Category Archives: Spirits Abroad

World SF: Åcon 8, Nova Press and other delights

It’s been a world SF-themed couple of days!

Åcon 8

Yesterday Åcon announced that I’m going to be their 2016 Guest of Honour! It is my first Guest of Honour invite ever and I’m thrilled that it’s from such a cool con. Here’s how they describe themselves on their website:

  • The guest of honor is usually a non-best selling but really interesting author
  • The program is a single track with a 50/50 mix of silly and really serious
  • The program is very relaxed, with long pauses between some program items to allow members to sit in the bar or explore Mariehamn (and rest of Åland)
  • Only 100 memberships are sold, then we’re full
  • Everything is in English

I feel I can say without conceit that I am perfect for a convention billing itself as a relaxacon, given my policy on naps. And I am very excited about following in the footsteps of two of my favourite living SFF authors, Karen Lord and Geoff Ryman, among others. \o/ And I have already done a sterling job by introducing Teresa Teng to one of the conrunners. HAHA.

Nova Press

I backed the Nova Press fundraiser! Israeli editor Didi Chanoch is fundraising for a press to translate new and upcoming SFF into Hebrew and he’s already got an exciting list, including Wesley Chu’s The Lives of Tao and Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead. Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a stretch goal! You should go back it too.

Other stuff

Today I received my first royalty report from Fixi involving royalties being paid to me! \o/ As I suspected before, the trend of SPIRITS ABROAD selling far more copies within Malaysia than outside it continues. No credit to me, it’s because Fixi is so good at making people want to take Instagram pictures of read Malaysian books.

And as I signed the contract today, I should probably announce this: we’ve sold German rights for SORCERER TO THE CROWN! Droemer Knaur will be publishing it in German. It’s my first foreign language rights deal and I am very excited.

Oh, now I’m on the subject of rights deals (oh my god I’m so bad at this timely announcement business), I should also mention that there are going to be audiobooks of SORCERER and its sequels. That is cool! SORCERER is due out from Recorded Books in September.

Nine Worlds 2015 update + book preorders

Nine Worldzzzz

On top of my three panels and a reading, I’ll now also be on Paul Cornell’s Only A Moment quiz panel on Saturday night at Nine Worlds. It’s a take-off of a well-known British radio and TV show. You’re supposed to talk for one minute on a topic given to you without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Those are my three greatest strengths in conversation! Updated full schedule here — do come and watch my inevitable downfall.

Thanks to everyone who’s ordered copies of SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA for receipt at Nine Worlds. I’ll be there from Friday and will try to set aside some time per day to just sit in the lobby or another easy-to-find public area with the books, so people can come pick them up from me. I’ll say where I am on Twitter, so keep an eye on that. I’ll also contact pre-orderers directly.

The books will be available in the dealers’ room for those who haven’t pre-ordered. Each will come with a SORCERER TO THE CROWN postcard inside it, like this:

A photo posted by Zen (@zenaldehyde) on

I haven’t got that many of these, but if you catch me at the con and would like a postcard, just ask — I might have a few left!

Sorcerer to the Crown limited first editions

Fabulous first edition bookshop Goldsboro Books is going to be stocking a limited edition of SORCERER TO THE CROWN! It will be hardcover, signed and numbered and will have SPRAYED EDGES. (If you don’t know what sprayed edges are, this great Hodderscape post on the physical make-up of a book will tell you.)

I have to say that I am personally a practical ebook/mass market paperback sort of person: small, affordable, portable paperbacks are the books I grew up on, and I’ve only started buying hardcovers recently to support people I know. It’s kind of dumb because I then end up not reading them, since my only real reading time nowadays is on my commute and I am already mean enough to my back and shoulders, not to haul around the sort of tome my friends and acquaintances produce. (THANKS, KEN LIU.)

But it is very exciting to think that SORCERER will have sprayed edges, and having seen the cover proof, I can tell you with confidence that the book is going to be a beautiful object — whatever you think of its contents! There will be only 250 copies of the limited edition. You can pre-order one here.

SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA at Nine Worlds

I am going to have copies of the super rare and totally awesome SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA paperbacks at Nine Worlds! A few of them are already reserved:

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I KNEW I was going to find a retrospective excuse for having bought these incredibly cute post-it notes at Daiso.

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And here’s what CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA looks like in the flesh. Shiny and chrome!

