The Alchemy of Happiness

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The Alchemy of Happiness: a triptych of stories rooted in Southeast Asian myth and legend, literary fantasy at its very best.

In the beginning were the four: Water, Fire, Air, and Earth. Arriving simultaneously with the creation of the world, these archetypal elementals shaped humanity from the very start; two of the four continue to do so.

BLUE—The first trickster, fluid and fickle, holder of all the answers, and, therefore, of all the power.

DANE—The loyal lieutenant and enforcer, dispatching fiery judgment without question.

In various guises and forms, through the interstices of our reality and multiple afterlives, these two ancient but flawed siblings seek to find the one metaphysical formula that will lead them out of the never-ending cycle of suffering. Like all of us, human and demigod alike, they yearn for the pure land of endless bliss.

This volume also features “Embracing the Strange,” a 14,000-word hybrid essay on the transformative power of speculative fiction, as well as “Represented Spaces,” a wide-ranging interview with Jason Erik Lundberg by author and editor Wei Fen Lee.


“Lundberg’s ‘Always a Risk’ blends science fiction, fantasy and Pure Land Buddhism to create an East-Asian steampunk world where hydromancy and technomancy are established sciences and Fleetline Coupes with phlogiston engines are driven into the ‘interstitial realm, the buffer zone between the dominions of man and demon’.” —Roderick B. Overaa, Asiatic, on “Always a Risk”

“The writing is smooth and crisply visual, and the dialog sparkles … Go with the flow, and you’ll meet an interesting character who ultimately is given a thought-provoking choice, one which comes with a unique sacrifice.” —Douglas Hoffman, Tangent, on “Reality, Interrupted”

“A fantasy tale of the highest calibre, at times I thought I was reading the last chapter of a great novel and it has certainly made me want to hear more from this author. A world of magic suddenly springs from a fairly ordinary beginning as Goran soon realises that things are not what they seem, and he quickly plunges into a new and disturbing world that is set to change his life forever.” —Tracy Sherrin-Miller, Whispers of Wickedness, on “Reality, Interrupted”


Contents

  1. Reality, Interrupted
  2. In Jurong
  3. Always a Risk
  4. Embracing the Strange
  5. Represented Spaces: An Interview By Wei Fen Lee [extract]

A Note From the Author

It all started with a sculpture.

In 1999, when I was still an unpublished newbie, I attended the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, where some of the notable writer guests included Neil Gaiman, John Shirley, Michael Bishop, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Ramsey Campbell. At that point, I thought that I might still be a horror writer, even though my innate squeamishness for violence and terror was beginning to win the battle for my chosen subject matter, and I attended very much because of the writers there. However, on the second day of the convention, at the urging of several new friends, I made my way into the art show, and beheld the gloriously dark and whimsical sculpture work of Lisa Snellings, who was the Artist Guest-of-Honor. Her smaller pieces made me smile and her larger kinetic works (including the moving Ferris wheel that inspired the anthology Strange Attraction, edited by Edward E. Kramer) filled me with wonder, but it was her largest piece on display that literally stole the breath from my lungs.

Named “If Love’s a Fine Game, Hell’s a Good Joke,” the sculpture consisted of two life-sized harlequins, one balancing on the knees of the other; the expressions that Lisa had so painstakingly crafted on their faces were so devilish and sly that, right there on that spot, I conceived of the siblings Blue and Dane: immortals, manipulators, elementals.

From “Hell’s a Good Joke,” Infinity Plus Blog

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