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).
Cover of my second copy of Hexwood. I can’t seem to find the image of my first copy’s cover, which makes me wonder if I’m remembering it wrong.
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 »
First published in The Star on 27th March, 2016
Review by DAPHNE LEE
THE PAPER MENAGERIE AND OTHER STORIES
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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First published on 24th July, 2015 in The Star
Edited by Zen Cho
Publisher: Fixi NOVO
CYBERPUNK? What’s that?” That’s the question that usually follows once customers at the bookstore I work at stops oohing and ahhing over this collection’s silver foil cover. Not many Malaysians I know can define “cyberpunk”. Of those who can, a number probably have stories in this collection.
Cyberpunk, in case you’re wondering, is a subgenre of science fiction. With science fiction one tends to think “Robots! Spaceships! Star Trek!” – you get the idea. But cyberpunk?Read More »
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 »
First published on 4th May, 2014 in The Star
Review by DAPHNE LEE
ON SUCH A FULL SEA
Author: Chang-Rae Lee
Publisher: Riverhead Books
IT seems to me that every month or so, someone will recommend I read yet another book set in some grim, future Earth, its workings – political, religious etc – reflecting, like a carnival mirror, a distorted version of life as we know it, invariably prophesising doom-and-gloom for mankind. These are books that raise worthy questions about life, modern man’s preoccupations and priorities, his choices and mistakes, but altogether too doom-filled for my tastes. I tend to give dystopian fiction wide-berth, preferring to get depressed over more mundane scenarios, like infidelity, bullying and death.
Not that there is none of that in these visions of an apocalyptic future. Life goes on, after all. Humans continue to love and hate, create and destroy, protect and betray. People, it seems, never change, no matter how good or bad things get. I am both disheartened and comforted by this.Read More »