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.

 

 

StarShipSofa Submissions: An update

This is my first time reading slush, and it’s lovely to see all the fantastic submissions pouring in. And ¡Ay, caramba!, I’ve come across some ripping stories. It’s an absolute joy to see this talent blooming, by both new authors and established authors alike.

I’ve already sent out a handful of acceptances, as well as a few rejections. Sending a rejection sucks just as much as receiving one, and I always try to pin-point what I personally didn’t like about the submission, or my reason for rejecting it. Remember, it’s just my opinion, and someone’s already picked it up, so you’re already on the right track.

But please, do remember to follow the guidelines. I’ve had a few submissions where the original publication venue is not listed, it’s addressed to “dear editor(s)” (despite the fact that my name is on the email address itself, and last time I checked I don’t have a double, as much as I’d like one). The latter I can forgive, but the former I cannot. I need to know if it was self-published by a vanity press, or if Ellen Datlow picked it up for her Tor anthology. It makes a big difference, and I will not read the work unless you follow these guidelines. Yes, it sucks, but I don’t have the time to trace its origin when I’ve got another 50 submissions from people who did follow the guidelines. It’s not fair on anyone. But overall I’ve had nothing but fantastic work and marvelous people, so keep that up.

This is the way I sort out the submissions. When the stories come in, I read from the earliest sent. I keep reading, and sometimes I’ll know immediately that this is a story I cannot let go, and I’ll email over the acceptance. Other times I’ll sadly have to send over a rejection immediately, as the story is not what I’m looking for. But most of the time, I’ll read the story and like it, and move it to the “Maybe/further consideration pile”. This means your story has a fighting chance, but I need to weigh it up amoungst the other submissions in the pile and decide against those merits. So basically, if you haven’t heard from me, you’ve moved to the maybe pile. The longer I hold on, the better. And I’m getting a lot of submissions, sometimes clocking it at 18,000 words, and for the most part can’t justify a response unless I’ve gotten to the end.

So, that’s it from Szal towers for now. Keep those submissions rollin’ and I’ll have an answer for you…sooner or later.

– Jeremy Szal

Something VERY, VERY big coming to StarShipSofa

So, me and Tony have been teasing this one out over the last couple of weeks. Something MASSIVE will be docking at the StarShipSofa. What, may you ask? That, I cannot say. However, I can tell you that it includes one of the biggest and coolest authors of modern SF/F today. It was bloody hard even reaching out to them, and negotiating was akin to walking on a tightrope made out of dental floss.

But I managed to secure a story from them, and I’m over the moon, man. And so is Tony, believe me. And our narrator, Nick Camm did a cracking job of the story. He always does, but he put everything he had into it.

And I can also tell you that getting the green light was only half the deal. Getting hold of the story was another matter entirely. It was extremely unconventional, and all four of us, (that being me, Tony, Nick and the author in question) had to work hard to get it done. But now it’s complete and I’m super stoked to hear the response.

Come on, tell us, I can hear you whining. Nope. Sorry, no go. Approximately only five or six people are aware of what’s coming, and we plan to keep it that way. Yes, it really is that big. I can guarantee with my life that you know this author and the work that they’ve done. But my lips are sealed.

Look out for it on Wednesday! June 3rd will be the day!

Until then…..

Jeremy

New Anthologies and artwork

So, it’s been a busy few weeks for me. With university trying to drive me mad (only a few weeks left thankfully) and meeting writing deadlines, I haven’t had much chance to enjoy my completed work. I did go to the EB Expo herein Sydney on Saturday (and that was great) but otherwise I haven’t had many chances to sit back and see the fruits of my labour. Until now.

I was browsing the iTunes page of The New Accelerator. I have a reprint in their second issue. Anyway, I saw this:

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Marvelous.

Honestly, I was just stunned by how good it was. I’ve seen some pretty horrendous artwork. The sort that makes you realize that we as humans have already lost. And people pay a lot of money for it. Your book will be judged by your cover, and so I was thrilled to be getting something this awesome. And they were paying me to be in the anthology! Honestly, I’d have paid for artwork like this.

There’s the proper file (without my name) here:

Amd a-dome-of-chromeAnd I adore the planets and moon in the background, as well as the climbable trees and cluster of domes. I won’t lie when I say that I had a very different image in my mind when I wrote the story, but this is damned good and I’m loving it. When people read your work carefully enough so that they adsorb the details (like the trees and opaque domes) you know you’re onto a great thing.

The actual issue isn’t available yet, but you can subscribe to them through the iStore and read it on any iOs device here.

And the cover art for the Issues themselves are incredible (note this is just a trial issue, hence the lack of many names).issue0cover

But that’s not all.

I sent a story to Bards and Sages Quarterly back in January. I didn’t expect to get accepted. They’re a print magazine after all. But I did, and this is the cover art:

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I’ll admit, it’s not groundbreaking, but again, I didn’t pay for it and I was surprised to get in, considering how big it is (they even have a Wikipedia page). It’ll be in print soon, but an e-copy is available right here in any format you like.

So, that’s it for now. I’m over the moon at the fantastic art for A Dome of Chrome, and I’m also looking forward to holding the print anthology of Bards and Sages in my hands.

 

First Book launch event

On Thursday we had the launch of UNSW’s annual anthology, aka UNSWeetened 2014. I had a story that managed to get into it, which was very much awesome.

The night passed away in a blur of cheese, wine, crackers, signings and lots of discussions about books. It was pleasant, being able to chat to fellow book lovers, ranting on about own our stories and passing the anthologies along to each other to be signed. Yes, it was at university and I’m not exactly having people sleep overnight outside the bookstore to get hold of their copy, but it was fantastic to experience what would hopefully be the first of many events such as these. There’s artwork to go along with each story (some of the stories in the collection are very, very good), and they got sold off to a silent auction for charity. Also, I was told by many people that my work reminded them of Game of Thrones/GRRM, but that was probably just the wine.

I’d like to get hold of some photos (there was a guy taking far too many of them), but I haven’t as of yet. I’ll post ’em if I do get them. In the meantime, a pdf/ebook version of the anthology should appear online soon, but if you, like me, prefer the feel of dead trees, you can pick one up free of charge at the UNSW bookstore. Or, if you’re unfortunate enough to know me in person,  I can give you one myself.

That’s it for now…

 

 

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