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Reading list: The nine imaginative fiction books shortlisted for Ursula K Le Guin Prize for Fiction


After the Dragons, Cynthia Zhang

Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain. Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. As drought plagues the aquatic creatures, a mysterious disease–shaolong, or “burnt lung”, afflicts the city’s residents.

Jaded college student Xiang Kaifei scours Beijing streets for abandoned dragons, distracting himself from his diagnosis. Elijah Ahmed, a biracial American medical researcher, is drawn to Beijing by the memory of his grandmother and her death by shaolong. With the resources of Kai’s dragon rescue and Eli’s immunology research, can the pair find a cure for shaolong and safety for the dragons?

After the Dragons presents hope for tenderness and care in a time where the ill-effects of climate change reigns supreme.

Appleseed, Matt Bell

In 18th-century Ohio, two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they remake the wilderness in their own image, planning for a future of settlement and civilisation, the long-held bonds and secrets between the two will be tested, fractured, and broken–and possibly healed.

Fifty years from now, in the second half of the 21st-century, climate change has…

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