Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy


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Recommended by American Library Association (Booklist), Library Journal, and Locus (Gardner Dozois)

2018 Alberta Book Publishing Award Winner (Speculative Fiction Book of the Year)

2018 (Canadian SF&F) Aurora Award Finalist (Best Anthology/Related Work)

One story nominated--2018 World Fantasy Award Best Short Story Finalist

One story selected for The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Volume 3 (ed. by Neil Clarke)


Follow twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors on their journeys through Asia and beyond. Stories that explore magic and science. Stories about love, revenge, and choices. Stories that challenge ideas about race, belonging, and politics. Stories about where we come from and where we are going. Each wrestling between ghostly pasts and uncertain future. Each trying to find a voice in history.

Orphans and drug-smuggling in deep space. Mechanical arms in steampunk Vancouver. Djinns and espionage in futuristic Istanbul. Humanoid robot in steamy Kerala. Monsters in the jungles of Cebu. Historic time travel in Gyeongbok Palace. A rocket launch in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. A drunken ghost in Song Dynasty China. A displaced refugee skating on an ice planet. And much more.

Embrace them as you take on their journeys. And don't look back . . .

AUTHORS: Anne Carly Abad, Deepak Bharathan, Joyce Chng, Miki Dare, S.B. Divya, Pamela Q. Fernandes, Calvin D. Jim, Minsoo Kang, Fonda Lee, Gabriela Lee, Karin Lowachee, Rati Mehrotra, E.C. Myers, Tony Pi, Angela Yuriko Smith, Priya Sridhar, Amanda Sun, Naru Dames Sundar, Jeremy Szal, Regina Kanyu Wang (translated by Shaoyan Hu), Diana Xin, Melissa Yuan-Innes, Ruhan Zhao.

Introduction by Elsie Chapman

Edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak

Anthologies in this series (Strangers Among Us, The Sum of Us, Where the Stars Rise) have been recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist (American Library Association), Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Locus, Foreword Reviews, and Quill & Quire.


"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

"There's a lot of good reading to be found in Where the Stars Rise." --Locus (Gardner Dozois)

"Majority of the stories being either good or very good page-turners." --Tangent

"A wealth of stories running the gamut from poignant to mindblowing, rewarding journeys both faraway and familiar."--Aliette de Bodard, Nebula Award-winning author of 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." --Rob Boffard, author of the Outer Earth series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780993969652
Publisher: Laksa Media Groups Inc.
Publication date: 10/08/2017
Series: Laksa Anthology Series: Speculative Fiction
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 839,012
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Fonda Lee is the award-winning author of Zeroboxer (Flux), which was a 2015 Andre Norton finalist, Junior Library Guild Selection, and ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Her most recently released novel, Exo (Scholastic) is also a Junior Library Guild Selection, with a sequel scheduled for release in Summer 2018. Fonda is a former corporate strategist who worked for or advised Fortune 500 companies before she turned back to her first passion of writing science fiction and fantasy. Born and raised in Calgary, she now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. When not writing, Fonda can be found training in martial arts or searching out tasty breakfasts. She can be found online at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee.

Lucas K. Law is a Malaysian-born freelance editor and published author who divides his time and heart between Calgary and Qualicum Beach. He co-edited two anthologies, Strangers Among Us and The Sum of Us, with Susan Forest. They are currently working on their third anthology, Shades Within Us. With Derwin Mak, Lucas co-edited Where The Stars Rise. He has been a jury member for a number of fiction competitions including Nebula, RITA and Golden Heart awards.When Lucas is not editing, writing, or reading, he is an engineering consultant and business coach, specializing in mergers and acquisition (M&A) activities, asset evaluations, business planning, and corporate development.

Derwin Mak lives in Toronto. His short story "Transubstantiation" won the Aurora Award for Best Short Form Work in English in 2006. He and Eric Choi co-edited The Dragon and the Stars (DAW Books, 2010), the first anthology of science fiction and fantasy by overseas Chinese. It won the 2011 Aurora Award for Best Related Work in English. His two novels The Moon Under Her Feet and The Shrine of the Siren Stone are science fiction that deal with religious themes in Christianity, Shintoism, and Buddhism. Derwin coedited the Speculative Fiction Issue of Ricepaper magazine with JF Garrard in 2014. He and Lucas K. Law co-edited Where The Stars Rise (Laksa Media). He is currently acquiring documents and photographs about Toronto's Chinese Canadian science fiction writers for the Toronto Public Library's Chinese Canadian Archives, a new collection about the history of Toronto's Chinese community.

