New to Chung Kuo?


I’m assuming that if you’re new to Chung Kuo, you’ve just read or picked up Son of Heaven, the first book of the series. If not, that’s definitely where you should start.

The Chung Kuo series actually has a long history, dating back to the late 80s, when the series was first published. Back then, the series was comprised of eight volumes. Chung Kuo met with tremendous critical acclaim, but perhaps not as much commercial success as one might hope. Eventually it dropped out of publication, and some of the books (especially nearing the end of the series) became difficult to find.

Much to the delight of old fans, the series was picked up by Corvus for re-publication to begin in 2011. The to-be-re-published series was completely reworked by Wingrove, including being recast into 20 volumes (including two volumes of all new prequel material, the first of which was Son of Heaven). Unfortunately, the delight was short-lived. After releasing the first eight volumes of the re-worked series, Corvus cancelled the series in 2014.

After what I understand to have been a long and arduous battle, David Wingrove negotiated for the rights to the series to be transferred back to himself, enabling him to publish the series himself under the new imprint Fragile Books, a joint venture with his wife, writer Susan Oudot. As of now, the first ten volumes – half the series – have been released.

Back when Corvus announced its re-release, I decided to start this page as a place to post Chung Kuo news, reflections, and related material, as well as provide a space for fans of the series to interact. In no way is this site meant to compete with the David Wingrove’s official site or that of Fragile Books.  In fact, series author David Wingrove has been extraordinarily generous in providing the fans with updates and material hosted on this site.

As for the sections of this site, entries in The Vault contain classic pieces related to Chung Kuo, generally journal entries or public talks given by David Wingrove, with a few other gems thrown in. This section has been pieced together from old websites and things David has sent along.

In the Goodies section, you’ll find tidbits from Wingrove, often political commentary on real-life China or updates about publishing and writing. These are great reads, but aren’t so substantially influential on the inner workings of the Chung Kuo series that they belong in The Vault.

Some fans are also working on The Chung Kuo Wiki, hosted at Wikia, which we hope will evolve into an encyclopedic knowledge base for all things related to the series. It’s open to all those who are interested in contributing. A word of warning, though: if you’re new to the series, the Wiki will contain series spoilers at every turn!

In addition to Chung Kuo, this site also covers David Wingrove’s other series: Myst and Roads to Moscow, both of which I highly recommend. Lastly, I have an intermittently-updated Twitter account for this endeavor: @ofgiftsandstones.

Again, welcome to this fan page, and welcome the world of Chung Kuo. You’re in for a long and wonderful journey.

8 thoughts on “New to Chung Kuo?”

  1. I have the two new prequels. Is the third book in the new series exactly the same as the original Middle Kingdom book? I read the first five of the original books, is there more new material in the new sequence of books?

    1. I don’t have my copy of the original to compare side by side, but from what I remember the majority of things are the same. The only thing I think that has changed is he has gone through and tweeked some of the wording here and there which makes it a slightly easier read than the original. Personally, I think it is worth it. Plus, we don’t know exactly when the real new content will start being added and where that point will match up with the original series. So, I think it is definitely worth picking up the new books so that the flow of the whole series doesn’t need to be interrupted by switching back and forth between the old and new editions.

      But all of that aside, the new editions are only about $10-15 per volume. That seems like a small price to pay to ensure that the sales are strong enough that the series doesn’t get canceled again. Fool me once, fool me twice.

    1. In the short term, it is unfortunately true. The publisher has decided to stop publishing the Chung Kuo series.

      However, David has said that he still plans to finish the series. It us unclear exactly how it will be distributed. He plans to ramp up on the remaining Chung Kuo books as soon as his work on the Roads to Moscow trilogy begins to wind down.

      There are also a number of other projects that he has been working on, including 3 he hopes to get into print in 2015: Imagine a Man, The Wounded, and The Beast With Two Backs.

      We should be seeing David release a new website some time in the (hopefully) not too distant future. It has been almost 3 months since the last update.

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