Re-read: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones


My re-read of Diana Wynne Jones IS continuing, I swear, although it keeps getting interrupted by me being in the mood for other books (currently, Qiu Xialong’s Chief Inspector Chen mysteries). After a hugely satisfying Hexwood re-read, I started on the Unexpected Magic anthology, abandoned that and moved on to The Time of the Ghost.

The Time of the Ghost was my very first DWJ, bought in 1986, in Singapore when I was doing my ‘A ‘levels at National Junior College. I seem to remember a table with books laid out on it, at some kind of market or near a hawker centre. I think it was in Jurong West, where I stayed in a rented room. I still have the book I bought (above), a hardback Macmillan edition, with cover art by Maggie Heslop.Read More »

Re-read: Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

This is the first in a series of posts about my re-reading of selected Diana Wynne Jones stories. I will not be reading them in order of publication, but purely according to what I feel like next. I will also not be reading every DWJ book I own (thirty seven in all).

My first DWJ re-read is Hexwood. I read my third copy of the novel. I left my first (paperback) copy on a chair in Amsterdam airport’s departure area while waiting for my connecting flight to Koln. My second copy (also a paperback) was lost somewhere in KL or PJ — I think it may have been in a post office or similar. The copy I have now is a hardback, ex-library edition, published by Methuen in 1993. I was living in England when Hexwood was first published, but I wasn’t aware of it. At that point I had only read The Time of the Ghost, which I had picked up at a flea market in Singapore. I do remember looking for DWJ’s books while living in England, but not finding any. Odd.

Anyway …Read More »

Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

paper menagerieFirst published in The Star on 27th March, 2016

Review by DAPHNE LEE


Author: Ken Liu

Publisher: Saga Press, 464 pages

THE Grace of Kings was my introduction to Ken Liu. It’s the author’s first novel, published in 2015, and the first in a planned “silkpunk” (a variation of steampunk) fantasy series called The Dandelion Dynasty. Kings is a spectacular piece of entertainment – ambitious, original and memorable, the world-building impressive, the characters convincing and sympathetic, and the fantasy elements fresh and surprising.

The problem with discovering an author at the first-novel stage of their career is you usually are in an agony of anticipation, waiting for the next book to come out. Fortunately, in Liu’s case, there is a prodigious body of prior work in the shape of short stories, novellas and novelettes. On top of that Liu is the translator of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem trilogy (the final book is out this September), the first volume of which was the first translated novel to win the Hugo Award (2015).

And then there’s this collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Comprising 15 stories of varying lengths, styles and genres (within the speculative fiction spectrum), it aims to showcase Liu’s development and achievements as a writer of short fiction, but must have been a b**** to compile considering the fact that he has published over 100 stories since 2002.

The inclusion of the titular tale would have, of course, been a no-brainer. In 2012 it won all three of the most prestigious of sci-fi/fantasy prizes: the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards), and it is easily one of my favourites in this compilation.

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Interview: Zen Cho

This interview was first published on the now deleted local blog on 2nd January, 2015


Zen Cho is the author of Spirits Abroad, published by Fixi NOVO, and editor of the imprint’s upcoming Cyberpunk anthology. She is also the self-published author ofThe Perilous Life of Jade Yeo.

This Q&A with Cho was carried out via email and was in danger of going on indefinitely as her answers raised even more questions and also gave me plenty of food for thought …Read More »

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

R2281efed71369a01d8885ddff2281ebcFirst published on 28 October, 2012 in The Star

Author: Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers, 480 pages

THE world is the kingdom of Goredd where, 40 years earlier, a treaty had been signed between man and dragonkind. Since then the communities have coexisted in relative harmony. The dragons are obliged to take human form within the city walls and are forbidden to hoard gold. For younger dragons, knowledge is stored instead, literally, in the form of stacks of books.

Orma is one such dragon. He is a scholar and Seraphina’s music teacher. There is a more complex relationship between the dragon and the book’s main character, but I am going to try to keep this review spoiler-free. I fear this means not saying much about Seraphina herself. She is, naturally, at the centre of much of the action and to reveal too much about her would practically give the plot away. Suffice to say she is the only daughter of a widowed lawyer, the assistant to the court composer, and tutor to the Crown Princess Glisselda.Read More »

Book Review: The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones

the merlin conspiracyFirst published in 2004 in The Star
By Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Collins Voyager, 480 pages
DIANA Wynne Jones. This name should be familiar to those of you who follow my weekly column. I have featured her books often and never miss the chance to say that I think she is a much better writer than J.K. Rowling whose Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rang dozens of bells when I first read it. If you know Jones’s work well, you will see how Rowling’s is so obviously derivative of it in terms of concepts, plots and even characters.

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