Size / / /

I chose solitude for a career,

away from people

and the curse of interaction,

the first footprint on strange worlds,

and sometimes the last.

Pemeisia for example,

at the far end of how much isolation

even I could celebrate.

So black,


   so bleak,

it could have been the corporate symbol of my heart.

Despite the ice that melted a little of itself

out of sheer boredom,

the planet could not make a decent year

out of its desolation.

Time was like kids exploring an abandoned house.

Nothing to play with so it left.

Its sun was too far away to be an issue,

a speck, like kindling

for its own distant fire.

The planet turned but like a baby

in the crook of the dark's arms.

It could not rise to adulthood either.

Life, in fact, was out of the question.

Wind moved the surface around

like an endless game of musical chairs.

but nothing in the air

ever went to ground.

Water was caged, minerals suffocated.

Gases bumped against each other,

formed nothing new.

What did my report say:

one word . . . uninhabitable.

I was in a place no one could live.

And, for a month, he did.

John Grey can be reached by email at You can find more of John's work in our archives.
Current Issue
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
The air was redolent with machine oil; rich and unctuous, and synthesised alcohol, sharper than a knife on the tongue.
“Leaping Crane don’t want me to tell you this,” Poppy continued, “but I’m the most dangerous thing in the West. We’ll get you to your brother safe before you know it.”
Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
Winter storm: lightning flashes old ghosts on my blade.
transplanted from your temple and missing the persimmons in bloom
immigrant daughters dodge sharp barbs thrown in ambush 十面埋伏 from all directions
Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
Issue 22 May 2023
Issue 15 May 2023
Issue 8 May 2023
Issue 1 May 2023
Issue 24 Apr 2023
Issue 17 Apr 2023
Issue 10 Apr 2023
Issue 3 Apr 2023
Issue 27 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Mar 2023
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