If a work you’d like to consider is behind a paywall, please feel free to email me for a review copy.
“At Your Dream’s Edge.” The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2019. 1,900 words.
You’ve had the Nightmare app installed for months, but all you’ve ever done is create an account. It’s not that the service is pricey, even though it is.
It’s because you haven’t needed to use it.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths. You have to do this tonight, before you can face your family tomorrow. Before you can spend a day trapped with them. You tap the black-and-white icon. The screen fills with a map, a blue dot pulsing over your apartment. Arcane symbols drift around in a five-block radius of your location. Your thumb hovers over the single button centered at the bottom of the screen.
Please note that this story is not genre.
“I killed a man before, you know.”
It’s 3:12 pm, an awkward time for us to be preparing food. I’m not sure if we’re making a late lunch, an early dinner, or just afternoon tea. I’ve been struggling to open a plastic case of Granny Smith apples; meanwhile, he’s been slicing some tomatoes to add to the salad. I pause as his words finally register in my mind. I glance up at him, my fingernails still jammed between the sheets of plastic. He’s calmly slicing those tomatoes. Chop, chop. Meticulous. The V of every wedge of tomato looks like it measures the exact same angle. The afternoon sun is radiant, turning his dark brown hair almost reddish-brown in its golden light.
“The Shapeshifter Unraveled.” Daily Science Fiction, October 22, 2019. 980 words.
Marie was thunder and lightning, a tornado tearing through the plains, weaponized rage consuming everything in her path. And I was a mouse clinging to a stalk of grass in the distance, watching her, trembling in the wake of her glory.
Envy swallowed me. I wanted to be her, a force of nature instead of this borrowed shape; I longed to be anything but what I was inside.
“As Dark As Hunger.” Black Static #72, November/December 2019. 7,400 words.
The sun bears down hot and twisted against the nape of Ellen’s neck. She wades into the muddy waters, slick yellow-brown silt clinging to her worn rubber boots. The rotten scent of fish hangs heavy in the air, which is loud with the buzz of iridescent flies and the shrieks of cicadas.
Summer here is an oppressive season, sick with humidity. The river floods, then washes back sewage and garbage. As the water recedes, the muddy pools evaporate. Any fish able to survive the reek of dank, infested waters die by suffocation on dry land. Then the gulls, the crows, the carrion-feeders pick at the corpses until they’re nothing but bones bleaching in the sun.
The fans Ellen keep running in her house-on-stilts do nothing to calm the heat or drive out the stink. The most they do is add a low, humming drone that keeps the whine and buzz of insects at bay. Still, Ellen never begrudges the flood season. She knows where the cleaner waters are, where, with her hands covered by thick gloves and holding a pail full of bait and a net, she can seed the shallow waters and catch fish without even needing a line. The fish are enough to keep her fed. The work leaves a sheen of sweat on her that traps every sour, marshy scent of the river to her skin.
Ellen drops a catfish into her bucket, where it thrashes for a few moments before going still and playing dead, the only movement the whisper of its gills opening and closing like butterfly wings. Before she can turn and trudge back to the shore, something catches Ellen’s eye.
There, beyond the leaves, half-hidden by the thickets of mangroves rooting the path of the river, lies a shining, smooth fish tail—a massive fish, larger even than the sharks sold at the wet market. And, as she watches, the tail twitches once, twice, before beating against the muddy bank, a wet slop-slop sound, the earth doing nothing but slither and squelch.
“Flashover.” Uncanny, May 2019. 45 lines.
I am angry with myself for wanting
for being a heliotrope who turns to the sun,
believing it to be weakness,
an admission of failure,
as if the blood that the light creates
does not thrum through my veins.
I am eligible for Best Fan Writer. My reviews and talks are eligible for Best Related Work.
“Tarot for Plot and Character.” S. Qiouyi Lu, August 22, 2019. 1,400 words.
Tarot can be a great tool to get unstuck when writing. Not only do most decks have vivid imagery that can spark the imagination, but the openness of card readings can lead the creative mind to create unexpected associations and consider new options. This post includes a few simple three-card spreads that I often use, as well as a couple writing-specific approaches I take to tarot reading.
“Fat, And.” The (Other) F Word, edited by Angie Manfredi, September 2019 from Abrams/Amulet Books. 2,000 words.
Please note that this essay is not genre-related.
Take the constant: fat.
What does it mean to be fat? Being fat just means you have one of a range of body types carrying some amount of adipose tissue above an arbitrarily determined average point.
That’s it. Being fat doesn’t have anything to do with character, health, personality, attractiveness, or worth.
“Translating Verse: A couplet from Chiung Yao’s Princess Pearl.” October 18, 2019. 590 words.
All translation is both an act of interpretation and an act of judgment. The translator has the power to adapt and edit texts for their target audience, and there is no such thing as a “perfect” translation that will convey every semantic nuance between languages.
“Naming Characters.” Modality Irrealis, October 19, 2019. 650 words.
Most of my characters are Chinese-American like me. They usually have a Western name, a Chinese name, and a Chinese surname. I’ve always loved naming characters, and this structure gives me opportunities to explore both branches of my heritage. (I use modified or other methods for non-Chinese characters and characters in secondary worlds.)
“In the Darkly Humorous All My Colors, a Jerk Rewrites a Novel Only He Can Remember.” Review of All My Colors by David Quantick, April 2019 from Titan Books. Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, April 2019. 600 words.
“Cry Pilot Is the Closest Thing to an Immersive Cyberpunk FPS Video Game Between Two Covers.” Review of Cry Pilot by Joel Dane, August 2019 from Penguin. Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, August 2019. 900 words.
“Jin Yong’s A Hero Born: A Legendary Chinese Epic Travels West.” Review of A Hero Born by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood, September 2019 from St. Martin’s. Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, September 2019. 700 words.
“The Sisters of the Vast Black: A Mission to the Stars.” Review of Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather, October 2019 from Tor.com. Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, October 2019. 300 words.
“S. Qiouyi Lu and ‘As Dark As Hunger’.” Dive into Worldbuilding, October 2019. 1 hour.
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