Tag: clarkesworld

Locus Awards nominations

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Er.
Wow.
Apparently “Immersion” and On a Red Station, Drifting are both finalists for the Locus Awards (best short story and best novella, respectively).
I’m on a freaking shortlist with Ursula Le Guin. *faints*

Congrats to all my fellow nominees, and best of luck to everyone!
(I won’t be at the Awards ceremony, sadly. End of June is way past the time when I’m allowed transatlantic flights, so I’ll be content with cheering everyone on).

In other Red Station news, I can confirm we’re on track for a release of the ebook at the end of May (maybe earlier if I can tackle it before I leave for the US, but not guaranteed). And I have seen the new cover sketches and they are awesome.

Locus (Rich Horton) on “The Weight of a Blessing”

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Aliette de Bodard’s ‘‘The Weight of a Blessing’’ (Clarkesworld, March) tells of a mother’s last visits with her daughter, who is being exiled. The point of the story is the slow revelation of the reason for this exile. The mother is a refugee from a planet torn by civil war. Her culture was trampled, in essence, and she’s made a life on her new planet, married and divorced a local man, tried to fit in. But her daughter has rejected all this and embraced a culture she never knew, and has protested the way the dominant culture of her new planet has, in essence, rewritten history. All this reads to me as a fairly straightforward allegory of Vietnam/US relations, post war. It’s well done and challenging, but despite the offworld setting and some technology that allows speaking with a version of dead ancestors, I wasn’t excited, science-fictionally. Still, one can’t deny its engagement with important contemporary issues.

Uh. Interesting. I didn’t see the main point of the story being the revelation of the reason for the exile (which is pretty self-evident about halfway through, I think? For me, it’s quintessentially a story about ancestors and memory and what memories mean and how they’re passed on), but I suppose everyone takes something different away from a story :)

Author’s notes: The Weight of a Blessing

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“The Weight of a Blessing” is one of those stories that took me a long time to write–by my standards, that is. I first had the idea for it around August or so, walking around in Brittany with the H; I wanted to do something about “refugees and virtual realities”.

(spoilers after the cut, please read the story first!)
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Sale: “Weight of a Blessing” to Clarkesworld

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And because good news obviously don’t come alone… Please to announce that I’ve sold my Xuya story “The Weight of a Blessing” to Clarkesworld. I started this while on the Rainy Writers’ Workshop in Brittany, and had a long… reflexion period to basically come to the conclusion I needed to take a baseball bat to my existing scenes and change the existing structure to better reflect the plot arc. This is part of my “Vietnamese in space” series with the Rong people (the same as in “Immersion”). It’s also, er, a somewhat angry story about colonialism, cultural legacies and virtual realities. Should be in the March issue of Clarkesworld.

Many thanks to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Tricia Sullivan, and the WIB writers’ groups (Dario Ciriello, Traci Morganfield, Juliette Wade, Keyan Bowes, Genevieve Williams) for their sharp eyes and wonderful advice.

Snippet:

On her third visit to Sarah—on the last occasion that she sees her daughter, even if it is only in V-space—Minh Ha says nothing. There are no words left, no message of comfort that she could give her.

Instead, she takes Sarah’s hand, holds it tight until the last of the warmth has leached from her body into her daughter’s—and braces herself for the future.

#

Even in the visitors’ V-space, Sarah looked awful—thin and wasted and so ethereal that Minh Ha wanted to take her daughter home and ply her with rich dish after rich dish to bring some fat back on her bones. But, of course, it was too late for that—had been too late ever since the much publicised arrest and the even more publicised trial, all the grandstanding that had brought a taste of bile in Minh Ha’s throat.

Your obligatory awards eligibility post

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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)

Erm…

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Remember when I said selling two different stories to two different Year’s Best was a first for me? I spoke a little too soon…

Sean Wallace just let me know that Rich Horton wants to reprint “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” and “Heaven Under Earth” in his Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2013. That’s four freaking different stories to three different Year’s Best anthologies…

*faints*

If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll be off to do some massive squeeing….

