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Explaining the difference between speculative fiction and science fiction can feel like sorting out overlapping nebulae. The main distinction of speculative fiction may be that a story is just barely possible, at a slight remove from reality that veers into the playfully weird. A Japanese author exemplifying this style is Yukiko Motoya, who writes of flying umbrellas and dressing rooms that swallow up shoppers.

To introduce more translated fiction in this genre, the San Francisco-based publisher Two Lines Press has released “That We May Live,” a collection of seven contemporary tales from writers based in Hong Kong and China, themed loosely around urban alienation.

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