Posts

Showing posts from 2017

"'M'a fuckin' doctor."

In 2003, my aunt, who hitherto had been my favourite aunty, pulled me aside to tell me about how my mother had complained about my choice of major (English). She said to me, "you cannot write." Not as in "I forbid you to write" but as in "you don't have the talent/knack/skill to write." My mother was very adamant against my discipline of choice. I went to Canada to start my English degree without her blessing--but you really only need the support of the parent with the pursestrings to help, which I had. I flew out of KLIA with my best friend, her parents, and my dad.

In 2010, that supportive parent came to Canada to help me move from Nova Scotia to Ontario, on a three-day road-trip. This was a little after I received my first short story acceptance. My mother, by that time, was resigned to my career choice, and her only feedback was to get a PhD after the Masters since that just seems to be a natural course of action. (I hadn't actually considere…

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 …

Upcoming story! "When the Bough Breaks"

Image
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 ni…

New fiction! "The Last Cheng Beng Gift"

Image
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.

Lightspeed Issue 88 is on sale!

Image
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 r…

Upcoming story! "The Last Cheng Beng Gift"

Today marks the first day of Hungry Ghost Month. On the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, which is September 5 this year, Chinese people, at least in Malaysia and Singapore, will celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival. 

The Hungry Ghost Month is when the gates to the Underworld open, giving the ghosts reprieve for a time to wander the earth, and visit the living. Because ghosts don't eat in the Underworld, they are, as one might expect, hungry, so now is a really good time to feed the supernatural myriad. We will leave food out with our prayers overnight, inviting the ghosts to eat. It's good karma to feed the hungry, whether alive or dead.
It's also a very exciting time! There will be a lot of live shows, and the first row of chairs will be empty to make way for the ghosts so they can watch. Back In The Day the shows used to be traditional Chinese opera; nowadays they can be more contemporary entertainments, like live performances or stripper shows (because, you know, ghosts…

Upcoming fiction in SUNVAULT

Image
Sometime in the summer of 2015, I was tinkering with a story idea and asked my dad, "if you could go back thirty years and remembered everything that happened, what would you do?"

I was thinking something along the lines of, what stock markets would he invest in, or what different career moves would he make. But no, he said something completely different, way more personal, and laughed. Then relented and said he'd pay more attention to my grandparents, his parents, to make sure they didn't suffer declining health as soon as they did. 
My response to this question, and the little exchange we had after, is in my upcoming story "The Reset," in Sunvault: Tales of Solarpunk and Eco-speculation, forthcoming from Upper Rubber Boot Press. The story starts thus:

I drafted "The Reset" in a single day. I had the kernel of an idea from the morning's conversation with my father, and for lunch, I packed my laptop and went to a new-ish cafe near my house. (…

New fiction! "Eruption"

Image
Anathema Magazine #2 is now up, which means my latest short story, "Eruption" is now up and available for reading online! 
I wrote "Eruption" in Week 3 of Clarion, under Andy Duncan. For some reason all the stories that day were somewhat of a similar theme: mine is essentially a misandrist utopia (I call it my #killallmen story); another classmate wrote a misandrist dystopia (in which boys are locked in a giant enclosure for a certain time); and a third wrote a somewhat misogynist attempt to establish a utopia free of women (but in ways that also harmed young men). It was a day
This story combines two ideas I had floating about: the story of a woman slowly succumbing to mental degradation, which surfaces a lot of terrible memories about the founding of her city, and a story of an underground slave people rising up to destroy their oppressors. It is inspired partly by this 1906 illustration by William Balfour Ker and a dream I had:
I've never read the novel t…

Table of Contents--The WisCon Chronicles Vol. 11: Trials by Whiteness

What with stress, depression, anxiety, dissertating, diabetes, and WisCon, I haven't had energy or time to think beyond a day. But getting to WisCon41 was wonderful because it is so life-affirming, even if I managed to do exactly zero panels and spent most of my time either sleeping, walking, eating, socializing, or working on my dissertation in the lobby. Which as it turned out was a good thing. 
Amidst all that, THE WISCON CHRONICLES VOL 11: TRIALS BY WHITENESS was out! I found it first in Room of One's Own, and at the Aqueduct Press table! It's beautiful! It's shiny! It turned out even better than I expected!! And more importantly, IT IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!
Here are my brilliant brilliant contributors!! 
WisCon40 GUEST OF HONOR SPEECHES Nalo Hopkinson Justine Larbalestier Sofia Samatar
OUR IMMEDIATE VICINITY WisCon40 Opening Ceremonies: WisCon is my Family Reunion -- Kat Tanaka Okopnik All Our Relations -- Nisi Shawl Who Is Safe? -- Beth Plutchak Legacy of the Past an…