I’m hoping the books will be available at the Nine Worlds dealers’ room, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to arrange that. However, you can place an order for the books now and/or buy them from me directly at the con!

I am selling the books for £5.00 each, and I am happy to sign and personalise them for you. You can even ask me to do a doodle! I can only draw friendly elephants, though. Also, there will be ultra secret, super exclusive SORCERER TO THE CROWN swag, which I will totally give you FOR FREE. (I mean, I don’t want to inflate expectations. It’s just stationery. But I think it’s going to be nice stationery!)

If you think you’d like to buy them from me in person, I will beg you now to bring a £5 note if at all possible. Of course, it’s easiest if you pre-order using the form below — that will enable me to put aside a copy for you, as stocks are limited. And also it means I don’t have scrounge up £5 bills!

RESERVE YOUR BOOKS

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ARCs, giveaways, reviews, conversations

I’m sure the title of this post is terrible for SEO (search engine minimisation??) but it is going to be a grab-bag of things I’m catching up on. If you would like to get updates on writing stuff in REAL TIME, Twitter is generally my first port of call for reporting book news (I am zenaldehyde!) and I cross-post to Facebook as well nowadays, though the posts aren’t identical because Facebook permits me to be as verbose as I naturally am. I can be found here on Facebook: my profile is public so anyone can follow it, but if you’d like to be friended do drop me a message to let me know who you are.

On to the news!

Sorcerer to the Crown: galleys, giveaways and more!

Ace/Roc sent me galleys of the book! My gosh. It looks like a REAL BOOK. And it is covered with quotes by authors I admire hugely!

SorcererGalley

Naomi Novik! Ann Leckie! Courtney Milan! Karen Lord! Charles Stross! Kate Elliott (on the other side with the dragon, you can’t see it in this picture)!

And as of today, awardwinning YA author Justine Larbalestier, who says Sorcerer is:

Georgette Heyer meets Anthony Trollope with some Edward Said and a very big dash of feminism. Romance, magic, frocks, intrigue and lots of politics … I was in heaven. More please!

If you’re in the US, you can enter the Penguin BEA 2015 sweepstakes for a chance to win five new releases from Penguin Random House, which just might include Sorcerer to the Crown and/or Aliette de Bodard’s fabulous new novel The House of Shattered Wings. You don’t have to be at BEA to sign up — you just have to be resident in the States. (If you’re not in the US and want Aliette’s book, you can join the 500 people jostling for a free copy over at her own ARC giveaway!)

Otherwise, watch this space, because I am going to do a galley giveaway here soon. Subscribers to my mailing list will get a MAGICAL ADVANTAGE, so sign up now! It’s a new release mailing list so you don’t get regular news when you’re on it — I just send out an email when I’ve got new fiction out that you can read or order. Here’s a previous example.

The House of Aunts and Naomi Novik’s Uprooted

Speaking of writers I admire hugely, Naomi Novik wrote a really kind post about The House of Aunts on Tor.com:

A New Reality: The Optimism of Zen Cho

You feel as you read that the author wants you to be happy, even if she is not going to lie to you to make you feel more comfortable. … As a reader, when I feel a writer has those goals, it creates a kind of trust that carries me along with them. Even when they take me to difficult or uncomfortable or sad places, I still feel they are doing so because it’s where the story belongs, and even then still with the underlying desire to give satisfaction.

Naomi links this to fanfic writers and writing, and I thought it was interesting because it’s precisely this quality that I like in Naomi’s work. (This must sound like the most sickening logrolling! But long-term fandom friends will vouch for the fact that I was reading and squealing over Naomi’s stories since I was 16. (I actually went to look at the earliest story by her that I remember reading when it was being posted, and that was in 2000, so I was actually 14. 14 years old.))

I spent most of her newest book Uprooted with every part of me clenched in terror lest everything would not turn out OK, but I also simultaneously knew that everything would not only be OK but more than OK — marvellously, eucatastrophically more-than-OK. And the author saw me through, as I knew she would. You should read Uprooted.

Interviews and roundtables

The Star interviewed me, KL Noir: Yellow editor and Cyberpunk: Malaysia writer Kris Williamson, and romance author RodieR about the increasing popularity of genre fiction in Malaysia:

Is genre fiction picking up steam with Malaysian readers?

Our books are all finalists in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards. Voting closes on 31 May so you still have a couple of days to vote for the winners!

