">Henry Lien

Henry Lien, Author

Great Leap Illustration Flattened

The Great Leap of Shin

An imperial court eunuch devises
a way to prevent earthquake casualties by
organizing an unusual and epic engineering
project to schedule the empire’s impending
great earthquake. A boy from the island
of Pearl, which will be drowned by the
tsunami following the earthquake, is
sent to stop the plan with an unexpected

To read the story for free, click HERE.

This story was published in the
January/February 2015 issue of Analog. It was
reprinted in the anthology People of Color Take
Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination,
edited by Nisi Shawl. It is part of a series of
fantasy stories and novels set in the world
of Pearl. I workshopped this story at Clarion West
Writers’ Workshop under George R. R. Martin. It was
in response to his quoting of Faulkner’s advice
that the only thing worth writing about is the
human heart in conflict with itself. The events of
the story are referenced in my debut novel PEASPROUT CHEN, FUTURE LEGEND OF SKATE AND SWORD. George was extremely supportive of this story, saying, “I loved this idea” and “I completely bought it.”

The illustration was created by Kurt Huggins
for Analog.

[SPOILER AHOY!] One common question I get in response to the story is whether 200 million men jumping could actually rupture a faultline and provoke an earthquake. The answer is almost certainly no, if they jumped only once. That is why the endeavor relies on repeated jumps at the correct rhythm to take advantage of the phenomenon of harmonic reinforcement. For a chilling video of the devastating power of harmonic reinforcement, click here. [EXEUNT SPOILER]

Here is some critical reaction to the story.
Tangent Online, Martha Burns

Here is some reader reaction to the story.
TPI’s Reading Diary
The Well-Rounded Geek (spoilers ahoy)
Faith & Science Fiction Blog
I loved The Great Leap of Shin . . . it was so moving and powerful, the plights of its two protagonists, their desperate attempts to exert agency and make decisions within the constraints of what is honorable. I kept thinking, ‘BOTH OF THEM need to have some kind of victory in the end, but the story seems to make that impossible, since it’s done such a phenomenal job of balancing their rival goals and making it clear that they stand in stark, irreconcilable opposition.’ So that ending . . . was . . . brilliant, and so fresh. . . it made me so happy. – Sam J. Miller