Short Fiction

You can read some of my short fiction online at the links below. A number of my short stories have been collected in a book, Spirits Abroad, which is available both in print and as an enhanced ebook with additional content.

Stuff you can read online for free
Stuff you can’t

Stuff you can read online for free

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog (November 2018). Ebook: NOOK. Reprinted in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 13, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books (April 2019).

8,500 words. A hapless imugi is determined to attain the form of a full-fledged dragon and gain entry to the gates of heaven. For a long time, things don’t go well. Then, it meets a girl.

If you drop a stone, it will fall to the ground—it will not fly up to the sky. If you try to become a dragon before your thousandth birthday, you will fall flat on your face, and all the other spirits of the five elements will laugh at you.

These are the laws of heaven.

Monkey King, Faerie Queen, Spring 2015 issue of Kaleidotrope (April 2015).

5,400 words. Sun Wukong journeys to Fairyland and busts stuff up. Also available in EPUB or MOBI at the link.

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 Monkeys, defier of gods and Buddhas alike, scorner of other people’s dignity and personal inspiration to little monkeys everywhere?

East Asian girl holding a mirror

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, self-published (May 2012). Ebook: Smashwords | Amazon | Amazon UK | Google Play | Nook. Pina Piccolo translated an excerpt into Italian for La macchina sognante: da “The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” annotazione di diario di sabato, 7 agosto 1920.

23,000 words. An epistolary romance novella set in 1920s London. Young writer Jade Yeo is about to find out what a lot of trouble a negative review can cause.

“Poor Ariel,” he said. “Alone on an incomprehensible island. Has any other mariner heard your whispers, or did they think it just the wind?”

“I’m really more of a Caliban,” I said primly.

The House of Aunts, GigaNotoSaurus (December 2011). You can download and listen to an audio version read by Nina Shaharuddin at PodCastle: PodCastle 266: The House of Aunts (June 2013).

16,000 words. Teenage vampire Ah Lee struggles to balance homework, bossy aunties, first love, and eating people. You can download an ebook version in epub format at the link.

Undeath had not lent Ah Lee any mystical glamour. It had not imbued her with magical powers, gained her exotic new friends, or even done anything for her acne.

Art by Caroline Parkinson

The Four Generations of Chang E, Issue 10 of Mascara Literary Review (October 2011). Reprinted in Aliens: Recent Encounters, ed. Alex Dally MacFarlane, Prime Books (June 2013) (print: Amazon | Book Depository); The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, ed. Alex Dally MacFarlane, Constable & Robinson (UK) and Running Press (USA) (2014) (print: Book Depository); How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, ed. Joanne Merriam, Upper Rubber Boot Books (2015); and The Apex Book of World SF 4, ed. Mahvesh Murad, Apex Publications (2015). A French translation appeared in Issue #3 of Jentayu, ed. Jérôme Bouchaud (2015).

2,500 words. Chang E as overseas outer space Chinese.

Who had time for education in days like these? In these times you mated young before you died young, you plucked your roses before you came down with some hideous mutation or discovered one in your child, or else you did something crazy–like go to the moon. Like survive.

You can download and listen to an audio version at Drabblecast: Drabblecast 380 — The Four Generations of Chang E.

起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion–The Lion Bows), Strange Horizons (March 2011).

5,100 words. A lion dance troupe encounters an unusual spirit in the course of a routine performance.

“Very pleased,” said Mr. Yu in English. In Cantonese, he said: “The ghost is in the upstairs cupboard.

“Thank you, we’re looking forward to it,” said Coco to Nick. To Mr. Yu: “What kind of ghost is it?”

You can download and listen to an audio version read by Tracey Yuen at PodCastle: PodCastle 182: 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion–The Lion Bows) (November 2011).

Lontar Issue 7

七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum), self-published (March 2011). Reprinted in LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction Issue #7, Epigram Books (October 2016). A Finnish translation appeared in Tähtivaeltaja 3/2016, ed. Toni Jerrman (2016).

