things he actually enjoyed, with people around him that he could trust and feel comfortable with. I did want a little more closure for the other characters, though.

I’ve decided to rate this at 4.5 stars and round down to 4 on Goodreads. I’m kind of sad that I can’t spend any more time with Zhang; I’ve enjoyed these last few days following him around. ( )
1 stem YouKneeK | Nov 12, 2021 |
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Legally everyone is equal, but even here at the other end of the world in the Socialist Union of American States we all know better than that.
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I am Zhang, alone with my light, and in that light I think for a moment that I am free.' Imagine a world: a sinocentric world where Chinese Marxism has vanquished the values of capitalism and Lenin is the prophet of choice. A cybernetic world where the new charioteers are flyers, human-powered kites dancing in the skies over New York in a brief grab at glory. A world where the opulence of Beijing marks a new cultural imperialism, as wealthy urbanites flirt with interactive death in illegal speakeasies, and where Arctic research stations and communes on Mars are haunted by their own fragile dangers. A world of fear and hope, of global disaster and slow healing, where progress can only be found in the cracks of a crumbling hegemony. The world of Zhang. An anti-hero who's still finding his way, treading a path through a totalitarian order - a path that just might make a difference.

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