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Scale-Bright

(Scale-Bright)

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3.8  ·  Rating details ·  249 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Julienne’s aunts are the archer who shot down the suns and the woman who lives on the moon. They teach her that there’s more to the city of her birth than meets the eye – that beneath the modern chrome and glass of Hong Kong there are demons, gods, and the seethe of ancient feuds. As a mortal Julienne is to give them wide berth, for unlike her divine aunts she is painfully ...more
Hardcover, 98 pages
Published August 2014 by Immersion Press
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Peterb
Nov 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
There are enough books written by non-sociopaths that I don't really feel the desire to give any time to books written by racist abusers, which is as fine a description of Benjanun Sriduangkaew as I've read.

So, no. Better luck next karmic cycle.

Elizabeth
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stunning.

I started writing this review a bunch of times and it kept turning into a big heap of superlatives and exaggerated descriptives because OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS THAT AMAZING. It’s quick little novella but has already put Sriduangkaew straight to the top of my ’wait impatiently for them to write the next thing’ list and will be, without doubt, amongst my nominees for a Hugo Award.

The story shifts between mortal Hong Kong and the strange immortal realms of demons and gods and whilst our pr
...more
Jason
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
And my recent spate of five-star reviews continues today with this stunning novella from Bee Sriduangkaew.

I am trying to think of anyone writing SFF in English today who is a finer prose stylist.

*time passes*

*more time passes*

I give up. Mmmmmaybe Cat Valente or Sofia Samatar. Maybe. But at this point we're more or less in Cantorian set math territory. How can one infinity be larger than another?

Also, this is a really good story, about a woman learning how to let herself want what she wants (so
...more
J. Moufawad-Paul
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I originally rated this novella with four stars but I've decided to add an extra stars because of political reasons. I'll explain…

I'm getting sick and tired of the people who have given *Scale-Bright* a poor reading without having read it because they happened to read something about the author's activities as a controversial reviewer of SFF. These are terrible ad hominem arguments about the book, and though I do think that some books should be rated based on their author's shitty political comm
...more
Jason Wintner
Nov 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Just 110 pages, but took me forever to finish this piece of trash. I'm beginning to think getting published is quite easy. One of the most pointless plots I have ever come across, combined with extremely dull writing. Non of the characters are relatable, there's a lot of good books around, don't waste your time with this one.
Nafiza
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s novella Scale-Bright is set in Hong Kong and brings to life Asian mythology as is rarely seen in fiction I have read. I liked the novelty of the setting and I liked how Sriduangkaew presented the colourful characters that populated the novel. The tension is also kept high and the plot moves very swiftly, chasing one character and then moving to another.

I enjoyed Scale-Bright because it brings something different to the table: different sexualities, different ways of cons
...more
Gerhard
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, short-fiction
Lavie Tidhar, who won the World Fantasy Award in 2012 for his superlative novel Osama, has gone on record as saying that Benjanun Sriduangkaew may be “the most exciting new voice in speculative fiction today.”

Interestingly, Sriduangkaew thanks both Lavie Tidhar and Ann Leckie in her Acknowledgements – both these authors are singular genre voices themselves.

However, I do not think Sriduangkaew is as singular as either Tidhar or Leckie. Beyond the overwrought ornamentation of the writing itself, S
...more
Mieneke
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2014
When I first came across Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s writing last year I fell in love with her writing. Her style and voice are fantastic and I think she’s one of the most exciting short fiction writers to have emerged in the field in the past few years. When the author asked on Twitter whether anyone wanted an ARC of her new novella Scale-Bright I couldn’t raise my hand quick enough. A retelling of an old Chinese tale and a sequel to an earlier retelling of a Chinese legend with a gender twist, Sca ...more
Alis Franklin
Lesbian urban fantasy/paranormal romance between a mortal girl and a vampire snake demon, set in Hong Kong. Bonus second romance featuring said mortal girl's divine aunts, who fall in love, are separated for centuries, and finally reunite in the modern world. In other words, Scale-Bright features some of my very most favouritest tropes of all time, and should be total catnip for me. Sadly, it's... not, for two reasons.

