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Odessa burns
around us while you
place your hand on
the trigger, your lips to
my brow, say "we have
to go back." Again, I tell
myself all isn't lost. Your
fingers are steady, love
will surely save us
from oblivion.


The 20s are lawless, filled
with the muck of survival, two
wars, three languages, our
people running
the underworld like
their birthright. This history
will be left here, discarded,
abandoned for tragedy, suffering,

"How much?" I say. "How
much farther?" You
look at me, restless,
uncertain, enchanting like
a chasm, like the first time
I saw you, careless and

By the docks, Sonia the
thief, the temptress, smiles
at you, daring you to
tell her the truth. Her hand
is golden, yours stutters, it's me
who has to save you, pull
you away from the

The bullets we got
for our oath, in the 26th
century, are impossible
to replenish. "We have to
go back farther, until
something is different,"
you say.


We’re back in a kingdom, raw
with injustice. The city
is different but still full
of our folk. Your dress is
even more lavish than
mine. Nobody imagines
themselves a peasant, given
a choice.

There's a girl in the shop. Nine
years old, working, illiterate. She's
one of your ancient mothers. Your
blood is her blood. She will
not live to see twenty. Your
hand is shaking, holding
the last two bullets and I’m
praying, now, to our god,
that this place is it.

"Why," you demand, "is it still
happening?" At the academy
you were better than me
at every subject. "We have
to go home, love," I say. We
have to leave here before
history happens

Marina Berlin grew up speaking three languages in a coastal city far, far away. She’s an author of short stories who’s currently working on her first novel. You can follow her exploits on Twitter @berlin_marina or read more about her work at
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
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Issue 24 Apr 2023
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Issue 10 Apr 2023
Issue 3 Apr 2023
Issue 27 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Mar 2023
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