Lies for Fun and Profit: Ken Liu

You know those people who are just consistently good, in a way you appreciate, and so personable and pleasant that you can’t hate them for it?  Ken Liu’s one of those guys. He also just won a Hugo for best short story, which he deserved. Best of all, he’s a rank liar.  You’ll see what I mean.

Do you still read other people’s fiction?  If so, how do you keep it from unduly influencing your work?

I try very hard to read no fiction at all. Clearly, every right-thinking person would agree that we live in an age of declining literary taste and vacuous fashion. Reading fiction would only fill my brain with second-rate ideas embodied in third-rate execution, leading to fourth-rate fail (or maybe fifth-rate fail, it’s not clear if we’re doing math or just counting).

However, one must still be entertained. I thus choose to only partake of fiction once it’s been transmuted by the magic of Hollywood. In recent years, I’ve noticed that Hollywood has endeavored to work only with pre-existing IP. O happy day! The wise magicians of the great studios pick out the best stories generated by our degenerate times, polish them until the rough edges are gone, and excise all the infelicities of expression and inopportune outcroppings of originality. The result? Beautiful pearls of visual wonder as soft and squishy and tasty and delightful as Peeps.

Everybody likes Peeps.

What’s your favorite fan-interaction moment?

A “fan” offered to pay me ten million dollars a year to never write another word for as long as I shall live.

I immediately took the offer. And I was swimming in a pool of money — I’m sure I can explain the physics of this if you really care — oh my god, the smell of money. I totally got what Gatsby was talking about.

And then of course I woke up, and as explained by Strange Horizons’s “Stories We’ve Seen Too Often”, item 4.a: _It was all a dream._ (http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml)

I’m still hoping that offer will be made for real.

Of which of your fantastic stories are you most proud and why?

The story I’m most proud of is called “You Will Buy This and You Will Love It,” the first in a series of twelve novels that has transformed publishing, speculative fiction, and the aesthetics of our age. (Note that I do not claim such transformations will be for the better.)

I have not yet written this work, of course, and if the offer mentioned in #2 comes through, I may never write it.

Again, <hint hint>.

If you had to pick three books and they were all you could read for the rest of time, which three books would they be?

Oh come on, you’ve made it way too easy.

The first book I’d ask for is a book that consists of the text from all other books that exist in the world. This is clearly allowed by the rules and will solve the problem of having to choose. As you know, keeping options open is the highest and only goal of our adult lives.

The second book I’d ask for is a book that consists of the text from all books that have been lost to history. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe anyone can claim to have had a real liberal arts eduction without having read Plato’s _Hermocrates_ and Sappho’s _Complete Collected Poems_. Also, I’m going to destroy this book after I’ve read it so that no one else will get to see it, thus allowing me to make up whatever I want about its contents.

The third book I’d ask for is a book that consists of the text of all books that have not and can never be written. Yes, yes, you’re right, this will cause an immediate logical paradox, thus freeing me from the conditions of this question. So, I’ll probably refrain from asking for this book until I’ve gone through the other two books.

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