Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sale!

I forgot to mention that Kaleidotrope has said they will take my short story Monkey King, Faerie Queen. Huzzah! Won’t be seeing it till 2015, but I’m very pleased. It’s been hard to sell — I first wrote it in 2010 — but it’s my very favourite of all my short stories. It’s about the time the Monkey King went to the Faerie Court and fucked shit up, because that is how he rolls.

Now to be fair, Sun Wukong was already in a bad mood when he arrived in the Faerie Court.

You don’t know who Sun Wukong is? You’re kidding! You haven’t heard of the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, the one who is Mindful of Emptiness, the Exquisite and Most Satisfactory Prince of the Monkeys, defier of gods and Buddhas alike, scorner of other people’s dignity and personal inspiration to little monkeys everywhere?

One day a stone cracked and he jumped out: that was the miracle that was his birth. His fur is as silken as your favourite shirt and as golden as the midday sun. He has eyes of fire and the biggest ears anyone ever saw on a monkey. And if you want to look up his name in the Book of Life and Death, forget about it, because he went down to Hell and wiped that shit out himself!

I’ll let you know when it comes out in two years’ time ya.

The House of Aunts in audio at PodCastle

PodCastle did a podcast of The House of Aunts! Hooray. You can listen to it, or download it to listen to later, at the link below:

PodCastle 266, Giant Episode: The House of Aunts
Rated R, contains vampires and their extended families.

It is called a Giant Episode because it is 1 hour 37 minutes long. :O

The reader is my talented friend Nina Shaharuddin, who betters the world for a living and does stand-up comedy on the side. She’ll be appearing with the Bright Club at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August, and you should check her out if you are there!

Regency cosplayers, green tea cake with Dog, and a mustachioed King of All Cosmos

I’ve been meaning to make a blog post for a while and just not had the time to get around to it, so this’ll be a fairly variegated one, drawing on the stuff of the past few weeks.

Serendipity

A couple of weekends ago I was finishing up my line-edit of my Regency fantasy of manners, and I walked to Hampstead Heath with Cephas. It was a really pretty day — it’s a really pretty area, and it’s nice to be close enough to escape there when you spend the bulk of your days in the centre of town.

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We visited Keats House, which we’d been meaning to do for a while. (It’s basically just a house, and they’ve filled the rooms with pictures of Keats while also trying to keep it authentic to the period, which makes everything a bit weird because you can’t imagine that he had loads of pictures of himself in his house when he still lived there. Maybe if it was Byron House!

Anyway, if you want to visit a famous person’s house in North London I’d recommend Freud House instead. Once in a while they have a Kaffee und Kuchen tour where they give you Austrian coffee and cake and a tour, and it is delicious. But also Improving!)

After our tour of the interior of Keats House I went to sit on the lawn to work on my book, and while wrangling a particularly knotty sentence I looked up and realised I was surrounded by Regency cosplayers, present for the Keats Festival.

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Here they are demonstrating Georgian music to an interested audience. Being a Philistine in all matters musical, I quietly beredar-ed and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sunny lawn. The house is kind of boh tat, because you have to pay £5 to enter, but the gardens appear to be free and they are very pretty.

Baking triumphs

Today I applied myself to the challenge of making a green tea Swiss roll, and I am inordinately proud of the result. Behold!

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I am a great big ball of vanity. The cake itself is not too difficult — it does involve working with peaky egg whites, but I always figure with this sort of thing that either it will go well and it will rise, or it won’t go that well but the cake will still taste good. (And you can see from the pockets of air in the cake that I mixed my egg whites in with no very skilful hand.) The whipped cream is also easy to do — the recipe tells you to put but 3/4 of a tablespoon of sugar in it, so you worry that it is not sweet enough, but actually the cake is pretty sweet so together they are perfect.

What is hard, and what I worried about when contemplating doing the cake, was the purely mechanical aspect of the roll — getting the cake into that shape without breaking it or turning into a cream monster. But Cooking With Dog helped me!

I don’t know if you know Cooking With Dog? I introduced Cephas to it today and he started LOLing, to my sister’s puzzlement.

“It’s just a normal cooking show,” she said. “I watch it to see the cooking. I wouldn’t link it to my friends, it’s not funny. The dog isn’t even doing anything.”

“How can you say he’s not doing anything?” I said severely. “The dog is hosting.”

Dog was very helpful with my Swiss roll mechanics today! Thank you, Francis.

Recommendations

I started following Singaporean writer Alfian Sa’at’s Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and feel pretty good about that as a life decision. You can follow his updates even if you’re not friended (it does, alas, require you to have a Facebook account), and it is worth the price of entry if you are at all interested in local literature. His most recent status on pantun and peribahasa (Malay poetry and sayings) referencing apes, monkeys and slow lorises is a good example — my favourite of the ones he lists is:

Seutas rotan ditarik, bergegar hutan belukar, riuh bunyi kera dan lotong

‘A rattan stem is pulled, the forest underbrush shakes, the outburst from the macaques and langurs is deafening’. If someone is guilty of wrongdoing, he or she will receive an earful from friends and relatives.

If they taught Malay literature like this at school I think people would be a lot more interested lor. (Not that I didn’t enjoy Konserto Terakhir, mind you. Surprise almost-incest always jazzes up one’s school reading!)

And a final picture

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Which requires no explanation.

Aliens, Love in Penang and KL 50 years in the future

Aliens: Recent Encounters has been sighted in bookshops! Editor Alex Dally MacFarlane reports. Aliens contains my story The Five Generations of Chang E, which — considering it also features Le Guin, Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee, Lavie Tidhar, Sofia Samatar, Nisi Shawl, etc etc etc — is the least of its attractions. Table of Contents here; info on how to get a copy in Alex’s post.

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I’m delighted that my story Double-Blind will be appearing in Fixi Novo anthology Love in Penang, due out in November. This isn’t a SF or F story, but one of my occasional mundane ones. I secretly envision it as being part of a series of short stories I will do some day, which will be interlinked within a framing narrative about a KL dating agency run by a burnt out businesswoman under the name Janelle Looi (her real name is Janet, but Janet was insufficiently romantic). It would basically be a written romcom set in urban Malaysia! (My first, unlamented drawer-novel about the romance of a crossdressing academic who wins a reality TV beauty pageant was also supposed to be part of this series.)

So far I only have Double-Blind, though:

Swigging her seventh glass of orange vodka, Mei Yi climbed to her feet and announced:

“It is time!”

She was a woman with a flair for the dramatic, who could not ask someone to pass the toothpicks without imbuing her voice with tragedy. Bee had met her when they’d both joined an amateur theatre group. Bee had done so in the grip of a quarter-life crisis and had withdrawn shortly, reassured that the mundane corporate life had been the right choice. Mei Yi remained a leading lady and now did voice-overs for milk powder advertisements.

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I tell you what is SF, though: Futura! This is a collab between indie pulp press Fixi Novo, online mag Poskod.my, and #Word: The Cooler Lumpur Festival, which is a terrible pun and also an arts/media festival taking place this summer. (The programme looks really cool! Sigh, wish I could go.)

Futura brings together six writers and illustrators to imagine Kuala Lumpur 50 years in the future. Two short stories have gone up so far, The Domed City by Angeline Woon (art by Yeoh Yi-Piao) and Lungs by Shivani Sivagurunathan (art by Shahril Nizam). Checks it out!