S. Qiouyi Lu

writer, editor, and translator of speculative fiction

Cover art by Kuri Huang

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In the Watchful City is now available!

In the Watchful City

Debut novella out August 31, 2021 from Tordotcom Publishing!

Cut off from the rest of the world by choice, the city of Ora relies on heavy surveillance of its people and surroundings to maintain order. Anima is one of the extrasensory humans tasked with running the city. Even if it means never leaving the Hub, Anima is content with ær job, as it offers ær a direct connection to the Gleaming, a powerful network that spans the globe and connects all things.

 

Then, a mysterious figure named Vessel manages to enter Ora without going through one of the border gates. Se offers Anima the chance to look at ser cabinet of curiosities from around the world in exchange for a memento of ær own. Instead of turning ser in to the authorities, Anima, who has never seen the world outside Ora, accepts Vessel’s offer.

 

But as æ learns the story behind each item, Anima realizes that the rest of the world isn’t like Ora and begins to doubt ær role in enforcing the city’s rules. As events collide, Anima is left with one question that destabilizes everything æ knows: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

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Upcoming Releases

Spilling Salt into the Sea

Short story out January 29, 2021 from Corvid Queen

a selkie retelling

“You’re tracking them,” she says.


I nod. “Yup. Are you a marine biologist too?”


Joanna laughs, the sound gruff compared to her gentle features.


“No, nothing like that. I just happen to know a lot about seals.”
She has her finger on one dot in particular: GD317. My seal. Well, he’s not really mine; he’s just my favorite. Joanna furrows her brow, her gaze full of intent as she hops from one dot marked GD317 to another, tracing his path up and down the coast, drawing out the same figure-eights.


“This one,” Joanna says. “This one has a very unusual path, when you compare it to all the others.”


“Yes!” I’ve spent so many days alone on this research vessel that I feel a strange exuberance over Joanna acknowledging my work. “It’s really odd. Seals that deviate from their normal routes typically have some goal in mind—hunting or mating, usually. Sometimes they’re trying to escape fishers or cruise vessels that come through these areas. But that one, it’s just so inexplicable. Swimming up and down the coast, like he’s looking for something.”


Joanna glances up at me. The haunted look on her face and the darkness of her eyes send a shiver down my spine.


“Did he find what he was looking for?” she says. I shake my head.


“Not that I could tell. But I did manage to get a good picture of him.”


I rummage around in a box of photos and pull out the one of GD317. I slide it over to Joanna, who sucks in a shocked breath. GD317’s appearance is striking, to say the least, with that big scar running down the side of his face, one eye white. Battle scar from a fight with an orca whale, perhaps, or some other predator. But there’s something else in the way Joanna takes in the picture, something uncanny that allows me to simply accept what she says next.


“Please. Take me to him.”

Where There Are Cities, These Dissolve Too

Short story in Speculative Los Angeles out February 2, 2021 from Akashic Books

"As an incubator of the future, Los Angeles has long mesmerized writers from Aldous Huxley to Octavia E. Butler. With its natural disasters, Hollywood artifice, staggering wealth and poverty, and urban sprawl, one can argue that Los Angeles is already so weird, surreal, irrational, and mythic that any fiction emerging from this place should be considered speculative. So, bestselling author Denise Hamilton commissioned fourteen stories (including one of her own) and did exactly that. In Speculative Los Angeles, some of the city’s most prophetic and diverse voices reimagine the metropolis in very different ways.

 

"In these pages, you’ll encounter twenty-first-century changelings, dirigibles plying the suburban skies, black holes and jacaranda men lurking in deep suburbia, beachfront property in Century City, walled-off canyons and coastlines reserved for the wealthy, psychic death cults, robot nursemaids, and an alternate LA where Spanish land grants never gave way to urbanization.

 

"As with our city-based Akashic Noir Series, each story in Speculative Los Angeles is set in a distinct neighborhood filled with local color, landmarks, and flavor. Since the best speculative fiction provides a wormhole into other worlds while also commenting on our own, that is exactly what you’ll find here." (Akashic Books)

Join us for a launch party panel on February 3 at 6 pm Pacific! I'll be speaking with Denise Hamilton, Stephen Blackmoore, and Ben Winters on the inspirations for our story and what makes Los Angeles so compelling to us.

The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

Graphic novel adaptation out May 11, 2021 from Talos Press

The second in a new series of graphic novels from Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin and Talos Press

"The life-bringing sun is on track to have a catastrophic helium flash within the next four hundred years, which would wipe the Earth from the universe entirely. To survive, humanity constructs massive engines on Earth that keep running nonstop, gradually taking Earth out of the Sun’s orbit. Braking, escaping, and hostile living conditions wear down humanity’s hope. People who believe that civilization has already been destroyed form a rebel faction, carrying out a ruthless execution of those who still believe that the Sun will undergo a helium flash.

