Fish Eats Lion

Fish Eats LionBook Launch
Singapore Writers Festival, 4 Nov 2012 • BooksActually, 30 Nov 2012 • Select Books, 28 Mar 2013 • Books Kinokuniya, 20 Apr 2013

Available from: BooksActually | Books Kinokuniya (Singapore) • Housing Works Bookstore Café (NYC) • Shakespeare and Company (Paris) • Woolfson & Tay (London) • BookMoby | The Booksmith (Bangkok) • Big Cartel | HipVan | Book Depository

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Reviews and Blurbs

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Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction collects the best original speculative fiction being written in Singapore today, a home-grown anthology featuring a refreshing variety of voices and perspectives. Here are tales that are recognizably science fiction and fantasy, and others that blend genres and tropes, including absurdism, police procedural, fairy tales, steampunk, pre- and post-apocalypse, political satire, and alien first contact. These twenty-two stories—from emerging writers publishing their first work to winners of the Singapore Literature Prize and the Cultural Medallion—explore the fundamental singularity of the Lion City.

This book is a celebration of the vibrant creative power underlying Singapore’s inventive prose stylists, where what is considered normal and what is strange are blended in fantastic new ways.

Fish Eats Lion


  1. Preface | Jason Erik Lundberg
  2. The Story of the Kiss | Stephanie Ye*
  3. Agnes Joaquim, Bioterrorist | Ng Yi-Sheng
  4. Punggol | Ben Slater
  5. Welcome to the Pond | Wei Fen Lee
  6. Last Supper | Jeffrey Lim
  7. Rewrites | Shelly Bryant
  8. Big Enough for the Entire Universe | Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  9. The Digits | Ivan Ang
  10. Apocalypse Approaches | Daryl Yam
  11. 010011010100010101001101010011110101001001011001 | Justin Ker
  12. Dewy | Grace Chia Kraković
  13. Where No Cars Go | JY Yang
  14. Green Man Plus | Isa Kamari
  15. Mirage | Noelle de Jesus
  16. Feng Shui Train | Yuen Kit Mun
  17. Last Time Kopitiam | Marc de Faoite
  18. Chapter 28: Energy | The Centipede Collective
  19. Waiting For the Snow | Carrick Ang
  20. The Moon and the Stars | Andrew Cheah
  21. The Disappearance of Lisa Zhang | Dave Chua
  22. Open | Tan Ming Tuan
  23. Zero Hour | Cyril Wong

* Only found in the first print edition

From the Preface

The Republic of Singapore is known by several monikers: The Garden City, The Lion City, The Little Red Dot, and The “Fine” Country (for the hefty fines implemented by the government to ensure cleanliness and order). All of these, including the last, have come from the top down, as a deliberate way to brand the country in such a way as to make it positively memorable, and hence appealing for foreign investment and tourism. Singapore is every day reinventing itself.

One way that this has been done is through the creation of the iconic symbol of the Merlion. The Merlion was designed and developed as a logo for the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964: a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the scaled body of a fish. The concept of the merlion is not original to Singapore; it occurs in art and heraldry throughout history in locations as diverse as India, Etruria, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines. However, Singapore is the only modern country to adopt the merlion as a national symbol, combining the nation’s historical identity as a Malay fishing village with its nomenclature in Bahasa Melayu: Singapura, the Lion City. The Merlion statue created in 1972 and currently residing at Marina Bay, which continually gushes water into the Singapore River from its open leonine mouth, remains a popular tourist attraction.

Although the fabrication of the Merlion as a national symbol is an interesting example of reinvention, even more interesting is the process of deliberate myth-making. Singapore is constantly telling stories about itself, to investors, to skilled and educated foreign workers, to the organizers of international sporting events, but most of all to itself. The annual National Day Parade, celebrated each year on the 9th of August to commemorate Singapore’s independence, is an hours-long immersion in narrative: a rah-rah observance of nationalism, a listing of the nation’s accomplishments, and a reminder not to take for granted the affluence and racial harmony that the country now boasts. Underlying this is the theme that Singapore’s citizens ought to show appreciation for what its leaders have achieved since 1965, a notion that invariably leads to a snarky counter-response from many people, and occasional confusion from students who uncritically (and incorrectly) parrot how former Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew single-handedly hauled the nation out of the third-world muck and set it on its inevitable course toward first-world prosperity.

There is an inherent strangeness in constantly telling your own story that lends well to the writing of speculative fiction. Traditionally, fantasy and science fiction (and all the places in between) have not seen much popularity within Singaporean literature, other than sensationalist ghost stories that tap into the culture’s deep folk-religious roots. It can be found, but one must specifically go looking for it, and very often it is disguised as more “literary” magic realism or fabulation. And yet, these core “paraliterary” genres are quite popular amongst the nation’s readers, regularly appearing in the bestselling lists at chain bookstores like Books Kinokuniya. When Neil Gaiman was a featured guest of the 2009 Singapore Writers Festival, the queue for his signing line stretched over a thousand people from The Arts House down to the Singapore River.

Being a writer and editor of speculative fiction, it has worried me to see such a lack of published SF writing within a Singaporean context, and so this anthology was born. I cannot thank publisher Kenny Leck enough for taking a chance on this book, and encouraging the proliferation of further imaginative writing in Singapore. During the submissions process, I was gratified at the overwhelming amount of submitted short fiction, which only confirmed my impression that Singaporeans are indeed writing fantastical stories, and are either presumably shelving them in favour of more “realist” writing or sending them to overseas markets for publication.