Cover Image: Where the Stars Rise

Where the Stars Rise

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Member Reviews

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I don't often read anthologies because in the past, I often ended up not liking them so much. But seeing what kind of stoires there were present in this antology I was really intruiged.

Most of the stories I truly enjoyed. Of course one more than the other but it was great to read so many different stories that had Asian Fantasy in it, something I've been wanting to read more of, as well as the fact that they were all really character driven, something I definitely like as well. 

Every story had a new and great setting, different kind of characters and that something I normally do really enjoy about anthologies; there's so much diversity to be found, which was the case with this one as well. 


I'd definitely recommend giving this anthology a go if you want to get aquainted with new to you authors and when you want to read Asian inspired Fantasy stories that are quite character driven. 

Probably not every story is going to be a hit, seeing there's all kinds of different writing to be found and it's something personal to every read, but it was overall a lot of fun to read!
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Anthologies are usually a hit and miss for me but when I heard about “Where the Stars Rise” I knew I needed to get my hands on it.
I was not disappointed.
Each of the stories managed to capture and keep my attention (the latter being pretty difficult for short stories!). With the stories all being based around Asia in some form, they all had their own quirks and interesting points while still flowing through with the general theme. From sci-fi to romance to tragedy to natural disasters, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this wonderful gem. The biggest theme that wrapped up this anthology for me is unity in diversity and learning to accept oneself.

A copy of the book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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Where the Stars Rise was a solid collection of Asian speculative fiction that explored everything from the epic to the mundane. The anthology was fairly diverse in terms of cultures represented, so I felt like I got to see more of Asia than what is usually considered "Asian." Two of my favorite stories were by Fonda Lee and E.C. Myers. Lee's was was a riveting story about reincarnation and revenge, and Myers' had an interesting take on superheroes and Asian representation. I hope to see more anthologies like this that explores the myriad stories that Asian cultures can give birth to.
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You have no idea how much I had wanted to like and enjoy reading Where the Stars Rise... No idea. I tried to finish all of these short stories. 

They just weren't for me.
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I adored every single story. I would love to get a hard copy of this but can't find it in UK just yet - fingers and everything crossed!
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I believe this anthology of shorts is important. Not only is it a coming together of some authors that are extremely talented, but these stories hit a spot that is seriously lacking in the majority of books. The range of talent and skill in this anthology will take you on a ride from one end of the universe to the other. A fantastic compilation of talent and heart capturing stories.
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Interesting stories but wasn't enough to hold my interest. I read a few of the stories and finished some but I wasn't interested enough to read everything. I might not be the right audience for this one.
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I never got to this book back when it was released and I am so sorry about that. My tastes have somewhat changed, so I probably should not read it at this point, and I will work really hard to be better in the future. Thank you for the opportunity.
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A brilliant collection of stories that celebrate the past, present and future of Asia. This diverse set of writers showcases some amazing work!
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This is an anthology of varied Asian fantasy and sci-fi stories. If you enjoy these two genres you should give this anthology try, there is something here for nearly everyone! This was a very enjoyable read.
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Some are good, some are great and some I really could have gone without ever reading.  But that's just how an anthology works.  I've lately really become fond of anthologies.  It is nice to just pick up a short story between projects.  Especially with the weather taking a quick turn to the cold side, I've not been able to garden for as long as I would like in a day.  I enjoy coming in for a hot cup of tea and a quick read.

Where the Stars Rise is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories by Asian authors.  It has been a vastly interesting collection.  The eastern mythos provides an entirely different spin than I have been raised with and gives a nice edge when I get in a fantasy slump.

Some of the stories I would love to see get an entire novel based on these short prequels--such as The dataSultan of Streets and Stars by Jeremy Szal.  

Some were just great stand alone stories that really make you think about life--like any good science fiction should--such as Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun and Vanilla Rice by Angela Yuriko Smith.  I especially like the interlinked paradigms from A Star is Born by Miki Dare.

Some were just over my head because I don't have enough cultural heritage to understand the myths the authors are building around--such as Udatta Sloka by Deepak Bharathan.

