Category Archives: SFF

Where I’ll be in August

August is when genre throws a huge party in London. Here’s what I’ll be doing!

Fantasy in the Court
Thursday 6 August, 6:00pm – 9:00pm at Cecil Court

I’m going to be at SFF author/fan gathering Fantasy in the Court for the first time this year! It’s hosted by Goldsboro Books in association with Hodderscape. I’ve been to Goldsboro Books a couple of times now for book launches and have happy memories talking books with nice people over drinks. Hopefully this will be more of the same!

Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015
Friday 7 August to Sunday 9 August at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Heathrow

It’ll be my third Nine Worlds and I expect it’ll be as fun as ever. My elevator pitch for Nine Worlds is “it’s like Tumblr in real life”, which can elicit varied reactions. But the nice parts of Tumblr, really!

Friday, 7 August

“Waiter, you spilt some sci-fi in my fantasy”
Commonwealth West, 3:15pm – 4:30pm (All of the Books)

It feels like every other week there’s a new sub-genre to better define fantasy, sci-fi or horror but are those genres still specific and how much do they bleed into each other? This panel will explore the crossing of genre boundaries.

Adrian Tchaikovsky, James Smythe, Gaie Sebold, James Oswald, Zen Cho (Moderator)

New Voices
Royal C&D, 10:15pm – 11:30pm (All of the Books)

Stark Holborn hosts readings by debut authors Al Robertson, Francesca Haig, Tom Toner and Lucy Hounsom. And me! I’ll read something from Sorcerer to the Crown, of course.

Saturday, 8 August

“The dead will rise again” – Resurgence of Gothic Literature
Room 38, 5:00pm – 6:15pm (All of the Books)

Some of the greatest monsters just can’t stay dead. Here, we explore the pull of Gothic literature.

Charlie Fletcher, Zen Cho, Lavie Tidhar, Laurell K Hamilton, Sarah Lotz, John J Johnstone (Moderator)

The Fantasy Of White History – Race and racism in historically based fiction
Connaught B, 6:45pm – 8:00pm (Race and Culture)

Breaking down the myth of “historical accuracy” meaning no PoC, and un-whitewashing history.

Zen Cho, Georgiana Jackson-Callen, Meg Jayanth, Jade Tebble

 

Here’s my schedule on their app if you are using that to organise yourself. And if you’re non-white and thinking of trying out the con, I believe Con or Bust still has a number of free Nine Worlds memberships going

I’m also arranging to have copies of Spirits Abroad and Cyberpunk: Malaysia to hawk at the con. These are a little tricky to get outside Malaysia, so if you’d like to get a signed copy for a v. reasonable price, watch this space!

Link roundup: SORCERER TO THE CROWN &c.

Sorcerer to the Crown UK cover Sorcerer to the Crown US cover

I was interviewed by Australian fantasy blog Smash Dragons! I talk about Sorcerer to the Crown, explain what measures I’d institute as Empress of the Earth, and quote Diana Wynne Jones and S. I. Rosenbaum on historical novels and writing respectively.

Smash Dragons interview – Zen Cho

A couple of nice mentions of Sorcerer to the Crown in the book press:

It was one of Publishers Weekly’s top 10 SFF picks for Fall 2015, along with such fabulous books as Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings and Fran Wilde’s exciting-sounding Updraft. You need a PW subscription to read the piece, but it calls Sorcerer a “glorious debut”. :D

And it showed up in Kirkus‘s feature on What to Read in the Second Half of 2015. Again, Sorcerer is in fabulous company, cited alongside, among others, Cindy Pon’s Serpentine and Kate Elliott’s two (!) new books this year, The Black Wolves and her YA debut Court of Fives.

An excerpt of Sorcerer will also be included in Apex Magazine’s special world-themed issue this September, guest-edited by Cristina Jurado. There’ll be interviews with me and Escape from Baghdad author Saad Hossain.

Finally, a new pro-rate SFF magazine from the fine folks behind Rosarium Publishing: Shattered Prism will open to submissions in August for its first issue, due out in November. Check it out! Write! Submit!

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!

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.

Get Jade Yeo for free

And help young Bulgarian writer Haralambi Markov get to World Fantasy Con!

The World SF Travel Fund has set up a Kickstarter to fund Haralambi’s attendance at WFC, along with next year’s recipient. It’s a great initiative that has so far sent international SFF readers/writers/editors/fans Charles Tan (Philippines), Karin Tidbeck and Nene Ormes (Sweden), Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Philippines/Netherland) and Csilla Kleinheincz (Hungary) to conventions.

I’m donating the ebook of The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo as a reward, which you’ll get if you back the fundraiser at any level. Put the world in World Fantasy Con and get a free ebook! \o/ I am going to fix some typos in it (thanks, Punk!), so you know it is a great deal.

And there are some other rewards, too, I guess, like copies of The Apex Book of World SF 1, 2 and 3, and ebook bundles from Angry Robot, Solaris, Prime Books and Twelfth Planet Press. Check it out!

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!