1 thought on ““Yuanyuan’s Bubbles,” by Liu Cixin”

  1. I kinda spoiled this story for myself with anticipation.

    It was so clear, right from the start, that we were going towards somehow using bubbles to solve the water problem. And, this may have just been me, or the narrator, but I read the father as a largely unsympathetic character – harsh, disapproving. He’s devoted to a great noble cause, but we don’t see much personal warmth or appreciation towards him.
    Whereas Yuanyuan is colorful, creative, fun-loving, wildly successful.

    So the whole piece, I was anticipating that the story go "Dour father’s noble goal seems hopeless; until his Manic Pixie Girl daughter swoops in to the rescue, using the frivolous passion he’d dismissed for so long."

    Which REALLY bugged me. Because Yuanyuan was so dismissive right back. It felt like a kind of "Responsibility and dedication SUCK; awesome hobbies will solve all our problems!", which I just ugggh no.

    This carried me firmly up to "Baba, I brought you a birthday present!"; everything was right on track.

    And then… it went differently. Yuanyuan is brilliant, but she isn’t the saviour. The father is the one who makes the connection, who turns Yuanyuan’s bubbles to practical use. I am SO MUCH BETTER with that, I have no words.

    I still feel like the story is off-balance, with Yuangyuang as the shiny awesome one and the father as the disapproving adult who may have a cause, but doesn’t seem to have any other redeeming qualities, and even his cause is somewhat suspect. But in the end, it’s a story about cooperation and cross-pollination between to very, very different worldviews, which is nice. And the elements – the science and logistics of water supply and bubbles – are cool, intriguing and build a solid story.

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