Read an Excerpt


Spirit of Wine

Tony Pi

In the city of Changsha, Song Dynasty China ...

Catching a sound night's sleep before the prefectural examination? That would be sane.

Forsaking sleep to revisit the Four Books and Five Classics? Commendable prudence.

Yet slipping out to carouse on Market Street?

That was sheer madness.

Be it fever or temptation that lured my sworn brother to this sty they called a tavern, I cared not. Shengming must take and pass this exam, same as me. The prefectural exams were administered once every three years. Fail and we could not take the metropolitan exams in the capital next year. Fail and our dreams would dash like lacquer upon rock.

To my chagrin, Shengming sat chortling in the company of three heavyset men, the table before them cluttered with overturned plates and broken cups. Oblivious to my arrival, he waved in waiters laden with plates of lychee, fried chestnuts and roasted duck, lifted his bowl high and poured millet wine into his grease-smeared mouth. Half his drink spilled down his face, but he finished with a chuckle and swiped his sleeve across his wispy beard. "More wine, Old Boss," he hollered in slurred words.

Across the crowded room, Old Boss bobbed his head like a fat pigeon and dispatched his wife to the task. I hoped he wasn't expecting a decent profit from Shengming tonight. Unless my sworn brother suddenly came into a fortune, he was as poor as I was and could never afford his share of excesses. I hadn't the money to cover his shortfall, but perhaps I could talk sense into his head. With a sigh, I pushed through the throng of patrons to confront my sworn brother.

I wrapped fist-in-hand in greeting. "Kind First Brother, we must go," I pleaded. "If we are to take the exams tomorrow morning —"

Shengming barely acknowledged my arrival. Regarding me with a strange, blank look, he took a bite of a lychee fruit and spat the peel at my feet. "Who in the Hells are you?"

I reddened. "It's Ruolin, of course!" How could he not recognize me? We had been inseparable since we were ten, pushed one another into more mischief than I could remember. We had sworn an oath, burned the contract to register our brotherhood with the heavens, and drank wine mingled with our blood.

"This your brother?" Shengming muttered to himself, making no sense at all. How much had he drunk?

I grabbed my sworn brother by the shoulders. "Shengming, sober up!"

"He doesn't know you, friend." Shengming's long-faced drinking companion jabbed a duck leg in my face. "That's as clear as the mole on your nose."

I fought the instinct to shield my nose, to wilt beneath the stare of fat eyes from every table. Heads tilted to hear us, gamblers murmured bets on whether I would throw the first punch. Instead, I rolled back my right sleeve and displayed the proverb inked in green on my inner forearm: love wine like life.

* * *

"He knows me. Why else would he bear the same tattoo, done by the same hand?" The night before we came of age, we had been so drunk that we awakened with more than a hangover. Which of us chose the phrase and why, neither of us could remember, but we laughed and took it as a sign of our unbreakable bond.

Shengming smiled crookedly and lifted his arm, letting his sleeve fall from his skin to prove my claim. "Love wine like life!" he roared and slapped the table. "Delightful, utter delight. I've decided to like you, Ruolin. Join us!"

One of his companions, the rotund one, frowned. "What, you paying for him too?"

Shengming was treating them to the meal? Even if he and I pooled our money together, we would never be able to pay for all this.

"Pay? Huh, forgot about that." Shengming searched through the folds of his clothes and found a small pouch. With great aplomb, he emptied the contents onto the tabletop. Out fell a few paltry coppers.

"Aiah," the owner cried. "Who's paying for all you've eaten?"

Shengming's long-faced friend rose to his feet, towering over us. "Not us. This bastard told us he'd cover it."

Unfazed, Shengming drank from his bowl. "So we split the bill, Horse-Face. What's the big deal?"

I really wished I had clamped my hand over Shengming's mouth.

Horse-Face's hands balled into fists. "What did you call me?"

"You heard me," Shengming answered, his words slurred. "You, Ox-Rump and Pig-Fart, should just pay your fair share."

