In the Watchful City is a sci-fi novella that drew me in with its interesting narrative structure and compelling characters. S. Qiouyi Lu's background in poetry was apparent in the rich prose, and I thought their use of neo-pronouns throughout the book was an interesting addition to the worldbuilding. The book read more like a collection of short stories than a single narrative, so I'd be interested in reading a novel or longer narrative by the author.— Chloe K.
"This masterful work positions Lu among the vanguard of contemporary futurism and speculative fiction."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
In the tradition of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, debut author S. Qiouyi Lu has written a multifaceted story of borders, power, diaspora, and transformation with In the Watchful City.
The city of Ora is watching.
Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora’s citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm.
When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?
“Beautiful prose, a complex structure, and well-wrought Asian-influenced worldbuilding. . . . This masterful work positions Lu among the vanguard of contemporary futurism and speculative fiction.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Lu has built a complex and fascinating world, futuristic and strange.”—Booklist
“For those cyberpunks looking for a beautiful fantasy story, this is a truly amazing novella.”—San Francisco Book Review
“[A] modern myth, echoing the contemporary without commenting on it directly”—4Columns
“Lu has crafted an impressive mythos that draws from the traditions and legends of a variety of cultures.”—New Scientist Magazine
“Stories within stories, possibilities within impossibilities: In the Watchful City is half-tapestry, half-menagerie, adding up to an intricate, transcendent fantasy.”—Chuck Wendig
“An intricately nested cyberpunk story that perfectly represents the best of the genre while exploring entirely new territory.”—Premee Mohamed
“In the Watchful City is piercing and precise, threading grief and joy through your heart as it examines the ties that bind people to one another.”—Andrea Stewart
“A wild, wonderful, dizzying ride I didn't want to end. The worldbuilding is as intricate and intoxicating as the characters are wrenchingly alive. In the Watchful City trumpets the arrival of a major new talent.”—Sam J. Miller