Book Release: Where the Stars Rise and Asian Science-fiction

It’s not been a bad year, writing wise, but having so much on means I get my attention split between projects. But even so, I’ve always been focused on this one project ever since I was asked to contribute towards it. And almost two years later, it’s out!

Where The Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction & Fantasy is exactly what it sounds like: an anthology that focuses on Asian science-fiction and fantasy, exploring Asian cultures, themes, language, histories and futures. Being from a background Lebanese background, not usually a culture typically associated with Asia like Japan or China, I went for I knew everyone else wouldn’t be writing. So I wrote a spacepunk story set in Turkey, because I could.17352543_10155107326431575_1699043594855734950_n

The dataSultan of Streets and Stars is about Bohdi, young programmer of AIs (dubbed djinn) who’s had to skip Earth when a nasty accident resulting in the death of dozens puts rich-as-hell Arab gangsters on his tail, believing him responsible. Only, Mr. Bohdi is in debt to a dangerous alien bounty hunter, who wants the djinn for himself. And things get…messy.

It was a pleasure to combine cutting-edge technology and cool ideas with Middle-Eastern culture and history. Computer viruses are named are monsters from Islamic mythology, starships are fashioned like Phoenician ships, and tech-centres are constructed like Ottoman buildings. And food. Lots of baklava and lokum. When I build a world, I want it to inhabit every sensibility and every character aspect, and I think I achieved that here.

There’s so few good depictions of Asian cultures, and especially Middle-Eastern cultures, so I’m very proud of this story, and happy it’s in this anthology. And I’m even happier it’s doing so, so well. Here’s some reviews:

“. . . this collection is essential for anyone interested in the diverse and engaging possibilities of fantasy and science fiction.” — Booklist (American Library Association)

“. . . this fascinating collection addresses issues of immigration, dual cultures, and ethnic issues through genre devices such as ghosts, steampunk robots, and planetary exploration. Sf readers looking to discover new voices will enjoy this volume that reflects the eclecticism of Asian culture.” — Library Journal

“This anthology was good, with the majority of the stories being either good or very good page-turners.” — Tangent

And then it gets even better, because two of my favourite authors provided blurbs.

“A wealth of stories running the gamut from poignant to mind-blowing, rewarding journeys both faraway and familiar.”
— Aliette de Bodard, Nebula Award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen saga

Where the Stars Rise is a hell of a lot of fun. Great writers, magnificent storytelling, and worlds I wanted to spend a lot more time in—no matter how dangerous they were. I had a blast reading it.” — Rob Boffard, author of the Outer Earth series (Tracer, Zero-G, Impact)

And then there’s some select quotes from Bloggers and Goodreads reviews:


The complexities of the stories and the characters and the stories will delight readers, but they will also elicit a reaction all too familiar to book lovers everywhere: the stories will leave readers wanting much, much more. I recommend Where the Stars Rise and also encourage this new subset of science fiction and fantasy. – Ekta R. Garg, from The Write Edge


There are historicals, futuristic, space settings, fantasies, Sci-Fi, with male and female protagonists of all ages. I learned about different counties and times and events. I traveled to the moon and other planets. Some stories are funny, some are sad, some have happy endings and others were bittersweet but I’d be willing to bet that readers with even a passing interest in these genres would find a few to appeal and many to enjoy. Overall, a B+- Dear Author Reviews


There are some truly standout pieces; Memoriam by Priya Sridhar, Back to Myan by Regina Kanyu Wang, and The dataSultan of Streets and Stars, by Jeremy Szal were amazing for me. There are many more well written stories included, but just these three alone are worth the price of the anthology.  – NonStop Reader

So people are very much enjoying this anthology, and you will, too. It’s important to boost diverse voices and to support projects that cover international cultures and worlds that are left outside of the mainstream. If you’re interested in Asian cultures, this one is essential.

The website and full retailer list is here. But you can grab it from Bookdepository for free delivery worldwide. Or ask your bookstore to order it in. And do remember to leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. It helps. A lot. More than you think.

 

 

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What I’m Reading, and my conversion (not quite) to Audible

I’ve been reading quite a lot lately. Or rather, listening a lot, since I got Audible and have been tearing through books on the day job. I’d never be able to get through 3 books a week like this. So far I’ve gone through The Quantum Thief (loved it), The Ocean At The End of the Lane (enjoyed it very much) and I’m halfway through Andy Weir’s Artemis (which is…okay so far). There’s so many books I want to get through but don’t have the time to read at home, so I’m loving this.

Other books I’ve read in print have been Broken Monsters, (adored this dark, dark book so so much) and a re-read of the Red Rising series (quite possibly my favourite series ever). I’ve suffered through too many awful and boring reads (looking at you, Provenance) to sit through books I don’t enjoy.

But now I’ve got Audible, and am being smarter about checking out books before I buy, (yeah, the cool kids use the library) I’m tearing through these books. And I always leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon to support the authors and publishers (and you should, too).

Ark of Bones now available! In audio!

https://embed.acast.com/starshipsofa/starshipsofano509jeremyszal

A very, very belated post: but my short story “Ark of Bones” is now available in audio over at StarShipSofa in episode 509. It’s narrated by the wonderful Mikael Naramore, who’s narrated audiobooks by Clive Barker, Nora Roberts, Wesley Chu, and other writers much more talented than me.

His buttery man vocals bring the story to life in ways that put a stupid grin on my face, and I usually can’t listen to audio adaptations of my work. But this one, I’m very much able to hear his rendition of my characters again and again.

This is the short-story version of the YA SF novel that almost got an agent, but didn’t. I was cut up about it, but not enough that I was done with the world. It wouldn’t leave my brain, even a year after the final rejections came through. So I decided to write a shorter, tighter version (and one with a much better endings, methinks). Humans have occupied over the planet of Arkaeyus and segregated the native aliens into a filthy refugee camp that’s getting smaller and smaller as the paramilitary slowly eat away at their rights. This story focuses on a human and his best mate, who happens to be one of these aliens and their investigation as more of these aliens start to disappear.

It’s a little strange, having a story appear at a podcast I edit. I’m very aware of how prevalent nepotism is in this industry. Tony read one of my stories a few months back in the anthology he published, and was interested in putting it on the show. But the rights were taken up, and he asked if I had anything else. I offered up another story on the condition that he decide whether or not it was good enough. He thought it was. I was a hesitant (againn, nepotism), but since this was a solicited piece, and I wasn’t the one making the decision whether it’d run or not, I decided to go through with it.

So. It’s now finally available to stream into your earholes worldwide. It’s one of my favourite stories, and it went through multiple drafts before I even started polishing it.

I first started building this world it during university classes back in 2013, so seeing it all finally come to life in audio is is something pretty special. 🙂