By Ken Liu
Ken Liu (born 1976) is a Chinese-American science-fiction writer, poet, lawyer and computer programmer. His short stories have appeared in F&SF, Asimov's, Analog,Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and other magazines, as well as several anthologies, including the Year's Best SF. He is also a translator of science fiction and literary stories from Chinese into English.
His short story "The Paper Menagerie" is the first work of fiction, of any length, to have swept the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. His short story, "Mono no aware" won the 2013 Hugo, and his novella "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary" was also nominated for a Hugo.
Liu's debut novel, The Grace of Kings, released on April 7, 2015.
About Paper Menagerie - About Prizm Share
FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
Ken Liu contributed â€œThe Literomancerâ€ to our Sep/Oct 2010 issue. He returns
with a fantasy thatâ€™s a bit gentler than his previous F&SF story
By Ken Liu
The Paper Menagerie
O NE OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES
starts with me sobbing. I refused to be
soothed no matter what Mom and Dad
Dad gave up and left the bedroom, but Mom took me into the kitchen
and sat me down at the breakfast table.
â€œKan, kan,â€ she said, as she pulled a sheet of wrapping paper from on
top of the fridge. For years, Mom carefully sliced open the wrappings
around Christmas gifts and saved them on top of the fridge in a thick stack.
She set the paper down, plain side facing up, and began to fold it. I
stopped crying and watched her, curious.
She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed,
tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her
cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and
blew into it, like a balloon.
â€œKan,â€ she said. â€œLaohu.â€ She put her hands down on the table and
A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed
THE PAPER MENAGERIE
together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper,
white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.
I reached out to Momâ€™s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced
playfully at my finger. â€œRawrr-sa,â€ it growled, the sound somewhere
between a cat and rustling newspapers.
I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The
paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.
â€œZhe jiao zhÃ¨zhi,â€ Mom said. This is called origami.
I didnâ€™t know this at the time, but Momâ€™s kind was special. She
breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with
her life. This was her magic.
Dad had picked Mom out of a catalog.
One time, when I was in high school, I asked Dad about the details.
He was trying to get me to speak to Mom again.
He had signed up for the introduction service back in the spring