May is celebrated as Asian-American and Pacific Islander History Month in the United States and I decided to take this opportunity to talk about some of my favourite Asian authors. After joining social media, my reading habits changed for the better as I started picking up more books by Asian authors. As an Asian myself, I realised that I connect to these stories on a deeper level, which has truly changed my life. Today I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful Asian SFF authors who I look up to. I have only included men and non-binary persons in this list as I already listed my 10 favourite Asian women authors for my International Women’s Day special blog post. With that preamble out of the way, let me introduce you to my favourites.
No list of Asian SFF authors would be complete without mentioning Ken Liu. He writes his own fiction as well as translates Chinese SFF into English. He is best known for his short story collection, The Paper Menagerie and translating the critically-acclaimed Chinese sci-fi, The Three-Body Problem.
What I admire most about him is his commitment to bringing Chinese speculative fiction to a larger audience. This is not an easy job as many Chinese SFF authors weave in political themes and it is so important to share these stories widely. Thanks to him, we have had a wave of translated works in SFF and he has compelled other authors to contribute as well, such as R. F. Kuang of The Poppy War fame.
I have read the titular story in his collection and the first book in the Remembrance of the Earth’s Past series so far and both were excellent. His silkpunk fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty series, and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, his most recent work, is on my TBR. I’m usually not a fan of short stories in general but I make an exception for the one and only Ken Liu.
Rin is a Filipino author who writes YA speculative fiction and their latest book, Wicked As You Wish, came out in March. They also wrote a post-apocalyptic fantasy duology, The Never Tilting World, the first of which released in 2019 and a completed horror duology, The Girl from The Well. They are best known for the Asian-inspired The Bone Witch fantasy trilogy, which is my personal favourite.
I love Rin for their courage to speak up about diversity and representation in books. They face a lot of challenges being based in the Philippines while having a US publisher but they have shown that it can be done nonetheless. They are not afraid to express their opinions and they are one of my favourite authors to follow on Twitter.
Rin became one of my favourite authors last year when I binge-read The Bone Witch series. I stay away from horror so their older series is not for me but I’m looking forward to Wicked As You Wish. The Never Tilting World was the last book I posted about on my old blog, Unputdownable Books, so it has a special place in my heart.
Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee is the Korean-American author of Machineries of the Empire trilogy, an adult hard sci-fi series that draws on his love of mathematics. He also contributed a standalone middle grade sci-fi incorporating Korean mythology for the Rick Riordan Presents line, Dragon Pearl. His latest fantasy standalone, Phoenix Extravagant, comes out in October 2020.
What I admire about Yoon is his inclusion of marginalised identities in his stories and the sensitivity with which he writes them. He is open about his struggles with mental health and I also have immense respect for his ability to balance that with writing. He has a limited online presence, so I had to scour through interviews online to learn more about his approach to writing, which thoroughly impressed me.
I must confess I discovered Yoon’s work after Dragon Pearl was announced by Rick Riordan. It is the only book by him that I have read so far and plan to start his space opera series soon. I loved the way Korean mythology was sprinkled into a sci-fi story in Dragon Pearl and the diversity of the cast of characters.
J. Y. Neon Yang
Yang had been on my radar ever since their name popped up in awards lists but I rarely pick up shorter fiction, so it wasn’t until one of their books became a Stars and Sorcery pick that I finally read them. Their works have been nominated for all of the big awards in SFF – Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Lambda Literary and Locus awards.
I started following the author after they spoke out against Worldcon’s exclusionary actions and lack of diversity back in 2018 on Twitter. They have been openly critical about the very white landscape of the adult SFF community. Their success is an inspiration to many who come from an intersection of marginalised backgrounds.
They are based out of Singapore and are most famous for their Tensorate series of novellas, which has 4 books out now. Their short fiction work has been published by Tor.com, Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons. So far only their novella series is on my TBR, of which I have completed 1/4 books and hope to finish the rest soon.
He is a recent addition to my list of favourite Asian SFF authors but I must admit I still haven’t gotten around to reading Steel Crow Saga yet. It’s a bit embarrassing because I’ve been meaning to read it since I got approved for its ARC but somehow haven’t. My friend Shealea has organised 2 readathons for this book and yet it is still on my TBR.
Again, he is an author who got my attention on Twitter and is a joy to follow. It was a wonderful experience for me to hear him speak in one of the panels of the Social Distancing Book Fest. He is also a passionate advocate for diversity and good representation in books, which he often expresses on Twitter.
His debut was a book that combined bartending and magic, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. For Steel Crow Saga, he used his Filipino heritage and other Asian elements as inspiration. I have heard nothing but praise for this book and hope to finish it this month.
✨Novels and Nebulas – Top 10 Asian Women Authors of SFF Who Inspire Me
Who are some of your favourite Asian SFF authors? Are any of these wonderful folk on your list as well? Are you doing anything special to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month? Let me know in the comments section down below. Hope you are having a magical week, readers from Earth!