Ken Liu has been publishing stories everywhere, it seems – when he’s not busy translating Chinese SF into English! Ken translated the Ma Boyong story, The City of Silence, for us, and has a brand-new translated story, by Xia Jia, coming next month in Clarkesworld Magazine.
Part of my interest comes from questioning the concept of the “individual.” The assumption that there is an indivisible, unified self, capable of rational cogitation and distinct from all other agents in the universe, is core to a lot of our modern ideas about politics, about fairness and justice, about what it means to be happy and fulfilled.
Yet the more we probe into how the mind works, how consciousness arises, how rational we really are, the more we seem to discover that casts doubt on this foundational assumption. We find that many of our ideals may be reducible to the driving force of individual genes pressing for survival. We find that our mental processes involve such complex chemical pathways that it’s impossible to tell where “the mind” merges into “the environment” and where one mind begins and another ends. We find that our thoughts emerge, messy, inchoate, incipient, from countless cells locked in a complex, chaotic dance—and as the research I cited shows, some of these cells aren’t even “ours.”
I don’t know what any of this really means except that perhaps we should be a little bit less arrogant about our powers of reason, and a little less certain about what we think we know about our selves, our individuality, our separateness from this world and all the creatures in it. – read the full interview.