The first issue is the prose, which has a kind of florid, dreamlike quality I
...more
Witch of Angmar
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sriduangkaew accomplishes more character development in five pages than most other authors (except Beagle) achieve in one-hundred pages. I cannot think of a way to articulate how beautifully abstract her descriptions are, except to compare them to the descriptions in The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. They have a different tone, of course, but they reach the same emotional depth. Also like The Last Unicorn, Scale Bright is a very short novel. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE long fantasy novels/seri ...more
Alex MacFarlane
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Julienne is a regular young woman in Hong Kong, anxious and often lonely. After a snake demon, Olivia, drinks from her life force in a time of need, she is forced to face a little more head-on the reality that she also has Chang’e and Houyi for aunts. Scale-Bright follows on from the short stories “Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon”, “Chang’e Dashes From the Moon” and “The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate”, all free to read online, which are not required pre-reading but recommended (for quality as well ...more
Rob
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
...I loved this novella, even if it left me with the feeling I missed a lot of what Sriduangkaew put into it. I don't consider that a problem besides the obvious blind spot in my knowledge of Chinese mythology. Books can be read again and Scale-Bright is one of those pieces that probably should be read several times to fully appreciate it. I'm not entirely sure that I would recommend this novella as an entry point but I will say that if you haven't already read some of her stories, you are missi ...more
Allison
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thrilled to have finally read something beyond the author's scattered online short fiction (everything I've read has been great). I have a weakness for retellings of myths and fairy tales (not to mention the fact that it's a lesbian retelling---even better), and this is among the best I've read. The characters were heartfelt, and the imagery was sumptuous, but I never felt overburdened by it. I didn't realize when I bought this that there were three more pieces of short fiction included, and tho ...more
Kym
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Okay so apparently I live in a bubble and was unaware of the raging shitstorm controversy surrounding the author (Google the name) but I read this book yesterday and I have to say the prose is really beautiful. Very, very beautiful.

The story is basically a modern/urban variation of some Chinese mythology so while I am not familiar with the original stories, it didn't detract from this being an enjoyable read. Did I mention the pretty word slinging? Yeah, gorgeously written.
F
Mar 12, 2015 added it
Shelves: hurt-me-inside
dnf

The prose was horrifying
Anfenwick
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I rather wish I had not learned anything about this author’s other activities until after I’d read Scale-Bright. However, I think and hope I would have said essentially what I’m going to say now.

Scale-Bright is a sparkly but shallow modern take on a popular Chinese myth. And it’s short. In itself, it’s a ‘why not’ kind of read. The myth has many versions, and you might find this one fun - if you don’t expect too much and aren’t turned off by one or more of its other qualities.

Given that I did
...more
Magadored wants to extrude your face normals
GoodReads thinks I'm a troll, so every book written by a controversial author ends up on my recommendation list. I'm hugely glad for it because, despite having to deal with the occasional title like A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, I get to read the rare gems.

As with most exceptional books, I don't know quite how to describe it. It marries ancient Chinese mythology with modern day Hong Kong, and propagates this setting with an astonishing number of lesbian love stories. That might s
...more
Antonio Urias
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review and others are available on my blog.

I first discovered Benjanun Sriduangkaew earlier this year when reading one of her short stories on Clarkesworld. Her prose is mesmerizing and quickly drew me into her short tale of gender politics, genocide, and AIs forged from the corpses of stars. I immediately placed her on my watch list of authors and, as seldom happens, within months I learned she had a new novella forthcoming, her first piece of longer fiction.

Scale-Bright is a modern retel
...more
Cathy Douglas
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been encountering a lot Asian mythology lately, especially Chinese, but I felt like this story lived more deeply in that world than most. I'm not exactly sure how Julienne, an adult orphan, ended up with her two immortal "aunties," but having them, she moves between ordinary reality and the stranger realms without too much cognitive dissonance. She came across to me as a bit immature and selfish, in the way she thought about her parents, and about loving and being loved. That didn't stop he ...more
A.K. Lindsay
I began my introduction by reading her free collection of connecting short stories to this book (to my delight, these are also included in the appendix section of Scale-Bright).

My favourite story is Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon which features Houyi at its centre. Houyi also plays a strong role in Scale-Bright. The author goes even deeper into her character, showing ways she would be willing to compromise and the lengths she is willing to go to protect her new-found family. I adored her h
...more
Lu
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever wondered why fantasy (or any speculative fiction really) seems to be synonymous with action/adventure, you're probably a noob in the genre like myself! To you, my friend, I say why not check out this lovely novella set in modern day Hong Kong, a place infested with gods and demons.

