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 Submission: Closed and Submissions Update

Hey everyone,

So now submissions for StarShipSofa are closed. Please do not send me any further submissions, and any sent will be deleted unread. I hate having to do this, so please don’t make me do it.

But anyway, thank you so much to everyone who submitted. I’m not going to disclose how many I got, but let’s just say that I received enough stories to last StarShipSofa for several years. Several, several years, in fact. So obviously this means I’ve got a massive wealth of stories to choose from and I’m looking forward to it.

But it’s going to take some time. More than I anticipated.

By my count, I got at least twenty stories of the novella-ish length. That’s around 15-20k of words each, multiplied by twenty. That’s easily the size of one of the longer A Song of Ice and Fire books, and that doesn’t include the other submissions, many of which are pretty damn long in their own right. But I’m not complaining: I asked for long submissions and I got ’em. But it’s going to take some time to read through them all.

Am I going to finish all these beasts? No. But I will definitely read for as long as I can, as a writer myself I know that the ending can make or break a story, and I’m not one to read a couple of paragraphs and instantly smash the big ol’ red reject button. But there does come a point when I’m prettttty sure I’m not going to pick this story up. But a lot of the time I can’t justify an answer unless I’ve gotten to the end, or near it. So please, be patient with me and I’ll have an answer for you sooner or later.

That’s it for now. Thank you all again for allowing me to consider your stories.

– Jeremy Szal

New Publication: Grimdark Magazine Issue #2

Issue 2 of Grimdark Magazine was released earlier this month, and I’m super excited. Why? Because I have a publication in it.

This isn’t just any other venue. This a professional venue, one that’s on the standards of the SFWAs. They’ve published incredible authors such as Mark Lawrence, Adrian Tchaikovsky, but in Issue #2 of the magazine they’ve published R. Scott Bakker, Kameron Hurley, Richard K. Morgan, and more. And guess what?

I’m published there too!

Goodreads*sniffles*

I honestly can’t say how stoked I am to have my name alongside theirs. I’ve been a fan of R. Scott Bakker for a while now (reading about the controversy is books have stirred is amusing), Kameron Hurley is a Hugo award winner of incredible work that’s also been “slammed” by a someone we shall call Requires Attention. (That’s all I’ll say. Google is your friend – or in this case, your enemy), and I’m a huge follower of Richard K. Morgan and his work. He’s actually worked on the videogames Crysis 2 and Syndicate. He’s written work that’s considered to be a classic in science-fiction and fantasy. In fact, his novel, Altered Carbon, is getting turned into a film by James McTeigue, the director of V for Vendetta.

And I’m published alongside them. In a professional SF/F magazine dedicated to grimdark.

Even now I’m still busy wrapping my brain around it. Sitting in a boiling hot room, pounding away a cheap keyboard in the summer holidays, I never dreamed I’d be up to this point. And I am.

But I’m just getting started.

You can pick up the issue of the magazine here, on the home website. It’s also on Amazon, smashwords, etc, so pick where you’d like, but remember that this is a new publication that’s going pro straight out of the bat. Do what you can to support them, so grabbing it from the home website would be much better for ’em.

Also, if you could nab along to Goodreads, give it the appropriate rating, and add it to your list, that would be swell, too.

Thanks for reading, folks!

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