And I spoke with Charles Tan, Aliette de Bodard, M Sereno, Bogi Takács and JY Yang for a roundtable on “diversity” and the kind of conversations we’d like to have for the Book Smugglers’ SFF in Conversation feature:

On Diversity

Actual fiction (kind of)

Finally, my new post went up at Where Ghost Words Dwell today! This is a group project I’m doing with a bunch of other cool SFF writers, where we string our discarded writing together on a blog, along with links and images. Today’s contribution is a piece of lost text from The House of Aunts:

At age 16, in Lubuk Udang

You can check out this explanation to get an idea of what the project is about, or better yet, read the whole blog through.

SPIRITS ABROAD is a Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards finalist!

SpiritsAbroad-final-faceonlyEvery year Popular, jointly with The Star, picks out its 10 bestselling titles for fiction and nonfiction respectively and lets readers vote for their three favourites for the Readers’ Choice Awards. This year Spirits Abroad is on the list!

You can read The Star‘s coverage of the English-language nominees list here:

Support local books by voting in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards

and vote for the winners online here:

Click to vote in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards

You can also check out and vote on the Malay-language nominees.

There doesn’t appear to be any express restriction on voters’ backgrounds, but I’d think you’d want to be a Malaysian or someone living in Malaysia really! It’s to encourage local support for local books ma.

The awards will be presented on 11 July at BookFest 2015 in KL.

Sofia Samatar, Stephanie Feldman and me!

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Sofia Samatar interviewed me and Crawford Award co-winner Stephanie Feldman about fantasy, family, history and diaspora over at Electric Lit. We did the interview in a Google Doc, and it was really interesting to me how Stephanie’s answers and mine reflected each other, often unintentionally. Here’s an extract!

Samatar: Spirits Abroad and The Angel of Losses are such different books: Spirits is a short story collection, Angel a novel; Spirits uses quite a bit of humor, while Angel is written in a more melancholy mode. Yet they share an interest in fantasy and diaspora. What’s going on there? How does the fantastic relate to diasporic experiences?

Cho: As with many Malaysian writers in English, it actually took me a while to figure out how to populate the sort of fantasy stories I liked with the sort of people I knew in life. So there wasn’t an immediate connection between culture and fantasy, for me.

But I think there is something there. Diaspora involves such a huge disruption, an interruption in continuity. Fantasy or mythology or folk stories, the stories of the improbable that everyone tells, are one means of maintaining continuity, and also of reinforcing connection. As a Chinese person, what claim can I lay to being Malaysian except that I was born there, I absorbed the stories of the local hantu, the English I speak is a Malaysian English? As a Malaysian, what claim do I have to being Chinese, except that I grew up on stories of monkey gods and magpie bridges and rabbits on the moon?

So maybe magic — the fantastic — is the thing that survives all that travel from the original point, that loosening of ties to land and people and languages. …

Feldman: Fantasy was my way of talking about one aspect of diaspora: displacement, whether it results from immigration, war, or even one generation unable (or unwilling) to communicate with the next. In each of these cases, there’s a gap, something missing. In my case—personally, and in The Angel of Losses—what’s missing is Jewish Eastern Europe.

The novel uses fairy tales to recreate that world and its legacy. It never occurred to me to use strict realism. Magical realism comes easily to me, and here it gave me the freedom to follow emotional truth, instead of adhering entirely to research. It also reminds the reader that my Europe is an invention; it’s a huge responsibility, after all, to tell another person’s story, and I want the reader to be mindful of where my voice begins and ends.

But most important: Fantasy let me explore how the stories we choose to tell are as much about us—our questions, our needs—as they are about our subjects.

Read the rest here: Fantasies that Bind: a conversation with Zen Cho & Stephanie Feldman.

Cho and Feldman win Crawford Award

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I’ve stolen the headline of the Locus piece for this post because it makes me feel so weird and official. I am the Cho that has won the Crawford Award! It’s for Spirits Abroad, tied with Stephanie Feldman for her novel The Angel of Losses. (Which sounds super cool, and I can think of several people on my friends list who might be interested in it. If they haven’t already read it!)

I’m unbelievably chuffed to be in a list of winners including Karen Lord, Sofia Samatar and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. And Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy! Imagine Spirits Abroad being on the same list as the Black Jewels books. What more is there to say!