1,900 words. The lion dance “is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to summon luck and fortune” (Wikipedia). Prequel to 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion–The Lion Bows).

The lion was gold and red and silver; its head was white-furred like the face of a kind grandfather; the bounce of its feet was like the dance of sunlight on water.

Chicken Chicken Bang Bang, Issue 14 of the Selangor Times (March 2011)

780 words. A novel traffic jam solution.

Confucius should have included a get-out clause in the Analects, she thought. Respect your elders—except when they are idiots.


Prudence and the Dragon, Crossed Genres Quarterly #1 (February 2011). Print and ebook: Crossed Genres (links to Amazon, Smashwords etc.) | Book Depository. Reprinted by The World SF Blog (March 2012).

Podéis leer esto cuento en español en Cuentos para Algernon: Prudence y el dragón. (You can read this story in Spanish at the link!)

7,000 words. In the magical city of London, Prudence Ong (medical student) meets a dragon (occupation unknown).

Because Prudence Ong never read newspapers or watched British TV, she maintained a spotlessly pure ignorance of the dragon throughout. She encountered the dragon in a rather more traditional setting. She met him down the pub.

The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life, self-published (November 2011): read online | download free ebook

4,400 words. Angela struggles to come to terms with her past self. Sequel to Prudence and the Dragon.

Her old self could not enter the room without Angela’s permission. She hovered at the window, peering in.

Angela was not going to invite her in. It was a cold night, but the dead don’t feel the cold.

Unterminator, Eschatology: The Journal of Lovecraftian and Apocalyptic Fiction (now defunct) (August 2011): read online

300 words. The ineffable sadness of time travel.

You were sent to avert the nuclear apocalypse, but they sent you too early. It’s the 1950s and everyone seems fine.


The Guest, Issue 24 of Expanded Horizons (November 2010). Reprinted in Heiresses of Russ 2011, ed. JoSelle Vanderhooft and Steve Berman, Lethe Press (December 2011). Ebook: Lethe Press | Amazon UK. Print: Amazon | Book Depository.

3,800 words. How Yiling got her groove back.

People had odd ideas about what she was able to do, but then to be fair her skill was not a conventional one. No one had ever heard of a smell magician, which was why her parents had not supported her in trying to make a career of it.

Stuff you can’t read online for free


Everything Under One Roof, An Alphabet of Embers, Stone Bird Press (2016)

1,500 words. Death, road trips, best friends, and what you miss.

The distance between life and death is no wider, in some places, than the waters between Pengkalan Kubor and Tai Bak.


The Terracotta Bride, Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, ed. JoSelle Vanderhooft, Torquere Press (October 2011). Reprinted in Spirits Abroad, Small Beer Press (April 2021).

11,000 words. When Siew Tsin’s husband brings home his new bride Yonghua, an artificial woman made from terracotta, Siew Tsin falls in love — and is drawn into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life, or a very final death. A tale of first love, bad theology and robot reincarnation set in the Chinese afterlife.

The girl shone out from her extravagant silk robes like a pearl nestled in a red velvet box. She was beautiful, with skin as smooth as jade and hair like a lacquered black bowl.

Her eyes were black commas, no whites in them. She was not human. She had never been alive.


Spirits Abroad, Fixi Novo (June and October 2014). Print: Fixi | Ebook: Amazon | Google Play | Smashwords.

A short story collection including three new stories, published by award-winning Malaysian press Buku Fixi.

“If you live near the jungle, you will realise that what is real and what is not real is not always clear. In the forest there is not a big gap between the two.”

A Datin recalls her romance with an orang bunian. A teenage pontianak struggles to balance homework, bossy aunties, first love, and eating people. An earth spirit gets entangled in protracted negotiations with an annoying landlord, and Chang E spins off into outer space, the ultimate metaphor for the Chinese diaspora.

