Sunday, 31 August 2008

Malaysiakini Publishes Science Fiction.


I logged into Malaysiakini this afternoon to see if anything was wrong in the country, and instead of the news I was presented with a nice little science fiction story by Lim Teck Ghee:
It is Merdeka Day 2057. The Supremacist Alliance is in power. Having successfully re-engineered (and renamed) itself several times over, it has the record of being the longest-staying political party in power in the world.


Interviewed over Mal-Jibberish, the sole media agency (all other printed and electronic news media had lost their licences in the great media purge of 2020 or had been swallowed up by the national media Goliath) the Supreme Minister (SM) proclaimed that the Supremacist Alliance looked forward to another hundred years of ruling the country based on its past record of successfully managing the multi-racial society.
And you thought he only dabbled in political science!

Link might be for paid subscribers only. If you're not a paying subscriber to Malaysiakini then allow me to knock you on the head. *knocks reader on head* There.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Fellow Traveller by Hari Kunzru.

The Guardian is celebrating the Beijing Olympics by publishing short stories, and the first one is a hilarious one written by Hari Kunzru, and it features pandas. It also reminds me of Chet. :D

Thursday, 21 August 2008

First is the Worst, Second is the Best, Third is the one with the hairy chest.

So the literary corner of the interwebs is abuzz with the latest news that the number one of the 50 best-loved authors is Enid Blyton. And people have since come out to say that they too like Enid Blyton, warts and all.

To say I'm dismayed is an understatement. I hate Blyton. Always have, always will. This may have happened because I was introduced to Roald Dahl first and only to Enid Blyton a few years later. If that have happened the other way round maybe my feelings for her books would be a lot different. But since we do not have the benefit of a time machine or a device capable of peeking into parallel worlds, who knows?

But I'm not here to complain about people liking Enid Blyton. For what it's worth, she was responsible for instilling the love of reading into at least a couple of generations so that's okay by me. Also, if it weren't for Enid Blyton, I would have never known what a Gollywog is. Ho ho!

As for the rest of the list, I think it's spiff that eight (EIGHT!) SF writers made it to the list.

Isaac Asimov, H.G.Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, George Orwell, Iain Banks, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.G. Ballard and Ray Bradbury.

All worth reading.

Okay, so Sir A.C. Doyle is a bit pushing it, but remember, he did write The Lost World, which inspired a lot of SF dinosaur stories afterwards, the most notable one being Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.

To be filed in "You-should-have-done-it-earlier".

In the first time he's actually done something I'm impressed with since he became Prime Minister, Pak Lah took a ride on the city's LRT:
He said the existing services were not systematic, there were not enough coaches and coverage was not comprehensive, leaving many areas not serviced.


"I just saw the plight of people using the trains to get to work every morning. They were jostling to get on board every time a train arrived. There appeared to be no system.


"I'm not happy with this because the people are not getting satisfaction from riding the trains. This we must fix," he said.


"I found the trains really packed with so many passengers. Some had waited for three trains and yet could not board.


"There's no queue. People push their way in, women with children and old people are pushed aside," he added.
I'm glad you've finally noticed, Mr Prime Minister, even if it has taken you four bleeding years to realise it. If only you'd done something like this before you raised the petrol price.

Not everything's about boats you know!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Miscellaneous.

My brother-in-law got married yesterday and I was the best man.

Let me tell you something.

If you ever get the chance to become a best man at someone's wedding, at that wedding happens to be a Malay wedding and takes place in Johor, then I suggest you don't do it.

It's pure madness I tell you! And don't come to me crying afterwards. It'll be too late by then. I'll spare you the told-you-sos.

I have never seen such uncivilised behaviour at a wedding. Is that what the Malays call adat? Count me out of service, out of Johor, I wouldn't hang about.

But I'm one for talk aren't I? Should I be talking about barbarism in Johor when I will be seeing Wall-e tonight in IOI Puchong? You think the Goths and the Vikings were barbaric. Hah! I say you wouldn't know barbarism before you have had a chance to see a movie in IOI Puchong.

Also if anyone finds my syntax atrocious, please feel free to resyntax this post.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Creative Process.

Leon has started up a new blog called the Malaysian Poetic Chronicles which he promises will be a place to house your poetry or short shorts. He's open for submissions now.

The first two posts are a poem by Leon, and a short story from yours truly, which you have already read here.

However! My short story over there has something extra: a write-up of my creative process while writing the story. If you're interested, go take a look.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

SHORT STORY: Untitled.

I wrote this short story for a contest but then I got waaaay over the word limit, so I had to scrap it and start over again. I wrote another short story and sent that one in instead.

The abandoned short story is as follows. Tell me what you think.
It was already a week into the month of Ramadan but all Afiq could find in the dark corners of the sprawling town built on the back of the humongous beast, Buraq, was water to break his fast every evening. The water, whenever it was found, was not clean, and Afiq often had to lick it off the most repugnant of surfaces, such as the walls of an abandoned hut, rotting away, as was walls made from the skins of long ago deceased tics were wont to do after a brief period of time; or in huge acrid beads of sweat in between the the beast’s fur, where ever he could find it growing–sometimes in between buildings, other times in between blades of the beast’s fur, growing like tall blades of grass in patches very much like small fields, on the outskirts of the vast decaying Town.

It was the beads of sweat that kept Afiq going on. He had no doubt the odious and vile liquid excreted from underneath the beast’s back contained some vitamins and minerals–though perhaps limited, it was enough to keep his body alive. His, and other food scavengers as well.

The problem with the fur patches outside town was that it was getting harder and harder every day of Ramadan to find a big enough bead of beast sweat to last until the next breaking of fast. Competition was stiff. Fights often broke out amongst the scavengers and the militant Jayshists. Afiq had no intention of getting himself mixed in any of these squabbles. He knew that in his weak state, he would most probably die if ever he got into a fight. That was why he kept his searches mostly within the confines of the Town.

But that was before he stumbled into the house of the Imam. In his stupor, brought on by his extreme hunger, he had clumsily dragged himself into a district of the Town where he had not gone before. In this part of town, the houses and buildings were made of a different material, something more rugged and longer-lasting than the skins of tics. He did not know what it was but as he slid his palms on the walls while walking between the buildings, the walls felt coarse and slightly elastic, very much unlike the brittle and smooth qualities of tic skins. Even the ground felt different. In other parts of the Town, the ground was soft and springy, as a Buraq’s back should be. But here it was solid and hard and shiny.

The musty stench in the air quickly gave way to a fragrant aroma, something Afiq’s nostrils had not had the luxury of smelling before. His nose clearly could not cope with this new sensation. Small streams of blood flowed out his nostrils. He wiped the blood with his grimy wrist and licked it. His mouth started watering. He quickly swallowed the saliva produced. He was not one to waste moisture. He followed the aroma to an open doorway. Inside he saw a sparse room, decorated only with a table and two accompanying chairs, as well as a small black stove in the far corner. On top of the stove, there was a wok, and it was being used to deep-fry something. Attending to the wok, was a tall man wearing a white skullcap. This was the Imam.

The Imam turned around and saw the skinny figure of Afiq standing in the doorway. If the Imam had any change of expression, he did not reveal it. Afiq expected the Imam to burst into a rage, a reaction he was used to getting whenever he appeared in strange doorways. But the Imam did no such thing. He turned his back once again to Afiq and resumed giving his full attention to the wok.
Yes, yes. It's unfinished. Probably might stay that way for a long time too.

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