Appearance: "Science Fiction is For Everyone" Panel

I'll be on a panel to discuss science fiction and multiculturalism next week! Here are the details:
Science Fiction For Everyone: A Multicultural Discussion
Date: April 25, 2017 Time: 2.30pm Venue: Tech 110, Los Angeles Harbor College Moderator: Denise Dumars Panelists: Steven Barnes, SF writer, NAACP award-winner Bryan Thao Worra, Laotian-American writer and president of Science Fiction Poetry Association Gregg Castro, Salinan-Ohlone activist and SF consultant Michael Paul Gonzalez, Dread State co-editor Stephanie Brown, Mills MFA, Clarion 2010 grad
This event is hosted by the Cultural Equity Workshop of the LAHC! I'll have copies of The Sea Is Ours for sale, and should be able to spend some time signing. 
(I'll also be at the campus early-ish, since the kind hostess arranged a ride from Riverside for me. If anybody wants to say hi earlier, take me to a place with good eats, or a quiet place to work, that would be appreciated!)

Poetry: "The Golden Babbler"

Listen! Listen! The shining golden sea
glitters in the far distance; follow the brook
down to where it meets the river rushing
to its ultimate destiny.
If you get lost, listen! listen! to its
gurgling, its warbling, like a thousand
yellow-feathered orioles,
leading you back to its journey.
Greet its rocks washed by its
watery sunshine, and
where it is shallow, watch
the pebbles pushed along,
liquid and solid rubbing
against each other to form
smooth gemstones that clink
downstream in a senseless choir.
Listen! Listen! The golden river runs!

Poetry: Linguistic Bananas

One fine evening, I asked for poetry prompts, and a friend asked me to write a poem about bananas, the linguistic kind. I had to look it up. This was about three years ago, and it's still silly.

Fruit Flies Like A Banana, Part 1: 

“Mine,” snarked the snail.
“No, mine!” cried the slug.
“WE SHALL DESCEND AS A HOARD UPON THIS
AND CLAIM IT AS OUR ANCESTRAL BIRTHRIGHT,”
claimed the fruit flies.

Thus was there a bloody war over the forgotten banana
carelessly thrown under the bush.

Fruit Flies Like A Banana, Part 2:

Whenever they flapped their leaves,
they tried very hard to mimick the grace of the
yellow boomerang swirling in the air,
leaving a smoothie in its wake.

Ah, if only they could be content
with the reality of being far-flung
instead of trying to be what they were
not.

Fruit Flies Like A Banana, Part 3:

But I’m not sure
that this is a good idea;
banana trees may only produce a single bunch
in their lifetimes,
but they also never stop growing and keep
popping up new trees anyway…

ICFA!

I'll be at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts again this year!
I'll be reading on the "Words & Worlds: Poetry I" panel, Thursday, March 23, 10.30am - 12pm, Captiva B!
And then I'll be discussing "The Politics of the Human in N.K. Jemisin's Fiction" on Friday, March 23, 2.30pm - 4pm in the Dogwood! I'll be among really big scholars like John Rieder, who wrote Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction (a key text in helping me shape my dissertation), as well as beloved colleagues like fellow UC Riverside grad Taylor Evans!
Outside of panels you'll likely find me grading in the Marriott lobby, or hunting Pokemon around the lake. I'm very excited to be seeing friends like Kathryn Allan (disability scholar), Emily Jiang (poet!), and K. Tempest Bradford, as well as seeing former Clarion instructors Andy Duncan (and probably also Ted Chiang).

Poetry: "Perhaps Not Happy New Year"

i. The Proper Adjective

perhaps not Happy New Year
try a Furious New Year on for size
try determined new year, try
incandescent glorious righteous, try
full of fight, try
striving for justice, try
screaming to the heavens new year

ii. On Chickens

Chickens are delicious.
Chickens are also delightful creatures.
Unfairly maligned as stupid,
chickens are darling sweethearts that will sit calm in your arms,
clucking soothingly.
Chickens let their chicks find refuge in tender, warm, feathery hugs.
Wouldn't you want that for your children, too?
Be a good chook mom to them
and other chicks, too.

iii. The Moon, The Moon

Lunar New Year springtime sprouts
blossoms burst green shoots yellow pollen
sun glares snow storms maybe gray skies
lunar cycles lunatic songs
counting days by crescents

bright moon dark moon flickering lamplights
2% chance of rapists in the dark
80% chance of hurt at home
100% chance of fuckery in the big house making laws
1000% fed up yesterday last year
1,000,000,000 full moon…

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 g…

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.