Showing posts from 2019

Some things I've read (from "blossom to impossible blossom")

Some things I’ve read:
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad is a survivor, a writer and public speaker, a human rights activist, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.I read her memoir for a meeting of my local mothers’ group book club, and it is without doubt the toughest book I have ever read. There were many times that I just had to stop, overwhelmed. I cannot overstate the horrors of this book, a personal narrative of the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide, torture, and sexual enslavement of the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq. I cannot overstate the absolute sadism of Nadia Murad’s captors. The evil of this regime. And I cannot overstate Nadia Murad’s heroism, the heroism of the Sunni Muslim family who helped her to escape, the heroism of her family members who survived, and the heroism of every single Yazidi who survived.  Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, in the foreword to this book, writes, “Those who thought they …

Short fiction recs! Feb and March 2019. Also book recs and an essay!

Hmm, I meant to start publishing these short fiction round-ups monthly, but time got away from me (as it often does), and it seems I’m on a bimonthly schedule again. As always, there was way too much good fiction published for any one person to read, and I know that I missed a lot. But here’s a selection of some of what I did read, and love, in February and March.
Stories of Magic, Stories of Horror
“Dustdaughter”by Inda Lauryn in Uncanny
Moonless midnight. She had never heard it described that way, usually her father making the declaration “At least they won’t see the dirt on her too good.” A teacher using her as an example of what you would look like coming out of the Le Brea Tar Pits—when she became the official playground monster. Her mother not going to the school to raise hell against a teacher becoming her child’s bully. “That’s the way it is for girls like us, Dust. Might as well get used to people treating you this way.”
But moonless midnight felt like part of the sky. Like the …

Book review: Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen

All her life, Lee Lien has heard the story: her grandfather once ran a café in Saigon, and one day an American journalist named Rose walked in. Rose was a surprisingly old woman, covering the Vietnam War at a time when few American women were in the country. She and Lee’s grandfather became friends, and Rose left behind a small gold pin. . .
Years later, Lee is an adult who was raised in the American Midwest and now has a Ph.D. in English Literature. She’s also jobless, so has returned to her mother’s house in the Chicago suburbs to work at the family’s Vietnamese café. Restless and wilting under family tensions, Lee one day remembers the gold pin left behind by the mysterious Rose. And Lee remembers that the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder was a journalist named Rose, who covered the Vietnam War in her old age. . .
This novel is part literary mystery, part family drama; it’s a look at the second-generation Asian-American immigrant experience through a fresh and surprising lens. I lov…

Quote: Books as windows, sliding glass doors, as mirrors

I’ve heard this analogy many times: that books are both windows and mirrors. But I didn’t know the originator of this analogy until now. 
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.”
--Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990. From Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Class room, 6(3),

Podcast Interview! Talking about the science of "Traces of Us" with Full Worlds.

Last week I sat down for my first podcast interview. And now it’s live! You can click here, in order to hear me on Hampus Jakobsson’s podcast, Full Worlds. 
Hampus and I discuss the science behind the “mind-uploading” scenario in my science fiction story, “Traces of Us” (first published in GigaNotoSaurus in 2018, and soon to be reprinted in Best Science Fiction of the Year-Volume 4, edited by Neil Clarke). I had a lot of fun discussing the science and ethical implications of this story! And as a bonus for listening--if you click on the link to the podcast, you’ll also see a link to a Gumroad discount for my fantasy novelette, The Lilies of Dawn(a very different type of story. And thanks to my publisher Annorlunda Books for providing the promotional discount!)
P.S. The sound of my own voice makes me cringe, so I haven’t been able to listen to this recording yet. But hopefully the rest of you won’t have that problem!

New story! "The Message" out at The Future FIre

It’s a new story day for me! “The Message” is now out in the latest issue of The Future Fire. It’s a quiet story of First Contact, of communication (and missed communication) both between the stars and here on Earth. It’s also about anime and fan-fiction, and the accompanying illustrations by Pear Nuallak are perfect; I am in utter love.

