Category: free fiction

Belated sales announcement: the Moon over Red Trees to BCS


Belatedly announcing that I sold my short story “The Moon over Red Trees” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies (yeah, this is a BCS kind of year. Not that I’m complaning. It’s a great market, and, as evidenced by publication of Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Seth Dickinson and Yoon Ha Lee  , Scott H. Andrews has got awesome taste).

It’s a bit of a change for me, as this is a historical fantasy set in colonial Indochina in the beginning of the 20th Century.

Snippet here.

I will now go back to my novel writing being the mother of the snakelet.

Your obligatory awards eligibility post


Dancing lightsSo… that time of the year again when people make eligibility posts :)  I had a busy year in 2012, but out of all the pieces I published I think “Immersion” (Clarkesworld, June 2012)  is the one that had the most visibility: you can read it online here, listen to the podcast by the awesome Kate Baker here, and I’ve made EPUB, MOBIRTF and PDF versions available (the downloadable versions include the lemongrass chicken recipe that is so central to the narration). If you’re a SFWA member, you can find those  in the SFWA forums, here.

It’s eligible for the Hugos, Nebulas, and BSFA Awards, etc. if the fancy takes you.

On a  less selfish note, here’s some stuff that was awesome, and that I intend to nominate this year:

-Short stories: Nghi Vo’s “Tiger Stripes”  (Strange Horizons, May 2012) is a great story of a magical Vietnam where tigers take human shape, and where a widowed mother can develop a poignant relationship with the creature that ate her son.

I’m biased, but Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s “Song of the Body Cartographer” (Philippine Genre Stories, June 2012) is also well worth a look–great imagery, awesome worldbuilding, and the relationship between two very strong women, each with their own specialness.

-Novelettes: the single best thing I read this year is “Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon” (Giganotosaurus Nov. 2012) by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, a wonderful lesbian retelling of Houyi and Chang’e, with crunchy language, bittersweet choices, and always excellent worldbuilding. If SF is more your thing, can I recommend “In the Country of Machine-Gods” (The Future Fire, issue 2012.24), a far-future story about the heroine of a war and her special relationship with her machines and her squad-mates?

-Novellas/Novels: Ken Liu’s novella “All the Flavours” is a great tale of Chinese immigrants in the West; it sometimes lacks a little subtlety, but is a welcome antidote to the clichéd Western depictions of inexorable marches of progress which elude racism.

I don’t have much in this category; and would quite welcome recommendations this year. Bonus points for POCs and/or people beyond the usual Western Anglophone World.

-Campbell Award: it’s Zen Cho‘s second year of eligibility, and I think she deserves wider recognition–she writes awesome fiction that is at once funny, heartbreaking and creepy (see “The House of Aunts” on Giganotosaurus for an exemple of what I mean, or “The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life” for a shorter piece).

(I mistakenly thought Benjanun Sriduangkaew was eligible for the Campbell, but it turns out she’ll only be eligible once her Beneath Ceaseless Skies sale goes live, so quite probably in time for next year. Saving my ammo on this one :p )

-Best Fanzine: The World SF Blog has been making a tremendous effort to showcase writers beyond the Anglophone World, and I think that also deserves recognition.

(Picture credits: bgrimmni on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Generic License)

Reminder: pre-order “On a Red Station, Drifting”


A reminder that pre-orders are open for my limited-edition hardback Xuya novella “On a Red Station, Drifting”, and that you save £3 off the cover price of £10 if you preorder–see here for details, including a sampler scene from the book!
(and if you’re still hesitating, there’s a more detailed review over here by @requireshate)

Preorders open for “On a Red Station, Drifting”


So… remember the Vietnamese-space-station Xuya novella? Pre-orders are now open; and you’ll save £3 from the cover price of £10 if you preorder via the Immersion Press website!

ETA: the ebook is now available here:|||smashwords

Here’s a little snippet from the book to whet your appetite (more info here):

Linh arrived on Prosper Station blown by the winds of war, amidst a ship full of refugees who huddled together, speaking earfully of the invading armies: the war between the rebel lords and the Empire had escalated, and their war-kites had laid waste to entire planets.

Continue reading →

Clarkesworld subscription drive


Just saw on twitter that Clarkesworld owner and editor Neil Clarke has lost his day job, after having a bummer of a year that included a severe heart attack and a hurricane. If you want to support the magazine by taking out a subscription, now would be a great time, and you can do this here. In addition to publishing my short stories “Immersion” and “Scattered Along the River of Heaven”, Clarkesworld also has consistently strong fiction: my favourite pieces include Yoon Ha Lee’s “Ghostweight”, Theodora Goss’s “England under the White Witch”, and Xia Jia’s “A Hundred Ghost Parade Tonight”, among many other fine pieces.

Misc. recs


-Benjamun Sriduangkaew’s “Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon” is a retelling of the myth of the love between the archer god Houyi and the moon goddess Chang’e–except that it makes Houyi a woman and uses the opportunity to poke some pretty sharp points into traditional Chinese family structure. It’s a novella, but it honestly doesn’t feel like it–the two main characters are strongly depicted, and the language is so beautiful and crunchy it just leaves you longing for more. Seriously one of the best stories I’ve read this year.

It is the aftermath of the world’s end, and nine birds–nine suns–lie dead while Houyi cradles the curve of her bow, her fingers locking around the taut hardness of its string. The tenth sun, the last, has fled. Chastise them, Dijun said, a father’s plea. But there is the land and the horror and the dryness, desiccated corpses in empty dust trenches that were rivers not long ago. There are dead dragons, too, and snake women with bright eyes–and is it not right to bring down the suns, is it not what Houyi is meant to do? She is a god who protects; she is a god given a duty.