Overall I give this short story collection 4 stars.  The ones I truly enjoyed well overrated the ones that were beyond my understanding or just poorly written (which there were only two).
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There are always going to be hits and misses in anthologies, but there were so many hits in this one book that I couldn't bring myself to mark it down at all. I'm so excited to see what these writers do in the future.
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4.5/5 I liked this! It was really interesting and the different authors wrote really great stories! They wrote really amazing Asian inspired fantasy, and it is one of my favorite collection of short stories I've read! It really brought insight to a section of fantasy and just books in general since Asian inspired fiction to me in usually underrepresented! I could tell in these stories there was a general theme for quite a few of them:  the sense that there is a separation of them from society. I think that my favorite story is "Back to Myan" by Regina Kanyu Wang which is about a girl who's ocean planet is destroyed and she is taken in by another society and is brought up as one of them. It was intense. I thought it was amazing, and as mentioned, is my favorite story in this one. I highly recommend checking this out!
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AMAZING BOOK. One of my new favorites, and I cannot wait to add this into my new fall lineup. My students will enjoy the characters and story lines.
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Laksa Media Groups is back with another stunningly brilliant anthology and I was thrilled for them to immediately approve my request to read Where the Stars Rise after I read and reviewed their previous anthology - The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound. Science-fiction is one of my absolute favourite genres but it is so often dominated by white men whose main characters are bland white men with savior complexes. So when I saw Where the Stars Rise up for request on NetGalley I jumped at the opportunity last year. Sadly, I didn't make time for it when I should have but I am delighted to have read it for Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Where the Stars Rise starts with one request - "more diversity in our art, please" - and that's exactly what the anthology delivers. With 23 stories contained with its pages, many of which are #ownvoices, Where the Stars Rise stands proudly above the whitewashed sea of SFF and offers something unique, thought-provoking and packed full of stories that stay with you long after you've read them. Together the short stories band together to challenge Asian stereotypes, cliche's and tropes while exploring themes such as cultural tradition, complicated histories and uncertain futures, belonging and difference, and prejudice alongside a diverse array of characters from different cultures, sexualities, ages, disabilities, and citizenship status'.

As it offers so much, it would be difficult to talk about every single story in a way that does them any justice so I've chosen a varied selection from throughout the anthology to review individually.

→ The dataSultan of Streets and Stars by Jeremy Szal – ★★★★★ ←

Possibly one of my favourite stories in the anthology, Szal's dataSultan is set in a futuristic Middle Eastern setting where fantastical creatures like the powerful djinn have become manufactured commodities to serve human interests. Confronting intriguing concepts such as AI intelligence, prejudice, and folklore, dataSultan is full of rich culture, intriguing mysteries, and enchanting writing.

→ Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun – ★★★★★ ←

How different the world is when the illusion of civilization has shattered with the windows of the trains. How quickly history can unravel, taking us back to the beginning, when we walked the strange new world alone and armed with spears.

Weaving Silk is another lovely contribution to WTSR and it really held its ground amongst so many other well-written stories. Following two young Japanese girls who were recently orphaned after a huge natural disaster, Weaving Silk explores the difficulties and dangers of two young girls trying to survive in an apocalyptic world is struggling to remain hopeful. Sun's story really stuck with me long after I had finished reading it and is one that I will definitely return to reread.

→ Vanilla Rice by Angela Yuriko Smith – ★★☆☆☆ ←

This is one story that I felt very conflicted over and wasn't sure how to feel about it. Living in a world where the physical genetics of unborn babies can be manipulated by parents to achieve a particular look, single mother Meiko makes the decision to change her daughter's genetics to those of a golden haired, blue eyed, white child prior to her birth. Despite serious warnings from medical professionals over the dangers of such alterations, Meiko hates being Asian and covets having white skin so much that she decides it is the right decision for her a child. Definitely an interesting story, Vanilla Rice takes a deep look at racism/internalized racism, reproductive/genetics ethics, and belonging/difference.

→ Looking Up by S.B Divya – ★★★★☆ ←

As she climbs back into the car, Ayla realizes that at last, she can let go of the past. She can start fresh, not because she can leave her past behind, but because it will anchor her as she ventures onward and outward.

A lovely, empowering story about a disabled South Asian woman who makes a series of decisions to take back control of her life, confront a difficult family history, make reparations, and embark upon an exciting new future in space! A nice little story about love and forgiveness.