To Julienne, a queer woman living with her immortal aunts* (sometimes, sorta), life ain't great until she runs afoul of a snake lady who turns out to be not just any snake lady. Sriduangkaew's writing i
...more
Zach
Time to get away from the American/British magical detective, oh THANK THE LORD. I wanted more, I want a sequel. Man, do I love this book. Finally, someone using non-Western mythology and supernatural creatures, plus queer protagonists, plus set in a city that isn't New York, London, Chicago or San Francisco, plus an author who ALSO doesn't live in Britain or America, PLUS amazing prose.

It is all wrapped up in a little ball with a ribbon JUST FOR ME. Hooray! This is one of those books that I buy
...more
Marthese Formosa
So I was recommended this book by a friend because I love fantasy and retellings and it's written by a Thai author. The story in itself has Chinese mythological characters.

Now, I stopped reading half way through and continued the book months after...which may be why it's only a three star rating, but I cannot be sure.

The story follows Julienne, whose distant relatives that are now taking care of her, are Houyi and Chang'e, the goddesses of the sun and the moon respectively. She meets a viper dem
...more
Betsy
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scale-Bright, and the stories that go with it, are just gorgeous. I always love stories retelling or inspiried by myths, legends, and fairy tales, and this is just the best sort of these stories - a fully-developed, beautiful world that makes sense in itself, and makes the legends themselves seem like retellings. I love the way that modern Hong Kong fits with, contrasts with, and complements all the mythical and magical elements, woven together by Sriduangkaew's beautiful way with words.

I do wis
...more
fromcouchtomoon
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Not quite as special as I had expected. The light and intricate Chinese myth-like prose is overburdened with jeweled and velveted descriptors; it's tiresome when every noun must come with a heavy adjective. The story is another gods-among-the-people story. Was expecting more depth but got a familiar-feeling family and romantic relations tale instead. Based on this author's criticism, I thought we might have similar taste, but perhaps not. I never bought the accusations that this author's critici ...more
Kai Steph
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-interest, lgbt
You know those fantasy kitchen-sink stories that have fairies and werewolves and very thin explanations as to how they all ended up in North America? Imagine that, but in Hong Kong, with Chinese mythology. And lesbians. Because everything is better with lesbians.

It's written in a dense, almost poetic style and can be a bit difficult to get through the words to the story, but it is incredibly beautiful and rewarding. I need more stories like this in my life.
Rachel Cotterill
Beautiful. Julienne is a mortal woman with two goddess-aunts; Xiaoqing is a serpent demon straight out of legend, searching for her lost sister. When Julienne stops to help a stranger on the Hong Kong streets, she couldn't predict what she's getting herself into.

Full review to follow.
Ridwan Jaafar
Oct 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Maybe it's me?! I didn't enjoy this book. The author's writing is not easy for readers. Bee's writing style might scare some readers and ultimately hate reading all together.

I'm not going to recommend this book.
Ana
Queer female desire is represented in such beautiful, sensual, and varied ways here. There's Julienne's desire to be better, more confident, more accomplished, more graceful; underneath that, her desire to be seen and wanted for who she truly is; but above all, there is her inescapable desire for women, and for Sieuching in particular. Sieuching transcends humanity and mortality, all of the petty middle class concerns about normalcy and what is Supposed to give life meaning. She is dangerous and ...more
S. K. Pentecost
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Steamy, PG, leztacular, reimagined myth extrapolations. I especially enjoyed the dreamlike quality of the short stories at the end.

I wish the short stories had been at the beginning since they would have set the characters of the novella into some context.
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Science fiction, fantasy, and others in the between. Cute kissing ladies? I write those. Ruthless genocidal commanders? Got that covered too! 2014 finalist for Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2015 BSFA finalist for Best Short Fiction (SCALE-BRIGHT). I like beautiful bugs and strange cities.

Other books in the series

Scale-Bright (2 books)
  • The Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale-Bright Stories
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“What is it that you long for best, that clenches teeth and claws over the ventricles of your heart?” 0 likes
“What do you do with humans? You eat from them just a little, if they are delicious. You delight in their flesh sometimes, if they are not tedious.” 0 likes
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