"The second of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, The Wandering Earth is an epic tale of the future that all science fiction fans will enjoy." (Talos Press)

The Village Teacher by Liu Cixin

Graphic novel adaptation out May 25, 2021 from Talos Press

The third in a new series of graphic novels from Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin and Talos Press

"In the depths of mountains shrouded with ignorance and superstition, a man dedicates his life to igniting a passion for science and culture in children’s hearts. As his life draws to an end, he uses his dying breaths to impart knowledge on others. Fifty thousand lightyears away, in the depths of outer space, an interstellar war that has lasted for twenty thousand years draws to an end. In order to preserve the Milky Way’s many civilizations, the victor begins to exterminate lower-level life forms. When they reach Earth, they pose a test. The eighteen children deep in the mountains use the last lesson their teacher taught them to shine bright the hope of civilization…

"The third of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, Sea of Dreams is an epic tale that all science fiction fans will enjoy." (Talos Press)

Que vagi bé

Short story in Professor Charlatan Bardot's Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World out June 2021 from Dark Moon Books

Professor Charlatan Bardot guides you through dozens of haunted buildings, none of which are houses! Here's an excerpt of my story, set in Barcelona with a haunted restaurant:

 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to look up how to properly summon a spirit. Sure, there are books about it—I read them in the aisles of Librería Gigamesh, hoping to absorb information before anyone could ask me why or shoo me away for treating the bookstore like a library. But even though there are lots of people who claim to have a reliable method for contacting the dead, there’s little to no verifiable evidence that summoning a spirit is actually possible.

 

I’m in uncharted territory. I keep my mind open as I kneel before the summoning circle I’ve cobbled together. It’s more of an oval, really: a shaky sea salt line with a few scented candles (all we have at home), some oranges, and a few fresh persimmons. There’s also a copy of Kung Fu Hustle, the most powerful representation of Big Auntie Energy I can think of. Oh, and I tossed in a pack of Djarum Black clove cigarettes for good measure.


All right. Lighting the candles now, one by one. Jasmine, cedar, juniper, vanilla. A strange but weirdly familiar mix of smells. I glance around and remind myself that it doesn’t matter if I look crazy doing this, as there’s no one around to witness me.


For now.


“Uh…”


The juniper candle flickers.


“I’m not really sure what I need to say here, but…”


An idea strikes me. I give the pack of cigarettes a good couple of smacks, then take one out. The sweet scent of cloves layers over the already rich smellscape. When I light the cigarette by the flame of the cedar-scented candle, the smoke adds the last note to complete the perfume of the scene.


I sit back and wait, the cigarette between my fingers. I’m tempted to take a drag, but I don’t smoke. Instead, I take deep breaths. One, then another. One more, in, out; in…


“Oh, shit.”


An ember has ashed off the end of the cigarette and burned a hole in my sweats. Cursing, I look around the room and don’t see anything that can be used as an ashtray. Sighing, I extinguish the cigarette by dunking it into the pool of wax around the wick of the vanilla candle.

 

OOH. NOW THAT’S A FLAVOR I HAVEN’T TRIED.

 

“Què collons?” I say. Bewildered, I stand up and spin around, looking for anyone who could have said something. The fan hums innocently as it circulates air through my bedroom.

 

I’m still alone.

Your Luminous Heart, Bound in Red

Short story out September/October 2021 from Asimov's Science Fiction

Little Red Riding Hood, but make the Big Bad Wolf a werewolf who learns to control his lycanthropy through wolfsbane-infused rope bondage, and it's all a metaphor for toxic masculinity. Here's an excerpt:


You thought it was a one-time thing. You, on your knees, breathing thank you as you rested your cheek against her thigh, ran your hands down her skin, your back still smarting with the echoes of impact. You thought it was a weakness, that you'd wake the next morning feeling a deep shame seated within you, that she'd leave you after seeing you display something as humiliating as vulnerability.


But it turns into something else. Something more. Slowly, then all at once.


It takes you some time to fall into it. I have to go, you say, the first time the sun starts to set, the first time your blood begins to boil. Before, you might have fantasized about ravaging her, about letting her witness your transformation, the violence its own power, the heat pulsing through you its own thrill. But the way she holds you in her eyes, her hand gentle against your cheek, so grounding—


You leave. You can’t deal with this. Somehow, around her, the brute force you command loses its appeal. You’re teetering at the edge of a cliff, looking down at some depth you can’t comprehend, and you’ll never tell her that you’re scared of taking the plunge.


So you run.


The sun’s rays arc long and low over the horizon. You snarl, your brown eyes going gold, everything too much, too much. You leave the city, hurl yourself into the forest, where everything is quieter, where the smells aren’t so overwhelming. You wore the clothes you don’t care about today because you woke with an ache like your whole body was being squeezed, crushed, and you knew it would happen tonight. You knew you had to be prepared for when your hands turn into claws that shred the cotton away from your chest when your whole body shudders, trembles, transforms


You take a deep breath, and, as the sky goes from crimson to an inky purple-blue, you howl.

Current Projects

I am happy to take on additional freelance projects. However, I currently have the ones below scheduled. Please keep in mind when hiring me that I prefer to space my deadlines apart for a manageable workload, so these deadlines will come first.

《景恒街》作者:笛安

Novel translation of Jingheng Street by Di An on behalf of FT Culture. 150,000 characters (approximately 94,000 words). Due February 28, 2021.

Untitled short story

Solicited short story for CLINAMEN. 5,000–8,000 words. Due April 1, 2021.

In the Shadow of the Mountain

Novella #2 for Tordotcom Publishing. Approximately 40,000 words. Due May 1, 2021.

《远道苍苍·上》作者:刘怀宇、刘子毅

Novel translation on behalf of FT Culture. 187,000 characters (approximately 117,000 words). Due October 1, 2021.

Other Projects

December Seas

My erotica pen name. I self-publish trauma-informed, kink-aware, queer BDSM with people of color. I also have free courses and merch like stickers and jewelry available.

Arsenika

I publish flash fiction (1,000 words and under) and poetry in Arsenika, a journal for liminal, gleaming stories from the margins.

microverses

I publish microfiction (280 characters and under) and micropoetry (8 lines and under) at microverses, a hub for tiny speculative fiction.