A Win from the Margins #RequiresLove

With the whole Sad/Rabid Puppies and the RH/BS incident, it’s been a rough year for Speculative Fiction writers (and fans) who were hoping for some civility of dialogue in our chosen genre. Sadly, no sooner had the followers and admirers of Vox Day been given a Hugo drubbing and Laura J. Mixon won the Best Fan Writer award for “A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names”, when prolific SFF author Sarah Hoyt denigrated Liu Cixin, the first Chinese winner of the Hugo for best novel (for The Three-Body Problem) as a “Chicom” writer (this is a derogatory and racist Vietnam War era term for Communist Chinese).

A part of me wonders how much of this bile is native to the genre (perhaps due to long-seated personal and professional rivalries) and how much is actually a reflection of the deep conservative/liberal divide in American politics. As an outsider who comes from the kind of country looked upon by the West as “savage” (check out the odiously yellow-peril “No Escape”), I am often astounded how dialogue can quickly degenerate into mud-slinging in the United States. We get our share of ugly fights too but rarely this rabid and self-damaging.

In her acceptance speech, Mixon said:  “There’s room for all of us here. But there is no middle ground between “we belong here” and “no you don’t,” which is what I hear when people disrespect members of our community. I believe we must find non-toxic ways to discuss our conflicting points of view.”

That really is the key to moving forward – Detoxifying SFF. Someone needs to call a giant time-out and put everyone in a corner until we can talk too each other like conscientious, responsible people. But I guess as a SFF writer myself, this may be just a naive fantasy I am spinning. Perhaps this is something that will never come true, perhaps the idea of peace in SFF is nothing but vaporware. But isn’t this an ideal that is worth striving for? I really don’t think any writer or fan deserves any of this poison.

I will end this by posting a link to the text and a video of Laura J. Mixon’s Hugo acceptance speech. I am so proud to have contributed a small part in getting this message through. As she said: “In the end, we don’t win this struggle with hate. We win it with curiosity, joy, honesty, persistence, resistance, and love.”

For #ThrowbackThursday

For #ThrowbackThursday, #TBT I am sharing the cover and the first page of Hu Shaoyan’s Chinese translation of “Blessed Are the Hungry” which originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Science Fiction World. Western readers may find the cover artwork familiar (“Spring Day is Coming” by Liu Junwei) as it also appeared as the cover of Clarkesworld issue 105 later that year.

My First Children’s Book “Here be Dragons” Launching on 21 Aug

COVER - Here Be Dragons

After a much extended wait “Here be Dragons” is finally finished! This story was written over the course of one coffee-fueled night and finished just in time to meet the deadline. It was inspired by the work of Jorge Luis Borges and based on one of the stories that I used to tell my kids to get them to go to sleep. To my great surprise and delight, it won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Storytelling competition in 2012.

The illustrations that accompany the text were painted in oil by the remarkable neo-surrealist Jon Jaylo whose works have been inspired by Rene Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí and William Bougereau.

Art by Jon Jaylo Inside the Library (18x18 inches)

Interestingly, I moonlight as an Art writer for catalogues and monographs. When I first met Jon during his first solo show in Singapore (Artesan Gallery), I did not tell him that I had submitted a story to the Romeo Forbes competition.   He had no idea that the person who did his show’s write-up wrote fiction nor that we would eventually end up doing a book together.

Alongside my English text is a translation in Filipino by four-time Palanca Award-winning author Raymund “Rhandee” Magno Garlitos who is himself an author of several children’s books (Chenelyn! Chenelyn!, Ang Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki).

“Here be Dragons” joins the library of children’s books by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), a non-profit , non-government organization dedicated to promoting Filipino Art and Culture. CANVAS also provides these books to kids in hospitals and schools in underprivileged areas.

Thank you so much to Gigo Alampay (the indefatigable head of CANVAS), Jon, Rhandee and the Romeo Forbes judges!

Pat, Isabella and Sophia. You all appear in the book in some form. This one’s for you.

Lastly, if you are in Manila on Friday 21, August 2015 please come down at 5 pm for the book launch at the Canvas Gallery and Garden, 1-C Upsilon Drive Ext., Alpha Village
Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila Philippines 1119

Update: Thank you to everyone who came to the launch! More pictures can be seen here: Here be Dragons launch at Canvas