Straddling the worlds of the mundane and the magical, SPIRITS ABROAD collects 10 science fiction and fantasy stories with a distinctively Malaysian sensibility.


Balik Kampung (Going Back), End of the Road, ed. Jonathan Oliver, Solaris Books (October-December 2013). Ebook: Rebellion Store. Print: Amazon | Book Depository.

4,700 words. Travelling home for the Hungry Ghost Festival, Lydia discovers more than she wants to know about the mystery of her life and death.

Hungry ghosts were the spirits of the unfortunate, unlamented dead: those who were killed violently; who died burdened by unfulfilled longings; who had been greedy or ungenerous in life; who were forgotten by their living. It was obvious to Lydia which category she fell into.


Double-Blind, Love in Penang, ed. Anna Tan, Fixi Novo (November 2013). Print: Buku Fixi | Amazon.

4,600 words. A romcom in miniature. Bee Kin goes to a party and makes some incorrect assumptions.

“I really wanted it to work, you know?” he said. “I wanted to stay together no matter what. But that’s my problem. I’m too unrealistic. And I always fall for people where I’m not their type one.”

He smiled at Bee, but she looked away, frowning. She had just made a terrible discovery. The worst possible thing that could happen had happened, and she hadn’t even noticed it until now. Bee was in love.


The Fish Bowl, The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, ed. Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber, Alchemy Press (November 2013). Ebook: Amazon | Amazon UK. Print: Amazon | Amazon UK.

5,600 words. Su Yin’s three wishes.

Content note (highlight to view): Self-harm.

The koi’s mouth opened and closed, an intermittent surprised O. Its white skin was so smooth it seemed scaleless. It would feel like silken tofu if you touched it. Seen from above, the fish’s one eye looked heavy-lidded and wise.

“Are you a magical fish or a door-to-door salesman?” Su Yin whispered.


Love in the Time of Utopia, LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction Issue #1, Math Paper Press (September 2013). Print: Books Actually. Ebook: Weightless Books.

6,200 words. In a utopian Kuala Lumpur, Feisal falls in love and finds out about his world’s limitations — and his own.

“You’re missing out. At least love is available to everybody, high station or low. It’s the one thing you can get without having to sit exam.”

Esquire Brilliant Malaysians Yuna cover

Jebat Dies, Brilliant Malaysians issue of Esquire Malaysia (April 2013)

800 words. Three ways Hang Jebat died, and one way he didn’t.

Was it possible that his conduct had not been entirely correct? Could it be, in fact, that he had been kind of a massive jerk?


The First Witch of Damansara, Bloody Fabulous, ed. Ekaterina Sedia, Prime Books (October 2012). Ebook: Amazon | Amazon UK. Print: Amazon | Book Depository.

6,100 words. Returning home for her grandmother’s funeral, Vivian faces sartorial disagreement and an intransigent teenage sister.

Vivian’s late grandmother was a witch—which is just a way of saying she was a woman of unusual insight.

ASIM 54 cover

The Earth Spirit’s Favourite Anecdote, Issue 54 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (May 2012). Print and ebook: ASIM website.

5,500 words. An earth spirit leaves her parents’ house to set up home, but finds herself entangled in protracted negotiations with an annoying landlord.

Gods, ghosts, monsters, all the hantu-hantu also got. And there was people like me: earth people, small spirit who just want to make enough money to send hole to their parents, and to save to build up their own hole.


First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia, Fantastique Unfettered Issue 3 (Prolefeed) (September 2011). Print: Amazon | Book Depository. This story was a finalist in the Selangor Young Talent Awards 2011, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I wrote a guest post for the Fantastique Unfettered blog about the local mythology that inspired me: Stories of the Hidden People.

5,000 words. A forum on minority rights confronts the issues of the hidden peoples among us.

“If you live near the jungle, you will realise that what is real and what is not real is not always clear. In the forest there is not a big gap between the two.”