This also happens to be my fourth appearance in The Future Fire! This lovely magazine has helped to launch the careers of now well-known writers and continues to be an encouraging place for new and emerging writers in the science fiction/fantasy scene. This looks to be a particularly strong issue; I’m acquainted with the work of a number of my fellow writers in this issue, and I look forward to getting to know the work of the others. And the illustrations are all wonderfully evocative. 

Update #1: I've read the entire issue of The Future Fire, and it is indeed a strong one. The editors have done an absolutely lovely job of curating stories and poems…

Short fiction recs! January 2019

For a few years, now, I’ve been writing up these short story round-ups on a bi-monthly basis. But of late, there’s been so much good stuff coming out that summarizing two months’ worth of great fiction at a time is overwhelming. So, I’ve decided to try a monthly format. . . and, of course, I still found myself behind.
But better late than never. Here’s a list of things I read in January—stories dark and brutal, and stories beautiful and hopeful and full of light. Sometimes all of those at once. 
“Red” by Malinda Lo at Foreshadow Magazine
A retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” as you’ve never seen it before. Set in China during the Cultural Revolution, this is an incredibly dark, brutal tale in which real-world violence stands in for the fairy-tale wolf. Yet at the end, despite horror, there’s a kind of triumph as well.
Burrowing Machines” by Sara Saab at The Dark
There was a strange agitation to London that summer from the very beginning, a hormonal moodiness, a belly heat, if cities co…

Book review: Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra

Note: This review is based on an advance review copy obtained from the author. 
Markswoman, Rati Mehtrotra’s debut novel, introduced a unique world, a post-apocalyptic fantasy-Asia that was a bewitching blend of science fiction and fantasy. In the aftermath of a distant Great War, five Orders keep peace among the numerous clans of Asiana—Orders of warriors telepathically bonded with their magical knives, which are made of a metal called kalishium left behind by a mysterious alien race. But the outlaw Kai Tau threatens Asiana’s peace; he has stolen terrible dark weapons—guns made of kalishium. Kai Tau has raised an army and means to destroy the Orders and take Asiana for himself.
The first book was a strong debut, with engaging characters and a fast-paced, twisty plot. The sequel, Mahimata, is even better.
Mehrotra carefully set up her game pieces in Markswoman. Now the game begins in earnest, and the plot flies. There are twists and turns, and revelations within revelations. There is a m…

Story reprint sale! To the anthology, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 4!!!

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, “Traces of Us,” will be reprinted in The Best Science Fiction of the Year—Volume 4, edited by Neil Clarke.
Neil Clarke, the founder and editor of Clarkesworldand editor of multiple anthologies, is an absolute force in the science fiction field. I’m so honored that, of all the stories published in 2018, he chose my story as among the best. And I’m so honored and thrilled to be appearing in this volume alongside so many of writing heroes, stars like Ken Liu, Aliette de Bodard, Sofia Samatar, Lavie Tidhar, Alyssa Wong, and more.

Click on this link to see the full table of contents and links for pre-ordering. It won’t be out until July, but I just had to share this now.

December 2018 Short Fiction Recs

Toward the end of 2018, a wealth of new magazine issues and stories were released. I couldn’t possibly keep up with it all (hello, I still haven’t even looked at the December issue of Anathema yet), but here’s some of what I did read and love.
Bracken Magazine I’ve found Bracken Magazine a delight since its first issue. The latest issue features two lovely, magical stories, as well as gorgeous poetry and art.
“Garden of Grudges” by Gwendolyn Kiste
This is the story of a bitter woman whose grudges grow from the ground, tainting the harvest. And it’s the story of the children affected by her, and of what her oldest daughter must do to save them all. This story is both dreamy and sharp, magical and oh-so-real in emotional terms. Exquisitely written and painfully incisive—one of my favorite yet from this talented writer.
“Ocean” by Su-yee Lin
Another dreamy tale of a mother and daughter. The narrator hears the ocean, even though there is no ocean in the middle of Shanghai. As she seeks it ou…