5 by 5 · Malaysiana

5×5: Zen Cho

I’ve always been interested in what local publisher Buku Fixi have been releasing, but most of their books weren’t the sort that I normally read, until Zen Cho’s Spirits Abroad.

Spirits Abroad is really a collection of (mostly) previously published SFF short fiction. I loved that a lot of the stories were exactly the sort of thing I liked, perfectly blending the real world with folklore. And as a  MAJOR plus point, this time the folklore were the ones I’ve grown up with, because Zen Cho is also Malaysian. I really ought to write about the book in a different post, because I want to flail about all the stories. Earlier this year Buku Fixi released another anthology full of the sort of things I like in my SF, Cyberpunk: Malaysia, edited by Zen. This, too, I will write more about in a future post.

This month Zen released a novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, which I had included in my “2015 books I’m anticipating” lists here and on GR. I’m expecting it to be as awesome as – if very different from – Spirits Abroad. My copy just arrived yesterday, and I can’t wait to start reading!

Anyway, here are Zen’s top fives (and top 1 for one of the questions):

whiteboots1 uprooted AKitS Cover amanliesdreaming gokusen

Top 5 favourite childhood books

  • First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
  • White Boots by Noel Streatfeild
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Top 5 fictional characters you’d love to meet

  • Death from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
  • Temeraire from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series
  • Stephen Maturin from Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series
  • Yankumi from the manga Gokusen by Morimoto Kozueko
  • Anne Shirley from L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series

Top 5 fandoms you’re currently into

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (the Susanna Clarke novel and the BBC series)

Zen’s note: I can’t truthfully say I’m currently into any other fandoms! I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to fandoms.

Top 5 SFF books you read recently

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar
  • Cyberpunk: Malaysia by various authors
  • A Killing in the Sun by Dilman Dila

Top 5 creatures/spirits from myth/folklore

  • Dragon
  • Pontianak
  • Qilin
  • Manananggal
  • The Monkey King, Sun Wukong (though a bit disrespectful to call him a creature)

Thank you very much, Zen, for answering these!


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