Spurred by Shengming's new insults, the other brutes leapt to their feet, but I surprised them by falling to my knees and kowtowing to them. Had it been anyone else, I might have left him to learn from the beatings to come, but this was First Brother.

"Honoured gentlemen: I, the insignificant, beg you forgive my First Brother for his thoughtless words," I said in my meekest voice. Not that I could fault Shengming for such apt descriptions of the three, but I knew better than to voice those thoughts. "Whenever he drinks, the wine in turn consumes him. Please, take all he says to be drunken jests. I will find a way to pay for all he owes."

Horse-Face grabbed a fistful of robe and hoisted me to my feet. "You better."

"Hells, you'll do no such thing." Shengming spat on the ground. "They eat, they pay."

"See how he turns witless when he's drunk?" I said.

"Shengming, we must settle the account and go. If we linger here, we'll miss the exams!"

Shengming spat on the ground again. "Why should we care about boring exams when the wine still calls to us? Drink with me, Ruolin."

I could not believe what he had just said. "Have you forgotten your promise? When your father took ill, you prayed that he might live to see you enter the civil service, to see you bring honour to your family. By divine grace he convalesced, but you must keep your oath to the gods, First Brother."

Shengming ignored me and squinted at his bowl instead. "Empty. Pig-Fart, pour me another!"

Pig-Fart's face contorted and he unleashed his fist straight at Shengming's face.

Miraculously, the blow did not connect. In his drunken stupor, Shengming toppled backward off his stool, landing with a crash. Almost as swiftly as he fell, he staggered to his feet and looked around in confusion. "I seem to have misplaced my bowl."

Horse-Face roared and tossed me with one hand onto the next table, startling the patrons. Grabbing a stool, he hurled it at Shengming, but by stupendous luck, my sworn brother swayed just enough for it to sail harmlessly past his ear.

I rolled off the tabletop just as customers scurried to the edges of the room to avoid the brawl. By now, Ox-Rump had jumped into the thick of the fight, but Shengming still seemed oblivious to the danger. Pig-Fart barred the way, Horse-Face grasped to catch hold of Shengming, and Ox-Rump sought to pummel my blood brother into the dust. Yet Shengming was a drunkard on a singular mission: stumbling haphazardly left and right, he sidestepped punches that could break his jaw, somersaulted between Horse-Face's tree-trunk legs, all so that he could regain his feet in front of the owner's wife and snatch the pot of wine from her.

I could not believe my eyes. What I had taken for luck had not been that at all, but well-disguised fighting skill. Was this Zui Quan, Drunken Boxing? If so, how could Shengming have learned it?

The wiser customers had long fled, while the not-so-wise at least had the presence of mind to take cover.

"All at once," Horse-Face shouted, and they converged on Shengming. Horse-Face grabbed high, Pig-Fart tackled low, and OxRump circled behind. Their concerted effort paid off: Shengming could not avoid them all. As they struggled to hold my sworn brother, who fought back with supernatural strength, the pot of wine he dropped in the heat of battle rolled to a stop at my feet.

"My wine!" Shengming reached toward me even as his three attackers brought him down.

I picked up the ceramic pot, not sure what to do with it. Diplomacy hadn't worked, and I had no love of violence. But to save Shengming's life —

"Love wine like life," Shengming shouted.

I felt as though the sky and earth had turned upside down and upended me into a vat of heavenly wine. I had to drink, drink, drink lest I drown.

The phantom wine coursed through me, warmed me, oozed from my pores. Like a spirit, it wore my skin like silk. I was at the mercy of the ghost's whims and thirsts; it lifted the pot of wine and pressed my lips to the ceramic. The spirit stole my voice and spoke in a liquid slur: "Aaaaaah, at last."

Anguish darkened Shengming's face. "No, don't take Ruolin! Can't you just leave us alone?"

Oh, now he recognized me.

I tried calling his name (Shengming!), but the words echoed in my head like a holler into an empty vat.

The spirit winced with my face. "Don't shout."

The brutes must have sensed Shengming weakening. "Hold him. He won't have a face when I'm through," Horse said to Ox and Pig. He let go and began rolling up his sleeves.

