Very pleased to announce I’ve sold my story “The Breath of War” to Scott H. Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, for the special science-fantasy month in March. It will be in good company, since contributors include Yoon Ha Lee, Rachel Sobel, and Seth Dickinson, who had couple amazing pieces in BCS and in Clarkesworld last year.
I’ve always loved reading science-fantasy, so it was really nice to be able to write a story in that sub genre. Involves quite a bunch of pregnancy scenes–because obviously we don’t have enough pregnant women in SF!–spaceships, and a rather peculiar form of rock carving, loosely inspired from Vietnamese jade carving and a legend about carving a dragon… Many thanks to Daniel Franklin for assuring me the thing wasn’t irretrievably broken (and for answering in record time).
More info here, including a snippet. Sort of set in the Xuya universe, I guess, though I’m damned if there’s a rational scientific explanation for the happenings on the planet Voc (then again, I’m a writer, I suspect I could always make one up).
The cover art I show is the one for the issue of BCS, a piece called “Sojourn” by Philippine artist Ferdinand Dumago Ladera.
On a more personal level, I go back to work on Monday–part time at first and then almost full-time. It’s probably going to be very weird, as I haven’t been into work since mid-July…
It’s been a while since I had that news, actually, but quite pleased to announce that I’ve sold my novelette “The Frost on Jade Buds” to Ian Whates’ Solaris Rising 3. The book should be out by Loncon 3, and hopefully there’ll be some sort of launch event around then.
“The Frost on Jade Buds” is set in the Xuya universe, in an asteroid belt on the edge of the Dai Viet Empire; and it deals with the aftermath of a terrible war, and the fallout from the powerful weapons employed then. Very loosely inspired by the use of Agent Orange and land mines in the Vietnamese/American war, which are still a problem today.
As usual, many thanks on this one to Ken Liu and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who had fantastic comments to help me straighten out my first draft.
You can read a snippet of the story here.
A classic Maghrebin dish served with semolina. Don’t expect authenticity, I did a mix and match because I didn’t have harissa or ras el hanout in my pantry…
Recipe here, let me know what you think!
Wow, it’s that time of year again (seriously, where did 2013 go?). I didn’t publish a whole lot in 2013: my favourite piece is “The Waiting Stars”, which originally appeared in Athena Andreadis’s and Kay Holt’s The Other Half of the Sky (published in April 2013). It was picked for Gardner Dozois in his Year’s Best, recommended by Ken Liu and Ada Hoffman (and singled out for praise by Rich Horton in his Locus review). It’s my Xuya space opera story, which has killer drones, signal processing and a lot of mindships
You can find it online here, and also in EPUB, MOBI (Kindle) and PDF format (if you need DOC or RTF, drop me a line via the contact form, and I’ll be quite happy to provide a copy. I just am not a big fan of putting Word formats online–too easy to modify them by mistake…). It’s eligible for the Hugos and Nebulas (in the novelette category), and for the BSFA Awards as well.
Now for the less selfish part of this post: the stuff I really liked from last year (a fair warning that a lot of the people involved are acquaintances or friends–that said, I wouldn’t recommend their stories if I didn’t genuinely like them and think them award worthy).
-“Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Clarkesworld December 2013. A woman comes back from the dead to deal with her former spouse. Awesome world building, crunchy thoughts on history and the manipulation of public and private record, and tantalising hints of a larger gender fluid society. I’m jealous.
-”Of Alternate Adventures and Memory” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Clarkesworld December 2013. The son of a former metal woman returns to the city of her birth, and must decide what to do with his inheritance. I was surprised this was a short story, because reading it I thought this was much longer: there’s so much packed into–thoughts on difference, on memory, on what is worth preserving. And as always, gorgeous prose.
-“The Knight of Chains, The Deuce of Stars” by Yoon Ha Lee. OK, so it’s always hard to pick a favourite Yoon Ha Lee story, but this was the one that most blew me away this year. I had the privilege of writing the introduction to the short story collection Conservation of Shadows, and regret that this wasn’t included in it. In a tower that holds all the games in the world, a woman who was once admiral in an unwinnable war comes to defy the Guardian for the ultimate game… Gorgeous prose, sharp observations and great ideas.
-“The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu, Lightspeed Magazine, August 2013. Pretty sure Ken will be on the ballot without my signal boosting, but I really liked this story of an Ancient Chinese litigation master, his relation with the legendary Monkey King, and the suppression and preservation of historical record.
-Boat in Shadows, Crossing by Tori Truslow, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2013. You know that feeling you get when you read a fantasy book? That crunchy feeling that it’s a real place that happens to look nothing like our world? Truslow nails it from the get go. That it’s a story about gender and gender fluidity–and festivals, and gods–only makes it more appealing.
-The Bone Flower Throne, by T.L. Morganfield, Panverse Publishing. T.L. Morganfield brilliantly brings to life Ancient Mexico in Toltec times, in a brilliant retelling of the myth of Quetzalcoatl that focuses on his sister. This reads like Mists of Avalon in Ancient Mexico: I love the focus on women and on what they have to do to survive, and the characters are very strongly drawn (TW for incest though–hardly avoidable as it’s in the original myth…).
Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She’s burst all over the SFF scene this year, with stories in BCS, Clarkesworld and various anthologies, and I really think she deserves a Campbell nomination. Her universes are intricate looks at gender fluidity and gender roles; her prose makes me ultra jealous; and I’m so looking forward to the day when she releases a longer work (I understand there’s a space opera novella in the works, so maybe I don’t have to wait quite so long!). Stories of hers worth reading: I already mentioned “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade”, but if fantasy is more your thing, her “The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate” was absolutely awesome. And her “The Bees Her Heart, the Hives Her Belly” (not available online at the moment, you’ll have to buy Clorkwork Phoenix 4) was a reviewer favourite this year.
Aka the UK worldcon (we went to Interaction back in 2005, back when the H and I started dating–thus starting the tradition of my dragging him to Worldcon!). Have been much looking forward to this one: the H, the snakelet I will be in town, quite probably August 8th-August 18th or thereabouts.
More details as I have them–right now all I have is a terrific dim sum plan :p
A typical kitchen conversation between me and the H (a little bit of context first: we’ve been making biscuit Joconde , a moist sponge cake dough that is used as the basis for many fruit desserts. The recipe we have calls for 3 eggs and 3 egg whites, leaving us with extra egg yolks):
The H: “What can I do with three extra egg yolks?”
Me, googling and perusing a webpage of recipes “Er. Mayonnaise? Aioli? Pasta carbonara? Chocolate mousse?”
The H, paging through our big book of desserts; “Chocolate mousse. Ah no, that’s got cream.”
Me: “You can substitute coconut cream for cream.”
I really should have looked at the recipe before saying this. An hour later and the H is busy mixing eggs and coconut cream, and desperately trying to get the mixture to set.
The H: “Are you positive you can substitute cream and coconut cream?”
Me, getting up and finally looking at the recipe: “Er. Maybe not. And you know that next bit where you beat the cream until it’s solid?”
The H: “Don’t tell me. It doesn’t work with coconut cream.”
Me: “Probably not.”
The H, after another half hour of beating up eggs and coconut creams, staring at a very liquid chocolate mousse. “Hahahaha. Tell you what, I’ll throw it in the freezer.”
And that is how we ended up having chocolate-coconut ice-cream for New Year’s Eve (it does freeze beautiful, actually. The H says he’ll make a note of the recipe for future snakelet consumption).
Keeping this brief…
In 2013, I published a handful of stories (see here for a complete list), and managed to write a couple more. I worked on my novel (but see below why the progress on that got a little interrupted…); attended a couple cons (Eastercon, Nebula Awards and Rencontres de l’Imaginaire).
I won a Nebula Award (for “Immersion”), a Locus Award and was twice finalist for the Hugo, finalist for the Sturgeon and finalist for the Sturgeon Memorial Award.
I got my novelette, “The Waiting Stars”, into Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best.
Also made my first foray into self-publishing with the release of the e-edition of On a Red Station, Drifting. The response to it has been overwhelming; in general, this has been a year to be greatly thankful for–my gratitude goes to everyone who supported me, whether by reading my stuff, promoting my stuff, listening to my (numerous) twitter rants and/or giving me pregnancy/parenthood/writing/misc. advice. Much much appreciated; I’m humbled to have such generous people around me.
And, of course, the major production of the year was the successful (and mostly eventless, though those things are always more eventful than you’d like!) delivery of the snakelet. The side-effects included selling the old place, buying the new place and moving into it–still an ongoing project. My current level of parenthood is “apprentice”, I reckon…
2014 should see publication of a few stories; hopefully work on that %%% novel (I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything longer than a few thousand words lately–we didn’t get the baby model that had long, quiet naps!); and attendance at Worldcon and possibly Nine Worlds (we should be in London August 8th-August 18th).
Hope everyone has a great end of year and a very happy 2014, and see you on the other side!
Aka, yipee, the snakelet let me write! Still no headspace for a novel, though I’m slowly getting back into my research and wrote a whole new scene in my chapter 5 (aka, all Hell breaks loose for one particular character, who really has no luck whatsoever).
Temp title “What the Sea Holds no Sway”. Snippet:
In Bao Lan’s dreams, bots danced: they banked and dipped and turned over the red soil of Mars, moulding the clouds of dust they raised into ephemeral figures–the boy Cuoi and his banyan, the strategist Khong Minh and his crane-feather fan–they whirled and reared, tracing words in the flowing writing of calligraphy masters, poems like the ones hung on doorways for New Year’s Eve, bringing up memories of bygone feasts in a vanished land, in the days before the evacuation…
Sent it off to a couple readers, and meanwhile will go see what the %%% is wrong with our hot water supply…
In case you had any doubt, not much writing is happening–snakelet is a bit of a full time job…
Desultorily planning my novel (I know how to fix my plot problem, I just don’t have the time to tackle the chapter–each time I sit down too write there’s a scream from the bedroom…).