Thursday, January 12, 2017

New review!

My first publication of 2017 is a review of Arrival, directed by Denis Villenevue, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker! I had the opportunity to catch an early screening at UC San Diego, which also included a reception with the author of the original story that the screenplay is based on, Ted Chiang! 

I refrained from getting too personal in my review, but I watched it at a time when I was really depressed, about ready to quit my PhD, and just overwhelmed generally. It's uplifting not only for its optimistic ending when nations come together in a unified purpose, but also for its echoes from the novella, that there is a future to create, a chronology to act upon. It's cheering, even a little, to think that there is a future, and one doesn't know just yet what's at the end of it, what is the sum amount of happiness to be gained. And that even the upcoming unhappiness is maybe worth it.

I want my curiosity to find out how it all really shakes out to get the better of my depression.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Old Fiction: "The Changeling"

As I publish more, it's been fun to look back on my old fiction to see what I used to do that I don't anymore, what concerned me then and how that has changed. So I thought I'd post some old old and possibly terribly embarrassing fiction over time.

Today's story is "The Changeling," inspired by Asimovian robots and the question of humanity and sentience in artificial intelligence. Further ruminations on the story afterwards.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Publications of 2016

So I guess this is the time of year that we tally up what we have published over the year. And, despite how rotten the year has been going, I think this is my personal best in terms of what I managed to get published! Now if only that translated into academic publishing, too. 

Poetry:

"Sweetness and Light" was published in the inaugral issue of recompose magazine! It is a poem about a young woman who literally spews forth sweetness and light when she speaks, and her sense of degradation when other people feel entitled to her. It is 50 lines, so eligible for Best Long Poem Rhysling. 

Short fiction:

"Anak Sungai" was published in Truancy, a little story about a river meeting various forest animals as she goes out to sea. There is one animal she wants to find but he is a tricky one. 

"Crocodile Tears" was published in Lightspeed Magazine, a retelling of two Malaysian folktales: one of Si Tenggang, the faithless son, and the other tale explaining why a river is free of crocodiles. This was my second pro sale!

"Mana Langkah Pelangi Terakhir? (Where is the Rainbow's Last Step?)" was published in Interfictions, thanks to guest editors Sam J. Miller ande Carmen Machado. A journalist following a lede for the miraculous things that happen finds a long-lost local celebrity. This was my third pro sale and I am now SFWA-eligible as a result! 

"A Name to Ashes" is in the anthology Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. It draws on the coolie trade in Cuba for inspiration. It was possibly the hardest to research and write, emotionally. If you want to consider this for something, try to buy the anthology! But if you can't for whatever reason, email me and I'll get the story to you. 

Non-fiction:

I reviewed Everfair by Nisi Shawl for Strange Horizons! Most of my non-fiction energy has been going towards my academic writing, though.

I presented a paper on feminist utopias at the Inaugral Utopian and Science Fiction Studies Conference organized out of Beijing Normal University.

Editing:

The Sea Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia is now available in Southeast Asia, courtesy of Gerakbudaya who bought the rights to publish and distribute it in the region! I'm very happy about this. 

Ongoing:

Writing-wise, in the first few months of the year, I re-wrote a dissertation chapter and a new chapter in a single quarter, and a third chapter in the spring quarter. I am now currently struggling to write the last chapter, so I can be on schedule to graduate in spring 2017. It is very hard, because it is a departure from the critique I've been making throughout the rest of the dissertation into something optimistic, and I've not really been in the mood for optimism. 

I also attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop in summer this year, in which I produced six short story drafts. I've already sold one, and have another one I'm fairly happy with. Clarion gave me a chance to be in a writing-intensive space for several weeks, bouncing off ideas from incredible people. It was also my first opportunity in collaboration. 

I am editing the WisCon Chronicles Vol. 11. I might have bounced out of my skin when Timmi Duchamp asked me! I've themed it "Trials by Whiteness" and I'm hoping to get a range of pieces that'll provoke conversations about the different viewpoints in the community. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

LosCon 43 panels!

I'm going to be at LosCon43: Starship LosCon! Click for my schedule of panels, and come out to see me! I'll also be tabling for the Eaton Special Collection of UC Riverside. We'll be showing off some of our items, and telling you all about the cool science fiction research that you could be doing with us!

HIDDEN YOUTH release and illustration!

My latest publication is Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History! And the book is officially out November 21, 2016!

My story "A Name to Ashes" will be the second story you'll read in the book, and it has this marvelous illustration by Alice Meichi Li! Alice is a Chinese-American artist based in New York City, and we talked a little about representation over Twitter. I love the illustration so much! Here is the black-and-white version you'll see in the book:

© Alice Meichi Li!
My story is about a young clerk who accompanies the historical Chen Lanpin on what would be known as the Chinese Commission to Cuba of 1874. Excerpts from the results of this report have been translated. I first learned about it when taking a class on race and racism in the United States, in which the professor gave us a transnational view of how slavery and indentured servitude created rifts and alliances between various groups. Our textbook for this segment of the course was Lisa Yun's The Coolie Speaks. I came across the Denise Helly translation, from 1993, through a generous donation by a professor who happened to have it and didn't need it anymore. (It is now extremely expensive to buy.)

This is a Hungry Ghost story. I got really tired of how white Westerners portray Hungry Ghost Month (I suppose it is a day these days in most places, but in Malaysia it is, still, culturally speaking, a whole month!!!) and I really wanted to write a story about the coolie trade, which I hadn't known about. The English translation of the report was extremely exhausting to read, because it's mostly a catalog of death and dying. But it's also about naming the people who died, reclaiming them, refusing to let their lives be written over. Many of these coolies were hoping that the commission would send word back to the families of their fallen. Almost all of the names in the story were drawn from actual instances recorded in both these books. You can read more about the story in this post.

I haven't had time to read the rest of the stories yet, but I'm really excited to be in an anthology with P. Djeli Clark! I'm a huge fan of his blog and his pop culture commentary, and his latest short story, "A Dead Djinn in Cairo" is a delight!