For me, 2020 felt slow, and at times painful, frustrating, and confusing. It was easy to compare myself with others who seemed to be having lots of short fiction publishing success, and feel demoralised. However, when I cast my mind back to where I was a mere one year ago, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come in a short space of time. I am immensely grateful: not only for my writing journey, but for the security of my day work and living situation, and for the support systems around me.
Here are the things I’ve published in 2020. My novelette, Jigsaw Children, is eligible for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and grants me eligibility for the Astounding Award.
13,000 words. A science fiction novelette set in twenty-second century Hong Kong, about gene splicing, mothers, attachment, and identity.
I think I’m reasonably lucky, only having five parents. I guess my donors didn’t have too many risk mutations. Some of my classmates have been spliced together from eight, nine, even twelve donors. I don’t envy them the task of juggling their Chinese New Year dinners.
Aurealis (Issue 29, Apr 2020)
2500 words. A short story touching on themes of brain connectome mapping, illness, immigration, and the things that parents pass on to their children.
He removes his shoes and places them neatly next to his father’s black sneakers.
His father’s voice floats from the kitchen. ‘Henry. How’s work?’
‘Fine, Ba. I’ve taken a few days off.’
‘Just to help me clean? Are you sure that’s a good idea?’
Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (Issue #79, Jun 2020)
5000 words. A far future science fiction story about inequality and powerlessness. A solitary, empathetic ethnographer travels to a far-flung planet and gradually discovers hidden ruptures in the alien society.
I step down from the Linnaeus into a crimson haze creased with shadows. The wind howls like a banshee symphony. At once, I understand why the Vullon have no hearing organs: the noise of this alien planet inspires madness.
Of Hunger and Fury
Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Omnium Gatherum (Sep 2020)
3600 words. A Malaysian Chinese gothic horror story. When Fen Fang returns to her family home in Malaysia, long-forgotten ghosts begin to creep into her skin.
When I see my mother standing in the front yard, two decades disappear in a blink. I can hardly bear to look at the faded white walls, the creeping lattice of vines like bloated veins. She pulls the metal gate open. Her bare wrists look strangely vulnerable. My husband bounds over to her, grasps her hand in both of his, leans in to peck her cheek.
Mother of the Trenches
Unnatural Order, CSFG Publishing (Dec 2020, available to pre-order)
2700 words. A quirky, tentacled, symbiotic, fantasy tale about power, knowing yourself, ocean pollution, and deep, dark places.
You turn your little eyes to me, taking in my massive shapelessness, the dark patterns shifting over my skin, and my many arms, coiled around us like a nest—protecting, tasting, thinking. Your gaze flicks upwards and crosses paths with mine.
Your fear turns into disgust.
If you’d told me a couple of years ago that I’d have short fiction in two dream Aussie SFF venues, I wouldn’t have dared to believe it! The Ethnographer and Father’s House are very different stories, but both were a challenge and a joy to write. I feel very lucky to have had them edited and published by Andromeda Spaceways and Aurealis, respectively. And, of course, I’m perpetually over the moon that Clarkesworld accepted Jigsaw Children–which, now that I reflect on it, has many thematic overlaps with Every Version of You.
As I spent a large portion of the year studying for a specialty exam, I didn’t get to write and submit as much as I’d hoped. But with the exam well and truly behind me now, I’m set to dive into structural edits for EVOU and more short fiction projects!
As always, thanks for reading and lingering for a little while. May the end of your 2020 be reflective, restorative, and as peaceful as can be in these times.