-Karin Tidbeck’s “Brita’s Holiday Village”: a gentle, dream-like account of a writer’s holiday in an isolated Swedish village and of the people she meets there. Lovely atmosphere and sharp observations.

The cab ride from Åre station to Aunt Brita’s holiday village took about half an hour. I’m renting the cottage on the edge of the village that’s reserved for relatives. The rest are closed for summer. Mum helped me make the reservation—Brita’s her aunt, really, not mine, and they’re pretty close. Yes, I’m thirty-two years old. Yes, I’m terrible at calling people I don’t know.

-Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s first column for Strange Horizons is up, on Identity and the Indigenous Spirit. Everything she says is worth reading and mulling over.

From Tita King, I learned to wade through the dead weight of imposed culture and the acquired prejudice against my own culture. Her passion for our indigenous culture helped me to find freedom in the indigenous self. Looking back, I know I was very lucky.

As the Wheel Turns in Lightspeed Magazine


As the Wheel TurnsAs part of the promotion for the launch of John Joseph Adams’ EPIC anthology (more info here), you can now read my short story “As the Wheel Turns” (associated author interview is here). This is, er, another instance of a time machine story–written well over 4-5 years ago and in a style that I don’t think I could reproduce now, even if I tried. But hey, it got me into an anthology with Ursula Le Guin and Kate Elliott!

In case you’re wondering, I wrote this by drawing on the stories I read/was told as a child–it’s not strictly accurate historical China so much as a fairytale version of it, coupled with my misunderstanding a couple of things because I was very young when I heard said stories (and also the fact that Chinese culture != Vietnamese culture, though they of course share a bunch of common tropes/myths/etc.). But I still have a fondness for the story; it’s not every day you get to write a story with multiple reincarnations of the protagonist. Do tell me what you think of it.

(if you were at WFC, this is the story I read the first third from at the EPIC group reading–I know some people asked me if they could find it elsewhere, and I apologise for completely blanking on the fact that Lightspeed was going to reprint it…)

In the Tenth Court of Hell stands the Wheel of Rebirth.

Its spokes are of red lacquered wood; it creaks as demons pull it, dragging its load of souls back into the world.

And before the Wheel stands the Lady.

Every soul who goes to the Wheel must endure her gaze. Every soul must stop by her, and take from her pale hands the celadon cup, and drink.

The drink is herbs gathered from the surfaces of ponds, tears taken from the eyes of children, scales shed from old, wise dragons. To drink is to forget, for no soul can come back into the world remembering past lives, or the punishments meted out to it within the other Courts of Hell.

No soul.

Save one.

Read more.

“Heaven Under Earth” at Electric Velocipede


My story “Heaven Under Earth” is up at Electric Velocipede:

Husband’s new spouse is brought home in a hovering palanquin decked with red lanterns, its curtains displaying images of mandarin ducks and kingfishers—the symbols of a happy marriage.

First Spouse Liang Pao has gathered the whole household by the high gate, from the stewards to the cooks, from the lower spouses to their valets. He’s standing slightly behind Husband, with his head held high, with pins of platinum holding his immaculate topknot in place—in spite of the fact that he’s been unable to sleep all night. The baby wouldn’t stop kicking within his womb, and the regulators in his blood disgorged a steady stream of yin-humours to calm him down. He’s slightly nauseous, as when he’s had too much rice wine to drink—and he wonders why they never get easier, these carryings.

Check it out here, and tell me what you think.

Author’s notes forthcoming Thursday or Friday, depending how much free time I have.

Electric Velocipede is also having a kickstarter to fund their next year of online fiction, here: if you want to support quirky online fiction, this is the place!

ETA: edited this slightly to save my comments on the story for the author’s notes.

“Immersion” published in Clarkesworld


And you can now read my story “Immersion” at Clarkesworld. This is the rant against globalisation, tourism and cultural imperialism that I wrote in a single sitting (but after 3 weeks of intense reflexion :) )

It’s dedicated to the awesome writer and friend Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, without whom this story wouldn’t have come to be (and I also owe massive thanks to her for suggesting I flesh out Quy a little bit more). Thanks are owed also to Glen Mehn, who volunteered to read it in spite of my warning that it was unkind to white men [1]; and to the Villa Diodati crew: Ruth Nestvold, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Floris M Kleijne, Stephen Gaskell, John Olsen, Nancy Fulda.

It’s, er, another of those ambitious pieces where I’m unsure if I succeeded or fell flat on my face; if you have a minute to read it and comment, I would love feedback on how it strikes you.

In the morning, you’re no longer quite sure who you are.

You stand in front of the mirror—it shifts and trembles, reflecting only what you want to see—eyes that feel too wide, skin that feels too pale, an odd, distant smell wafting from the compartment’s ambient system that is neither incense nor garlic, but something else, something elusive that you once knew.

You’re dressed, already—not on your skin, but outside, where it matters, your avatar sporting blue and black and gold, the stylish clothes of a well-travelled, well-connected woman. For a moment, as you turn away from the mirror, the glass shimmers out of focus; and another woman in a dull silk gown stares back at you: smaller, squatter and in every way diminished—a stranger, a distant memory that has ceased to have any meaning.

Read the rest at Clarkesworld!

The issue also includes fabulous writers E. Catherine Tobler, An Owomoyela, and non-fiction by VD co-conspirator Stephen Gaskell, Daniel Abraham and Jeremy L C Jones. Quite an impressive lineup!

[1] I mean, it does contain the line “their faces an unhealthy shade of pink, like undercooked meat left too long in the sun” :D :D