Category Archives: Other People’s Stories

Publications in 2015

I generally manage to avoid reading discussion of my writing, but one time I did see someone describe me as “not prolific”. I was all indignant: how can?! I write so many words, OK, all things considered!

But the melancholy truth is that I’m not very prolific. Given sufficient time I can crank out a decent number of words, but a fairly low percentage is fit for human consumption. Still, in 2015 my list of publications was short but satisfying.

Short fiction: Monkey King, Faerie Queen in Kaleidotrope (April 2015)

This was a hard story to sell, which puzzled me because it’s one of my favourite of my short stories. It’s about Sun Wukong wreaking havoc in Fairyland. What’s not to love? I’m pleased it found a great home in the end.

Anthology (editor): Cyberpunk: Malaysia, Fixi Novo (June 2015)

CyberpunkMalaysiaebookcoverwithtitleI edited Cyberpunk: Malaysia, which was a great experience but way too much hard work for me to want to repeat it! I’m really proud of it — it’s a great collection of stories and as good an introduction to urban Malaysia as you can get anywhere else.

Novel: Sorcerer to the Crown, Ace/Macmillan (September 2015)

IMG_0668My first published novel! It’s been wild having it out in the world. Currently it’s out in hardcover in the US, UK and elsewhere, and I never get tired of wandering into bookshops and seeing it on shelves. I find it even more exciting seeing it in libraries and seeing holds (!!) on the book. There’s also an audiobook, which I’m told is well done: US | UK (it’s the same audiobook, just different versions of Audible). Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it, reviewed it, posted about it on social media, and told me they enjoyed it. I’m very grateful.

Nonfiction: It’s sort of overegging it to call it nonfiction, but I did write a lot of guest posts, email interviews and the like this year, and people seemed to enjoy my Publishing Journey series of blog posts. I plan to write more! But must finish book 2 first. >:| <– this is my determined face

The list will be even shorter this year as the follow-up to Sorcerer to the Crown isn’t scheduled for publication till 2017, but I do have at least one thing planned. You can sign up to my new release mailing list if you want to hear about new publications as they happen! It’s very low volume — I just send out an email when there’s something new by me that can be bought/read.

Catch-up: Science fiction, social justice and a film made from coasters

Happy New Year! It’s been quiet on this blog lately as I’ve been absorbed in working on the follow-up to Sorcerer to the Crown and then took a complete break from writing over Christmas and New Year. It felt a bit alarming to be taking a rest with a deadline looming, but I think it was a good idea — there’s still a ton of work to be done, but I feel rejuvenated and much more capable of tackling it. I’ll probably stay pretty quiet till the book has been turned in, but here are some recent bits and bobs:

The Star did an end-of-year feature on me: Malaysian author Zen Cho: Forget critics, focus on the story. Thanks to Terence Toh for the write-up!

In December I was on a panel discussing science fiction and social justice with Daniel Jose Older, Walidah Imarisha and Mark Oshiro for Al Jazeera’s The Stream, an online daily TV show: Sci-fi for social change. First time I’ve done a panel via Skype!

Speaking of panels and diversity, I’ll be participating in Bare Lit Festival, the first UK literary festival focusing on authors of colour, run by Media Diversified. It’s taking place in February 2016 and I’m really looking forward to it. They’re fundraising to cover costs at the moment — do consider chipping in if it sounds like a worthwhile project to you: Bare Lit Festival fundraiser.

And my brother We Jun’s short film Coaster is out! It’s sponsored by Tiger Beer, who got people to send in story ideas on beer coasters — and picked the cast and crew based on coaster submissions! The film is a stylish, atmospheric story of revenge. It’s 15 minutes long and you can watch it on YouTube:

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:

IMG_0456

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

IMG_20150613_225004

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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Aliens vs. cyborgs

The days have been such a blur* since I arrived in Malaysia that I forgot to post about this article I wrote for Poskod.MY sempena Cooler Lumpur:

What being an alien taught me about stories

I am eight years old, a new pupil at SRJK (C) Kwang Hwa.

“This is my new friend from England,” chirps my classmate when she introduces me. I have never been to England in my life, but why should she know the difference between USA and England? Here in Penang both countries seem equally distant and unreal.

My family moved from Malaysia to the US for a couple of years when I was a kid, so by that age I already knew what it was to be an alien.

Basically it’s me wondering aloud “what is the proper subject of the Asian/Malaysian writer?”

Don’t forget I’m running two giveaways for my anthology CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA. Enter for free, win a book that is both shiny and chrome!

 

* I haven’t really been busy, unless you count “sleeping only three hours a night” and “obsessing over the Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell BBC series” as being busy. I do, but I admit there may be legitimate differences upon the point …

CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA launch and giveaway

CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA is out in the world! I’m really excited about this anthology and hope people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

(Although I am never editing another anthology. It is TOO MUCH WORK. Hats off to the editors of the world.)

