I’m happy to welcome author Helen Huong. Today, Helen shares her debut novel, Nuclear Power Nuclear Game.
The year is 1950. Zoe and John, two young nuclear scientists from Berkeley, seem to have the perfect life, with promising careers and marriage plans. But their innocence is soon shattered when the Chinese Communist Party seizes power. Choosing to postpone the wedding and return back to her home country, Zoe finds herself locked in a political cage and separated from John indefinitely.
Caught in a complex web of revolutionary propaganda and forced to participate in dangerous research, Zoe must confront the looming question of where her true loyalties lie: with her country or with John back in America?
Set during China’s march towards nuclear power amidst the political turmoil of the Cold War, Nuclear Power Nuclear Game spans multiple decades and countries across the globe to tell the story of two nuclear scientists’ fight for world peace and a love torn apart by conflicting ideologies.
The one-room apartment was simple, small for three people but comfortable enough to accommodate daily life. The communal kitchen, shared with five other neighbors, served as a community center where they could work together and socialize. Unlike Little Red, Lanying found the local dialect incomprehensible, but with some guessing, hand gestures, and lots of laughter, she was able to connect with their neighbors. At last Zoe felt she could fulfill her duty as both mother and daughter and pay back everything her parents had given her. She had her own home, a real home, a place where she could laugh and talk freely without fear or intimidation.
“Mama, you look beautiful,” Little Red said through a mouthful of porridge.
“Thank you.” Zoe smiled, smoothing the black-and-white checked skirt. One of the things she loved about her new life was that no one frowned over her choice of clothes. No longer constrained by Chairman Mao and his wife’s dress code, she felt free to indulge her feminine side.
“Can you get home a little early today? I have some questions I need to ask you for one of my assignments.”
“Can it wait until the weekend? Today I’m accompanying the Minister of Energy on an inspection tour, so I’m afraid I’ll be home quite late.” Zoe smiled, amazed at how quickly Little Red had adapted to their new life. At just ten years old, Little Red had become fluent in the local dialect in less than six months and made many friends at school. She was even elected vice-class president. Zoe had never imagined her daughter would be so confident and outgoing.
“OK.” Little Red smiled, proud of her mother’s scientific knowledge and important position at the Institute.
Zoe checked on Lanying, who was still dozing in bed, and then closed the door quietly as she left. After the dim room and crowded kitchen, the brilliant autumn sun in the front courtyard momentarily blinded her. She closed her eyes until her vision adjusted to the light, and then she found her bike propped against the concrete wall. Usually only one gate panel was open, but today both stood wide, creaking as they swung in the morning breeze. She bolted one side, admiring the Western-style façade of her building that reminded her of Berkeley. Lingering, her fingers curled around the bars of the gate as she lost herself in a moment of nostalgia: John’s apartment had the same look, the same filigrees and latticework. John. He would be fifty years old now, a professor if he’d stayed at Berkeley, or perhaps a prominent researcher for some prestigious organization. Maybe he had three or four grown-up children by now; he always said he wanted a big family. Does he still think of me? Or even remember me? she mused. With a short laugh, she dismissed the pointless fantasy. Why would a man like John—a man with a happy family, a beautiful wife, a successful career— think about a stubborn, selfish woman who jilted him almost twenty-five years ago? She had made her choice, and this was her life now. With a deep breath, she repeated the words she’d said so often before: That’s over, move on. Climbing on her bike, she pedaled toward Institute 1970.
Author Bio and Links
Born and raised in Shanghai, Helen Huang now resides in Melbourne, Australia. Nuclear Power Nuclear Game is her first novel, inspired by her own experience living under the Communist regime and working at a nuclear institute in China.
To be a novelist was Helen’s childhood dream. She started writing Nuclear Power Nuclear Game when she was a housewife looking after her four daughters. It took her sixteen years to write, as she raised her children and grew her house design and construction business. Helen hopes to finish a sequel to Nuclear Power Nuclear Game next year.
Helen Huang will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.
Follow Helen on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.