This is part of a series of Q&As with the authors of The Apex Book of World SF 3 edited by Lavie Tidhar.

The stories in The Apex Book of World SF 3 run the gamut from science fiction, to fantasy, to horror. Some are translations (from German, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Swedish), and some were written in English. The authors come from Asia and Europe, Africa and Latin America. Their stories are all wondrous and wonderful, and showcase the vitality and diversity that can be found in the field. They are a conversation, by voices that should be heard.


(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I will always be a city boy. I won’t tell you I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I can tell you I’ve always loved to read. Not so with academic books, though I seem to be stuck with them even until now. When I wanted to take up English (Creative English in particular) in university, my mother insisted that I do…more. So Medicine it was, and now I’m doing both, and I’m grateful for that.

Finding a balance, now that’s another story.

2. Tell us a little about your story.

Malaysia. Somewhere in the future. A son who’s worried about his father living alone, and the father a retired ustaz, and Islamic Education teacher. A state-of-the-art android that doesn’t pretend to imitate a human being. Take an old man whose faith in the Almighty is strong enough that he has faith that a robot can learn the ways of Islam, too. The story is as much about faith as it is about belonging, and finding one’s own voice.

3. What was the inspiration for the story?

I first wrote another story for COSMOS, but the then-fiction editor Damien Broderick was frustrated that my Science Fiction had very little grounded in actual science. Also, I love stories about androids, but androids becoming real people feels old-as old as Pinocchio. It was not surprising that, with most of my stories having something to do with faith, I thought, “What if a robot can actually learn the ways of Islam?”

It’s amazing, what “what if” can do.

4. What are you working on at the moment?

My dissertation. Or at least I’m supposed to. And a contemporary New Adult novel.

5. Who are some of your own favourite writers?

Breanna Teintze, Benjamin Alire Saenz, John Green, Robert Jordan, Melanie Rawn, Nora Jemisin, Ken Liu, CS Lewis, Raymond E Feist, Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, to name a few.

6. What do you have coming out next?

My Master’s Degree in Neurosurgery, if I do it correctly. And perhaps that novel I mentioned.


(Malaysia)

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I started writing stories since I was twelve – There was always a story to tell and when I wasn’t telling them to friends, I was writing them down. It was always a sure-fire way for me to de-stress, and I love being able to put ideas, or scenes from my dreams into a story, and sharing that experience with readers. It makes my day when a reader tells me my story affected them in some way (even if it scared them a little), because it means I did my job.

If I’m not writing, you can find me running the next 5km race in Malaysia or horse riding. I travel a lot for work, and I’m using everything that I see and experience out in the world as inspiration for my stories.

2. Tell us a little about your story.

This story is my first attempt at horror fiction – I wanted the readers to get into the mind of someone affected by a disease that is degenerating her body and mind (zombie), instead of showing a scene from the point of view of the victim. But the story here is, who is the real victim?

3. What was the inspiration for the story?

Partly, it was Eugie Foster’s short story – Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast. I heard the story being read by Lawrence Santoro on a podcast and it scared me (in a good way!). It was so beautifully written that I wanted to give a go at horror fiction and try to evoke the same feelings of fear (even if it was a slight one) for my readers. I’ve also always been intrigued by the Rafflesia flower that grows here in Malaysia, which is one of the main components of this story. There’s something eerie and haunting about that flower – and a story waiting to be written.

4. What are you working on at the moment?

A short story about a tribe of animal skin-wearers and hunters, and a boy who could not bring himself to kill or hunt.

5. Who are some of your own favourite writers?

Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Eugie Foster, Janny Wurts, Julie E. Czerneda.

6. What do you have coming out next?

Nothing yet. I’m going to be submitting stories soon though!

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