China Mountain Zhang

Maureen F. McHugh
China Mountain Zhang Cover

Character-Driven Slice-of-Life Novel


China Mountain Zhang is a study of a few characters in a future society, and so it carries very little external conflict, but quite a lot of internal. Most of the stories portray events that are of personal significance to the characters experiencing them. The chapters alternate between the lead character Zhang and others that he encounters throughout his daily life, and each chapter could probably stand alone as a short story.

Zhang is an intriguing character, mentally isolated by his racial heritage and sexuality and conflicted by his desire for a better life and his desire to hide in the cracks of society. The other characters are fascinating as well, and their stories echo some of the themes of explored in the stories from Zhang’s life.

The political and social structure of the world—with colonies on Mars and the ascendancy of China—are not unique in science fiction, though they are portrayed very convincingly. The technology was also interesting, and the technological advances seemed to fit naturally in the imagined communities. Overall, China Mountain Zhang was a very impressive book, both as a first novel and as a novel in general.

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