REVIEW: “State of Trance” by Chen Qiufan

Review of Chen Qiufan, Josh Stenberg (trans.), “State of Trance”, in Jin Li and Dai Congrong, ed., The Book of Shanghai, (Comma Press, 2020): 147-160 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

The anthology closed with a bang, with this creepy futuristic science fiction story. Told in second-person (not normally my favorite), it quickly drew me in and forced me to wander through Shanghai “on the last day of the Anthropocene” (p. 151), to partake in a “world on the cups of disintegration” (p. 157). What I really enjoyed about this story was that not only was it science fiction in content, it was also science fiction in construction: Parts of the story were automatically generated by AI programmes “trained on deep learning of the author’s style, and […] not thereafter been subject to human editing” (p. 160). Wonderfully bizarre, and an excellent concluding piece.

(Originally published in Fiction World, 2018.)

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