Thursday, November 30, 2017

Annual Eligibility Post 2017

'Tis the season! 

I was not very prolific in 2017, because I spent a lot of it finishing my dissertation, but I still managed some things!

"Eruption" in Anathema Magazine #2 is a letter of a long-dead woman to her younger brother, who himself is in the twilight of his life, recounting the bloody history of their community. I jokingly refer to it as my #killallmen story but I was inspired by Robert Sapolsky's observations of the Keekorok Babboon Troop. In addressing the very concept of genociding an entire gender in order to start fresh, I also had to think through trauma, from abuse, war, systemic oppression, and how to dramatically transform all of that in a single generation. 

"The Reset" in Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by  Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland, published by Upper Rubber Boot Press is not available for online reading, but if you would like to read it, email me. I considered the consequences of a world that's suddenly "reset" to what it was 30 years ago, mostly to tell the story of a hapless grad student who has a fraught relationship with her parents. It was.... vaguely autobiographical and difficult to write. 

"The Last Cheng Beng Gift" in Lightspeed Magazine #88 is the story of a long-dead Singaporean matriarch (wow two stories about long-dead women) who becomes dissatisfied with the Qingming gifts she receives from her wayward daughter. This was part of a pact to write a fish spa story that I made with Joyce Chng. I think a lot about parental expectations and how sometimes they're a bit like a thousand papercuts, and the scars aren't visible but still hurt later on, and how parents try very hard but still don't get it. It doesn't mean they love their children any less. This one I addressed specifically to an audience of Asian women as the group most likely to "get it," and I feel, based on informal interactions on Twitter, that it got through. It's been really fascinating to see the difference in reception, though...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Upcoming story! "When the Bough Breaks"

Mythic Delirium has just announced their mock cover for their 4.3 issue! The art is by Ruth Sanderson, based on Beth Cato's poem "The Body Made"! 


My short story "When the Bough Breaks" will be available in the January 2018 segment of the web issue. It is based on the Highland Towers collapse of 1993, in my home state of Selangor, Malaysia. This was the first major catastrophe I can remember being widely-televised--Berita Terkini, which usually ran for about 5 minutes every couple of hours, kept popping up on seemingly every single commercial break at this time as more survivors and dead were found. 

In this short story, I tried to evoke the feeling of creepiness that some luxury condos in natural areas have, partly as a result of not being wholly lived in quite yet, partly because wooded areas have landed spirits who are often not happy that humans are moving in! The characters run a gamut of different races and ages. One of the opening scenes is based on a nightmare I had, and in fact the entire theme of the story is drawn from that nightmare. 

I hope you enjoy it when it comes out!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New fiction! "The Last Cheng Beng Gift"

by Alan Bao

It's the day of the Hungry Ghost Festival! I went to the Thien Hau Temple on Sunday with my friend S. Qiouyi Lu and Nilah Magruder. There were monks chanting for most of the holiday weekend. It was also very hot, because there was a heat wave in Southern California (and about 7000 acres were burning near LA). 

Coincidentally, it's also the first Tuesday of the month, which means my Lightspeed Magazine story "The Last Cheng Beng Gift" is now up for free reading!! I also talk about writing the story in the Author Spotlight

Friday, September 1, 2017

Lightspeed Issue 88 is on sale!

The September issue of Lightspeed Magazine is now available for purchase! I'm really excited about it for several reasons. First, the incredible cover by Alan Bao:


It's a smaller version of the illustration he did for my short story, "The Last Cheng Beng Gift"!! It's my first ever story to become the cover story for a magazine, and hopefully it won't be the last! 

Secondly, I share an incredible table of contents... I'm in this issue with stories written by Genevieve Valentine and Tobias S. Buckell (who writes incredibly fun Caribbean space opera!!) and the non-fiction is by some of my favourite fiction writers, Amal El-Mohtar, Theodora Goss, and Joseph Allen Hill!!

Not only that (sub-second-point??), while my story goes live in the first week of September, my Clarion classmate Giovanni de Feo's story, "Ugo" goes live in the last week of September! That's like, a werejelly sandwich!!! Gio read his draft of "Ugo" to me and my roommates out loud, and at the end of his reading, I burst into tears. I'm so excited to be in this issue with him, and with that story, too!! It is a story of time-travel, determinism, the resentment of giving up dreams for some pre-determined narrative, and sacrifice for loved ones. I hope everyone else will recognize how great a writer he is!

Thirdly, it's Issue EIGHTY-EIGHT which is a really really really auspicious number in Chinese numerology!! "Eight" in Cantonese sounds like the word for "prosperity" so whenever people can choose a good number to use (for say, car license plates, or phone numbers), there's sure to be someone claiming some number of 8s in them. 

And finally, my story goes live on the Lightspeed website next Tuesday, Sept 5th, which is the day of the Hungry Ghost Festival itself! It's the fifteenth of the lunar month, which makes it the peak time when ghosts can get out of the Underworld... most people celebrate it around then, although some diaspora communities will caution their children to walk carefully throughout the whole month. I will attempt to attend one of the all-day rituals at the Thien Hau temple in Los Angeles Chinatown this weekend!

You can purchase the issue right now, or wait as the content is released. I will post on the day my story goes live with the full illustration by Alan Bao