29 Apr 2012 2 Comments
The black wolf trots up the mud path, tail swaying slowly. Nose up, eyes an amber, the wolf travels the familiar route.
“You’re late,” a voice comes from a straggly casuarina tree. This far into the year, the casuarina grove is dry, parched for rain. The pine-like needles whisper in the slight breeze. The black wolf stops and sits on her haunches. Her nose breathes in the salt-laced air. Conifers, says another voice deeper in her mind. Convergence evolution.
“Never late,” the wolf replies and becomes a human female, dark of hair, pale of skin. She brushes the sand off her bare skin.
“Oh bah,” the voice from the tree resolves into another female form with short cropped hair and fey features. The women embrace tightly.
“Come, they wait for us,” the fey woman leads the woman formerly a black wolf up the path. “Beltane starts early and we don’t want to waste the fire.”
“You built a fire?”
“Beltane needs fire. Don’t worry. We’ll dowse it and clean up. Responsible pagans we’re!”
Above them, a Boeing 737 prepares to land, its wheels visible. A low roar fills the air, like a waking dragon.
“Yes, Beltane,” the woman itches for her black wolf form, itching to run run run.
“Let’s go. Can’t keep them waiting. We brought curry and a lot of mantou*.”
Together, they walk up the path.
* a kind of Chinese bun.
22 Apr 2012 1 Comment
As most of you will know, Singapore – the country where I was born and raised in – was a colony under the British. She became one of the most lucrative colonies and a portal for ships travelling between Asia and the rest of the world. Much of the structures here – legal, educational and thought – are legacies from that past.
For us, descendants of the migrants who flocked to her shores, we straddle very uncomfortably between the East and the West. We cannot really ignore and forget our colonial past, we the amahs, the coolies, the servants who waited at doors and tables of our colonist masters and mistresses. We loved them. We hated them. We were in an odd and precarious headspace that would take years… generations… to change.
I am a SFF writer and I write in English. I was schooled in British English and our literature texts were Anthony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet. I thought and wrote in English. Fair enough. I also scored well for Literature in the General Cambridge Examinations, both Ordinary and Advanced Levels, both throwbacks from the British. For a while, I felt great. I was fluent in English. Yet, a trip to Glasgow changed all that. While I chatted amiably to a sales-lady about our majors (medieval history, by the way), a man came up beside and just stared as if I had just crawled out from the sewers like some crocodile monster. I was Chinese and I spoke perfect English.
Should I blame the British colonial past? Should I hate them for turning me into this hybrid, a straddler between worlds?
When I got to know about We See A Different Frontier edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril Al-Ayad, I was excited. Finally an anthology to address the issues of colonialism and its consequences! And from the perspectives of the colonized. We SFF writers from “the rest of the world” are often termed as World SF or International SF writers – and many of us are also called post-colonial writers, simply because we all hail from countries formerly colonized by the Western nations like the British, the Dutch and the French. Not all of us like the term “post-colonialism” because it puts us in that category of fiction and stereotypes us. For me, am I going to write about weepy fiction about Chinese women leading dreary, tortured lives before being liberated (!) by white lovers? (I spoke more about this in my essay: http://djibrilalayad.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/w-is-for-world-sf.html). This is what traditional publishing wants to read. This fake voice, engendered by fake restrictions (that bind, mind you).
So, I am going to signal boost about We See A Different Frontier, because it’s time the world hears our voices.
18 Apr 2012 Leave a comment
17 Apr 2012 8 Comments
14 Apr 2012 Leave a comment
I did a ‘reading’ at #feministsf over at Twitter. The excerpt is taken from Speaker, the sequel to Rider.
It is a sneak peak into what’s happening in Speaker. Here in this post, you get a longer version of the reading, with more.
Sarah and Daniel often visited me together. I hated how I would cringe when they appeared at the ICU. I didn’t look good, with my head shaved and all the tubes and wires attached to me as if I was part machine. I wasn’t Lifang. I was some machine with plastic tubes of gurgling liquid and wires for synapses. I raised my right hand and it was attached to an IV-drip. I shifted my torso and it was heavy with the heart-monitor.
Not only that, the nurses at the intensive-care unit were far more vigilant and fussy when it came to visitors. Sarah and Daniel couldn’t stay for long. They had to wear surgical scrubs and masks. Sarah gave me a rock she found during one of her missions. Daniel brought me a book on coastal trees. I spent hours admiring at the pictures and sketches of casuarinas. I memorized them. I made myself remember them even more. I traced the outline of the spiky brown seedpods, the feathery pine-like needles. I drew seedpods all over the book, along its margins and around the edges. Sarah told me that my plot was doing fine and that the saplings were still going strong. To lighten my mood, she loaned me a SOIL database slate so that I could go through the classification to while the time away.
Hope you enjoyed it. 🙂