I, or rather we, took drunken steps and smashed the container of wine over the back of Horse's head. The oaf went limp and fell forward on top of Shengming, but the unwelcomed guest in my body cared only that the pot had cracked open, and held it up so the stream of Shaoxing rice wine poured straight into our mouth.

With Shengming trapped under Horse's weight, Ox and Pig released their holds on him and grabbed for us-both, but our knees gave out and we fell out of their grasp flat on our ass. The better fighter of the pair, Ox tried to kick us, but thanks to the spirit's Drunken Boxing we-both pushed off the ground and tottered backward. None of Ox's strikes landed.

I caught the stink of feces above the reek of wine.

Look out. I cried in my mind's voice.

The spirit heard and ducked us-both beneath a punch from behind, spun around to face the reeking Pig and sprayed a mouthful of wine into the fat man's eyes. Blinded, Pig swung wildly at us, but we merely stepped aside and slapped the man silly.

Roaring in anger, Ox grabbed a stool and swung it at us-both, and would have hurt us but for someone catching his foot. Shengming had somehow freed himself from under Horse and tripped Ox! Using Ox's own momentum, we-both sent him crashing into Pig. They fell together into unconsciousness.

Who are you? I shouted at the spirit.

We-both smiled and struck a wobbly pose, hands seemingly cupped around invisible vessels of wine.

"Who am I?

I'm thirst and craving, the loosened tongue; I'm all troubles fled, fast friend and quick anger; I champion folly, sing melancholy songs; I'm the Spirit of Wine, God of the Drunken Fist: I am You Shén!"

When we-both began giving that mad speech, the tavern fell deathly silent. Those who could sneak out, did. Only Shengming took the courage to speak to us-both.

"YÇ'u Shén, spare Ruolin, please," he pleaded, still sounding drunk. "I do not care whether I take the exam, but he must. He'll go as far as the palace exams, I know it."

Thank you, First Brother, I tried to say, but my mouth would not obey.

The spirit heard me, however. "It's me you should thank. Life as a bureaucrat is a fate worse than death! You know what life's true pleasures are? Flowers in heaven, wine on earth; lanterns red, spirits green," You Shén said, quoting two proverbs.

Those are fleeting, selfish joys that lead only to shame! I cried. When Shengming and I become Doctors of Letters, we will bring honour and security to our families.

As the owner picked up pieces of broken ceramic and bamboo, a whimper escaped his lips, only to grow into a scream. "Look what you did to my tavern, you sons of bitches! Get out!"

You Shén blinked and surveyed at the damage. "Huh, I guess we made a mess." We-both bent over Ox-Rump and searched him, and laughed when our fingers closed around a pouch full of coins. Weboth tossed it to the owner. "This ought to pay for it, Old Boss."

"The exams —" Shengming protested.

"Forget them," You Shén said. He slung our arm around Shengming, our weight bearing down on his shoulders. "Come, let us find another place to drink away the night together!" With Shengming in tow, we-both lurched toward the door.

"I'm so sorry, Second Brother, I was just after a drink to calm my nerves, not this," Shengming said, his voice full of remorse. "You must write the exam. If you find the chance, run."

* * *

We stumbled across the granite road to a different restaurant, but news of our fight spread ahead of us through the shops on Taiping Jie, and we were turned away at the door. You Shén shrugged and tried the next, but we were met with the same refusal. The spirit was growing upset.

"You Shén, try the one with the birdcage outside," Shengming urged. "They're rivals with Old Boss Tao." Listen to him, I said. We need to get out of sight before the city guard arrives.

Though drunk, You Shén heeded our advice. When we entered the new restaurant, the sweaty owner welcomed us with a smirk. "Honoured guests! Eat, drink on the house ... so long as you don't smash up my place like you did Tao's."

"Wouldn't think of it," You Shén said, pinching the owner's cheek. "You, sir, are the soul of generosity."

"Er, thank you?" The man ushered us through the half-empty restaurant to a table hidden under the stairs. As promised, he kept the wine flowing, and we-both kept guzzling. But Shengming would not drink.

"You must. Two drunks together are better than a drunk alone!" You Shén said, and laughed.

Still, Shengming refused. Even when You Shén forced the cup to his lips, Shengming kept his mouth shut and turned away in disgust.

You Shén sneered. "Won't do. Love wine like life!"

