Tag: immersion

Sale: Immersion to Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year

- 2 comments

Year's Best cover Very pleased to announce that “Immersion” will be reprinted in Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Seven. I spy familiar names in that TOC, including Karin Tidbeck and Ken Liu.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over there squeeing…

Author’s Notes for “Immersion”

- 5 comments

“Immersion”, like many stories, grew out of conversations–specifically with Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and several other Asian bloggers/writers.
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)
Continue reading →

“Immersion” published in Clarkesworld

- 4 comments

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” 😀 😀

Villa Diodati 10 report

- 2 comments

So, Villa Diodati turned five this year, and we had our tenth workshop in Southern England, courtesy of Stephen Gaskell. Wow. It doesn’t certainly feel like five years, but it’s been an awesome set of meeting points–like Ruth said, in many ways we’ve become each other’s support network and writerly family.

Participants this time were John Olsen, Sylvia Spruck Wigley, Ruth Nestvold, Nancy Fulda, Stephen Gaskell and Floris M Kleijne.

As usual, I’d taken an early train, though I hadn’t realised that I’d have to get up at 5:00am in order to catch it (prompting the new “zombie shuffle” twitter status–it turned out Steve and a couple other people had also got an early start). I arrived very early in Brighton, which means Steve and I had a chance to catch up in a bar by the beach (which was awesome. Bit colder than Brittany, but sand and sea and seagulls? Brings me right back to my childhood). Then we picked up Floris, and headed to the house to wait for the others–who trickled in throughout the afternoon.

I had, er, enthusiastically volunteered for cooking the Friday night; and discovered, not so enthusiastically, that the house had no cooking equipment. By which I meant, no spatulas, and no decent saucepans or frying pans that could conceivably be used for 7 people. I had to improvise quite a bit–thank God Floris was there to calm my panic attacks. My new resolution, by the way, is that next time I travel to a VD and propose to cook, I’ll pack chopsticks in my bag.
Still, it mostly went well, and the banana coconut pudding had its usual striking success (even though I screwed up the coconut cream preparation by misreading the packet Steve had bought for me).
Other stuff we ate at VD included Nancy’s homemade pizza, yum, Sylvia’s chocolate caramel cookies, and Steve’s lasagna with cheese, spinach and pine seeds (mmmmmmm, creaminess). As mentioned before, it’s a cooking and writing workshop!

The house was very nice, located by a fishing pond (which had plenty of geese), and with plenty of walks available a short distance from the house. That it was also quite near Gatwick was a definite plus.

Like Ruth says, this was easily the most productive VD we had: in addition to the crit circles in the morning, we had work sessions in the afternoon, where we’d tell our goal for the 2 hours, and come back and report on what we’d done. I managed to return almost all my OWW crits of “The Two Sisters in Exile”, and edit the draft for submission. And edit my outline for the urban fantasy. Phew.

We also had the submission party, which was awesome–we sat around a table and sent things out (I didn’t have much to send out, so I stuck to a query for something), a total of thirty queries and subs were sent out, and we got our first acceptance before the workshop was over!

I headed back on the Tuesday afternoon, spent some time at the airport with Nancy where we talked ebook covers and marketing, and then got my train back to London and my Eurostar (and 500g of cheddar. Yes, I bring back souvenirs from abroad. Grand family tradition: food is the best kind of souvenir, because it gets eaten and doesn’t clutter the house).

As usual when coming back from a VD, I then had the zombie shuffle, accompanied by a desperate need to sleep, because I had a wedding on the following weekend. Not much productivity; though I did set a world record by selling “Immersion” a scant few weeks after the workshop was over!

That’s all from me. Happy five years, Villa Diodati–you’ve been awesome so far, and I have no doubt there’s more in store.

Sale: “Immersion” to Clarkesworld

- 4 comments

OK, now that I’ve done the edits… Pleased to announce I’ve sold my Villa Diodati story “Immersion” to Clarkesworld for their June issue. It’s… er… my rant against globalisation, beauty standards and the uses and abuses of tourism and expatriation in non-Western countries. Also, it has a plot that centres around a Vietnamese restaurant and a dish of lemongrass chicken 🙂

Thanks go to the Villa Diodati crew (Ruth Nestvold, Sylvia Spruck Wigley, Floris M Kleijne, Stephen Gaskell, John Olsen, Nancy Fulda); to Glen Mehn for volunteering to read it even after I told him it was unkind to White males; and, above and always, to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for inspiring this and so many other things in my life.

Snippet:

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.

(also, wow. Remain very very amazed at Clarkesworld’s response times. I think Neil is a robot)