In this Genre For All spotlight, I’d like to wish a hearty welcome to Julia, one of our pals over at Tor, who’s come to talk about Cixin Liu’s TO HOLD UP THE SKY (on sale today!) + a special offer for librarians.

Educators save the world.

You know it. I know it. Cixin Liu knows it. You may know him as the author of THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM Trilogy (beloved by SF readers and former presidents alike), but his short fiction is just as compelling. His new collection, TO HOLD UP THE SKY, begins with a short story, The Village Teacher, that reads like a love letter to educators all over the world.

In The Village Teacher, Liu lovingly illustrates the life of a teacher in a Chinese rural community. He gives everything he has to them, using all of his money to buy them supplies, and even fighting villagers to keep them from taking rafters from the students’ lodging. As Liu describes, “he had spent his whole life trying to ignite the flame of science and culture in the children’s hearts, but he knew that, compared to the fog of ignorance and superstition that enshrouded this remote mountain village, it was a feeble flame indeed, like the flame of his candles in the classroom that night.”

This very human story is set against the very un-human story of an alien race determined to end a war with their rival species. To do so, they must destroy planets to keep their enemies from using them to fuel their ships. The aliens don’t want to destroy sentient species, but they only have time to do a quick check of each planet to detect life forms with advanced scientific knowledge. You can imagine how the two stories might intersect, and Liu merges them in a way only a master of both genre fiction and the human experience could. The story reinforces what you already know; that educators move humanity forward in a way that no other force can.

The rest of the stories in the collection are just as insightful and imaginative, but as educators I wanted to make sure you knew about this beautiful and haunting story in particular. It made my eyes well up as I read it, and I am sure you will have the same reaction. For a limited period of time, librarians and educators will still have the chance to request an e-galley for review, even though TO HOLD UP THE SKY goes on sale today. Just use the widget below:

To Hold Up the Sky

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