With the proverb uttered, I felt the spirit leave my body. But before I could rejoice, a pounding headache and a sudden fatigue hit me. Although the world was still spinning around me, my head felt somewhat less muddled.

Shengming, on the other hand, closed his eyes and began to swig like a thirsty fish.

This was my chance to escape, I realized, but could I abandon Shengming, even though he wished it? Five years ago, we would have been content to drink our lives away. But the triumphs of the Song Army against the Jurchens in the north had returned stability in this province, allowing Yuelu Academy to reopen years ahead of expectations. We decided then to devote ourselves to scholarship and make something of our lives. I could not leave him like this.

Yet this spirit would hold us prisoner for his own amusement. I understood the logic behind Shengming wanting me to run: having one of us take the exams was better than neither of us taking them. I did not like the thought of abandoning him, but I could not let his noble sacrifice come to naught.

I slipped onto my hands and knees and scurried toward the exit. I made it across the floor to the threshold when I heard Shengming's voice: "But Ruolin, my friend, you can't go yet. We've songs to sing!" He shouted the proverb again, and the Spirit of Wine slopped back into me and made us crawl back to Shengming, who was retching up what he had been forced to drink.

As the night wore on, You Shén would flitter between us, keeping us drunk and bellowing bawdy songs. The spirit would leave me, I would try to flee, but they-both would speak the words of binding and make me You Shén's puppet.

Before I knew it, Shengming and I were the only patrons left in the restaurant, with the owner in a corner half-asleep, trying to keep an eye on us. You Shén was using Shengming to tell me how in life he had been expelled from a monastery for drunkenness.

Then I heard it: in the distance, a cannon-shot.

Three cannon-shots were fired on the morning of the exams. The first came well before dawn to wake the candidates. Shengming and I should be collecting brushes and ink sticks and drilling each other on the Classics instead of drinking ourselves to death in this tavern. In an hour, the cannon would fire again, calling all candidates to the gates of the examination hall. On the third sounding, the great doors would be thrown open. Even if we could make it there, how could we sober up in time to wrestle with eight-legged essays?

No, there was still time. I could hardly think straight, but maybe if I figured out what You Shén was, I might find a way to break free.

There had been rumours of spirits ever since General Yue Fei returned from the dead eighteen years ago. The Jin barbarians had stolen the northern lands from our Empire, and Yue Fei the hero had fought to reclaim what we could. No one was as loyal as he. But Minister Qin Hui had been a spy for the Jin and framed the General for treason. After his execution, however, Yue Fei's spirit could not rest. He possessed one of his loyal men and revealed Qin Hui's treachery, and to this day continued to lead the Song Army against the Jin. They called Yue Fei the Spirit General, for he had led other spirits in the war against the Jin, or so the rumours went. There were many tales of ghostly possession and unearthly powers, but who knew which accounts were true.


Excerpted from "Where The Stars Rise"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak.
Excerpted by permission of Laksa Media Groups Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Lucas K. Law; Introduction by Elsie Chapman; Spirit of Wine by Tony Pi; The dataSultan of Streets and Stars by Jeremy Szal; Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun; Vanilla Rice by Angela Yuriko Smith; Looking Up by S.B. Divya; A Star is Born by Miki Dare; My Left Hand by Ruhan Zhao; DNR by Gabriela Lee; A Visitation for the Spirit Festival by Diana Xin; Rose's Arm by Calvin D. Jim; Back to Myan (translated by Shaoyan Hu) by Regina Kanyu Wang; Meridian by Karin Lowachee; Joseon Fringe by Pamela Q. Fernandes; Wintry Hearts of Those Who Rise by Minsoo Kang; Udātta Śloka by Deepak Bharathan; Crash by Melissa Yuan-Innes; Memoriam by Priya Sridhar; The Observer Effect by E.C. Myers; Decision by Joyce Chng; Moon Halves by Anne Carly Abad; The Bridge of Dangerous Longings by Rati Mehrotra; Old Souls by Fonda Lee; The Orphans of Nilaveli by Naru Dames Sundar; Afterword by Derwin Mak; Acknowledgements; About the Contributors; About the Editors; Copyright Acknowledgements; Appendix: Mental Health Resources and Anti-Discrimination Resources

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