In the Watchful City

In the Watchful City

Anima closes ær eyes and sees the world.

Cut off from the rest of the world by choice, the city of Ora relies on heavy surveillance of its people and surroundings to maintain order. Anima is one of the extrasensory humans tasked with running the city. Even if it means never leaving the Hub, Anima is content with ær job, as it offers ær a direct connection to the Gleaming, a powerful network that spans the globe and connects all things. Then, a mysterious figure named Vessel manages to enter Ora without going through one of the border gates. Se offers Anima the chance to look at ser cabinet of curiosities from around the world in exchange for a memento of ær own. Instead of turning ser in to the authorities, Anima, who has never seen the world outside Ora, accepts Vessel’s offer. But as æ learns the story behind each item, Anima realizes that the rest of the world isn’t like Ora and begins to doubt ær role in enforcing the city’s rules. As events collide, Anima is left with one question that destabilizes everything æ knows: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

In the Watchful City
Photo by Anni Roenkae from Pexels

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Read an excerpt: “As Dark As Hunger”
A City of Surveillance and Wonders: Announcing S. Qiouyi Lu’s Debut Novella In the Watchful City (
In the Watchful City review: An impressive debut filled with folklore (New Scientist)
S. Qiouyi Lu’s In the Watchful City: A Dazzling, Nonbinary Mosaic of Story, Surveillance, and Self (
Starred review from Publishers Weekly
ALA Booklist Review (paywalled)
Our Friend is Here! An Interview with S. Qiouyi Lu, Author of In the Watchful City – On Exploring Diaspora Experiences, Interrogating Gender Constructs and Bio-Cyberpunk (The Quiet Pond)
Culture Beyond Flair: A Conversation with S. Qiouyi Lu (Clarkesworld)
Interview with S. Qiouyi Lu (Civilian Reader)
Five Questions with S. Qiouyi Lu (Breaking the Glass Slipper)
Q&A with S. Qiouyi Lu (Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb)
Exclusive Interview: “In The Watchful City” Author S. Qiouyi Lu (Paul Semel)
Interview with S. Qiouyi Lu, Author of In the Watchful City (GeeklyInc)
City of Night: With In the Watchful City, S. Qiouyi Lu stakes a claim (Alta)
S. Qiouyi Lu and Silvia Moreno-Garcia Talk Neo-Pronouns and Genre-Hopping
(Tor Presents: Voyage Into Genre)
In the Watchful City (New Books Network)
S. Qiouyi Lu on Surveillance Technology, Experimental Narratives, and Neopronouns (New Books Network mirrored on Lithub)
The Brief, Kaleidoscopic Surveillance of “In the Watchful City” (Chicago Review of Books)
The 30 Most Anticipated SFF Books for the Rest of 2021 (
15 LGBTQ Reads for Mid and Late 2021 (Bookriot)
The Most Anticipated Books Of August 2021 (Bustle)
Here Are All The Books Being Released In August 2021 That BuzzFeed Read And Loved (Buzzfeed)
Here’s the August 2021 sci-fi and fantasy book list! (Transfer Orbit by Andrew Liptak)
14 New Books for August (Alta)

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s up with “æ,” “se,” and “e”?

I use neopronouns, or invented, gender-neutral third-person pronouns, throughout In the Watchful City. I am a nonbinary person who uses neopronouns myself, and it was frustrating to not have a lengthy text that uses my own pronouns. So I wrote the book I wanted to see in the world. You can refer to my pronunciation guide for how to say the neopronouns out loud.

Are there any trigger warnings for In the Watchful City?

The novella includes a depiction of a completed suicide. For resources and support on coping with suicide or suicidal ideation, please refer to this international list of suicide hotlines. Additionally, some imagery may be triggering for self-harm survivors, specifically in the stories “A Death Made Manifold” and “As Dark As Hunger.”


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