Silver, Magic, and Clipper Ships: The Power of ‘Babel’

I fell head-over-heels for the novel “Babel,” by Rebecca F. Kuang. It’s a deeply imagined work that’s been a №1 New York Times bestseller. And it just picked up a Nebula, the prestigious award bestowed by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (of which I am a proud member). At the core of the tale is a Chinese orphan who goes by the name Robin Swift. For reasons that seem mysterious at the time, he’s whisked out of an impoverished life in Canton in 1828 by a very strict professor, Richard Lovell.