Author’s Notes for “Immersion”

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“Immersion”, like many stories, grew out of conversations–specifically with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and several other Asian bloggers/writers such as @requireshate, JY Yang, J Damask/Joyce Chng, @automathic and Zen Cho.
I wanted to write a story about cultural domination; about how the cultural norms from the dominant culture also infect the non-dominant ones; about how globalisation and its products don’t necessarily make the world smaller and communications between cultures easier, but tend to foster a harmful atmosphere in which one culture or subset of cultures (US/Europe, to be specific) takes over the existing ones and remakes everything in its image. That the takeover is subtle, not done by guns but rather through commerce and the diffusion of media, doesn’t make it less visible or excusable: not all wars are waged with weapons and violence; and the more subtle and insidious version of cultural colonisation that’s currently going on in the world is a phenomenon with obvious and damaging impact (and also includes Western tourism in developing countries, which is often intensely problematic and fraught with coloniser attitudes).

The story is also very obviously based on our trip in Vietnam and my rants at the guidebooks which distill a culture in an outsider, monolithic (and many times wildly inaccurate) version: the immersers from Galactic to Rong are guidebooks V2.0. I also imagined their counterpart from Rong to Galactic, something that would make it clear that unbalanced cultural exchanges could lead to severe cultural distortion, as well as rejection of one’s home culture–a phenomenon that’s not always harmful, but is taken to its extreme in Agnes. I also tried to tackle how damaging the imposition of languages and standards of beauty could become, though through lack of space I had to go for a fairly caricatural version of it.

(mild spoilers, plus somewhat long rambles)
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“Immersion” published in Clarkesworld

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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

A few upcoming publications, and a reminder

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A few cool news: first, I’ve put together an ebook sampler for my fiction. The idea isn’t to do a short story collection (or even to make money!), but simply to allow people to discover my stuff by browsing through their Kindles and other reading devices. The thing is called Scattered Among Strange Worlds, and regroups my Clarkesworld Chinese/Vietnamese diaspora in space story “Scattered Across the River of Heaven” and my IGMS apocalyptic mermaid tale “Exodus Tides”. Due to exclusivities, etc., it will be available end of July (or possibly a bit later if I have to fight to upload a book on amazon…). Price should be the lowest I’m allowed to set, so 99 cents?

The cover and ebook design is by the ultra amazing Patrick Samphire, who recently launched his own ebook cover and ebook design business over at 50secondsnorth. He blogs about the design and the choices he had to make here, on his blog.

Isn’t it fabulous? Many thanks to Patrick, who’s got a very sharp eye for what works for books covers, and does absolutely freaking gorgeous stuff (and his rates are pretty darn affordable, too). You know you want an ebook this summer :-D

Also, my Chinese-y story “Under Heaven” will be available in Electric Velocipede issue 24, in which I share a TOC with Ken Liu (then again, who doesn’t share a TOC with the ever-prolific Ken? :) ) and Ann Leckie. You can find the full list of stories here, and their publication date should be available soon.

Finally, I’ve sold my short story “Ship’s Brother”, set in the Xuya continuity, to Interzone for their next or after-next issue. Featuring a ship named after a fairytale character (Mị Nương, aka The Fisherman’s Song. If you’re read the fairytale, you’ll know why). Many thanks to Chris Kastensmidt and the ever-awesome Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for reading it and offering very cogent suggestions!

Snippet:

You never liked your sister.

I know you tried your best; that you would stay awake at night thinking on filial piety and family duty; praying to your ancestors and the bodhisattva Quan Am to find strength; but that it would always come back to that core of dark thoughts within you, that fundamental fright you carried with you like a yin shadow in your heart.

I know, of course, where it started. I took you to the ship–because I had no choice, because Khi Phach was away on some merchant trip to the Twenty-Third Planet–because you were a quiet and well-behaved son, and the birth-master would have attendants to take care of you. You had just turned eight–had stayed up all night for Tet, and shaken your head at your uncles’ red envelopes, telling me you were no longer a child and didn’t need money for toys and sweets.

In other news, packing for Romania in a bit of a panic. More later, but a small reminder you can find me in Bucharest Friday 17:00, at the Calderon Cultural Center, 39, Jean-Louis Calderon Street, sector 2, for the Society of Romanian Science Fiction’s ProspectArt meeting. I’ll be interviewed by the tireless Cristian Tamas, and will read from “Immersion”, a full two weeks before it’s published in Clarkesworld!