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Intro / Zen Cho
Underneath Her Tudung / Angeline Woon
Codes / Anna Tan
Personal / Sharmilla Ganesan
Attack of The Spambots / Terence Toh
ONE HUNDRED YEARS: Machine / Rafil Elyas
What the Andromaid Reads at Night / Ted Mahsun
KAKAK / William Tham Wai Liang
The Wall That Wasn’t a Wall / Kris Williamson
The Twins / Adiwijaya Iskandar
October 11 / Chin Ai-May
Undercover in Tanah Firdaus / Tina Isaacs
Unusual Suspects / Tariq Kamal
The White Mask / Zedeck Siew

We launched the book at Cooler Lumpur to a standing room only audience, with most of the authors in attendance:

Photo of Cyberpunk: Malaysia authors at launch

L to R: Sharmilla Ganesan, Foo Sek Han, Chin Ai-May, me, Ted Mahsun, Tina Isaacs, Terence Toh, Zedeck Siew, Anna Tan, Tariq Kamal

The cover of the book was also revealed for the first time at the launch. In a first for a Fixi book (er, apart from mine), the paperback and ebook have different covers, though the content is the same.

Cyberpunk Malaysia paperback

The paperback

Cyberpunk Malaysia ebook cover

The ebook

Cool, right? Here’s what the publisher says about the covers:

The print cover is simply a mirror. Why? Because our cyber experience is increasingly customised — at its simplest level, the ads and promoted posts you see are based on your own browsing history. So when you look directly at the cover, you will see your face leh.

The ebook cover is “Cyberpunk Malaysia” spelt out several times in binary.

The contents are exactly the same.

And here’s the blurb on the back of the book:

Cyberpunk as you’ve never seen it before…

Science fiction is all about outrageous ideas. Nice Malay girls breaking the rules. Censorship. Brain drain. Moral policing. Migrant exploitation. All the stuff of fiction, obviously.

But these 14 short stories take it one step further. The nice Malay girls are cyborgs. The spambots are people. The brains have drained into cyberspace, and the censorship is inside your head.

Welcome to CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA.

You can buy the ebook now for US$3.90 on Google Play and Smashwords (other vendors to follow). If you prefer dead tree books, you can buy the print version from Fixi if you’re in Malaysia, or pre-order from Amazon.com if you’re outside Malaysia. And/or you can enter a couple of giveaways for a chance to win the print version!

I’m giving away 1 copy via Rafflecopter — you can sign up RIGHT HERE (no geographical limitations):

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Edited to add: I am also giving away 2 copies via GoodReads — enter below! Open worldwide. You’ll need a GoodReads account.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

 

CYBERPUNK by Zen Cho

 

CYBERPUNK

 

by Zen Cho

 

Giveaway ends June 22, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 

 

Enter Giveaway

 

Note that the giveaway copies are the print version with the reflective cover. Both giveaways close on 22 June — enter and tell all your friends!

CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA Table of Contents

I’m really excited to finally be able to talk about the Table of Contents for CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA! Here’s the line-up:

“Underneath Her Tudung” by Angeline Woon
“Codes” by Anna Tan
“Personal” by Sharmilla Ganesan
“Attack of the Spambots” by Terence Toh
“ONE HUNDRED YEARS: Machine” by Rafil Elyas
“What The Andromaid Reads at Night” by Ted Mahsun
“KAKAK” by William Tham Wai Liang
“The Wall That Wasn’t A Wall” by Kris Williamson
“The Twins” by Adiwijaya Iskandar
“October 11” by Chin Ai-May
“Undercover in Tanah Firdaus” by Syamsuriatina Ishak writing as Tina Isaacs
“Unusual Suspects” by Tariq Kamal
“The White Mask” by Zedeck Siew
“Extracts from DMZINE #13 (January 2115)” by Foo Sek Han

So there are a number of Fixi stalwarts in the list, but this is also the first SF story sale for some of the writers, and the first fiction sale for at least one. Which is awesome!

It was really tough winnowing down the 100 odd submissions to this final selection, and there were great stories that I ultimately wasn’t able to include for fairly random reasons. I did a first slush read and narrowed the list down to a group of “maybes” that ended up being the length of two novels. And then I had to refine that down to “yeses plus maybes that are really very close to yes, but I need to think more about how the stories fit together”, which eventually went through the fire to become the final ToC. So by now I have read every story that has ended up in the anthology 5-6 times each, and I’m not sick of them yet — which I think is a good sign!

(I was also the pickiest editor Fixi has probably ever had, and can only be grateful to the authors for not telling me to bleep off, but instead doing sterling work on their stories.)

Recurring themes in the anthology: the war of the rich on the poor, religion (duh), moral policing, migrant labour, the multiple purposes of art, cities. It’s a very urban anthology; it’s a very Malaysian anthology. It’s skeptical but it’s also optimistic. I think people will enjoy reading it. I hope they find it as entertaining and heartening as I did, pulling it together.

It’s launching at the Cooler Lumpur Festival, whose theme this year is Dangerous Ideas — quite zhun because the anthology is full of dangerous ideas. The festival’s taking place this year from 12-14 June and I’m going to be doing a couple of things for them, and will of course be turning up to the launch if jet lag permits. So do come if you are around, and come say hello!