→ A Star is Born by Miki Dare – ★★★☆☆ ←

An engaging, humorous addition to the anthology. A Star is Born is about a time-traveling elderly woman with dementia who emigrated to Canada from Japan. I really adore SFF stories about elderly people as they are definitely an underrepresented group yet always have some of the best stories to tell. Told through alternating diary entries, we are able to piece together parts of Hitomi's difficult life as a Japanese immigrant during WWII and her enduring love for her family.

→ DNR by Gabriela Lee – ★★★★☆ ←

DNR was not at all what I was expecting it to and I found myself becoming quickly wrapped up in the world that Lee has created in this short story. Working as a night-shift coroner on an off-world Hospice that processes bodies, recycles their body parts, and prepares the deads memories for their loved ones, Filipino MC Melissa lives in a world that is safe, sterile and very ordered. That is until she stumbles upon the memories of a very unexpected relic of her past life. A wonderful story about tragedy, memory, and natural disaster DNR was such a fantastic read. The topic is one that I really love reading about and Lee's writing was very enjoyable.

→ Rose's Arm by Calvin D. Jim – ★★★☆☆ ←

Trapped in a life of poverty and struggle, Rose wants nothing more than to help her father make good Tofu after her mother's death but when Rose's father can bear to look at her all he can see is someone who is disabled. But when she meets an enigmatic doctor who offers her the opportunity to sell her eyes in exchange for a mechanical arm, Rose jumps at the chance much to her father's horror. In a world where the poor literally sell their body parts to get by, Rose's Arm is an interesting look at the intersections of poverty, race, and disability.

→ Back to Myan by Regina Kanyu Wang. Translated by Shaoyan Hu – ★★★★★ ←

If you didn't already know, I always there for Science Fiction stories about interesting alien worlds which are thick with richly detailed histories, cultures, and individuals so I was thrilled when I started reading Back to Myan. After being evacuated from her planet, Kaya's fishtail was surgically modified into feet and she was plunged into an oceanless world in the Union. Raised a refugee in the colony, Kaya works for a time as an engineer but something is calling her back to Myan. A beautiful story about rediscovering your roots and sticking it to colonialism, Back to Myan is definitely one of the best stories in WTSR.

→ Joseon Fringe by Pamela Q. Fernandes – ★★★☆☆←

I love the story that Fernandes decided to tell in WTSR as Joseon Fringe takes a unique look at the relationship between North and South Korea through the eyes of Sejong the Great in this alternative history. I am always up for alternative histories and Joseon Fringe did not disappoint. It's a wonderfully quick read that really offered something fresh at the halfway point of the anthology.

Overall, I absolutely loved Where the Stars Rise. Like any anthology, there are always additions which I didn't like as much as the others or didn't feel that they fit well within the anthology as a whole but there wasn't a story that I would rate below 2 stars. On average most stories are definitely in the 3-5 star category, many of which I would love to revisit at a later date to read again. My favourites from the anthology include Szal's dataSultans, Back to Myan by Regina Kanyu Wang, Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun, and Old Souls by Fonda Lee.

Once again the biggest thank you ever to Laksa Media Groups for allowing me to read Where the Stars Rise in exchange for an honest review. I am a huge fan of their anthologies and can't wait to get my hands on their next one 
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One thing I have been seeking is more science fiction from Asian authors. I also adore short stories To find all of this in one collection was like hitting a gold mine. This collection contains well-written, interesting, and unique stories. It was a wonderful tome to add to my own collection.
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This was really interesting and I'm glad that they have more books about Asian culture and myth. It was just a cool book.
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I loved this anthology! I thought was just the amount of unique perspective that science fiction and fantasy anthologies need. Great fun and voices that are severally lacking in one of my favorite genres!
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For me, the best speculative fiction seamlessly weaves together novel ideas and perspectives while keeping me enthralled in a good story. Where the Stars Rise promises just that, providing a wealth of viewpoints that are woefully underrepresented in much of mainstream speculative fiction. The stories range from Melissa Yuan-Innes' "Crash," a futuristic story of a sixteen-year-old's experience on a moon colony, to Ruhan Zhao's "My Left Hand," a short tale of high energy physics, time travel, and fortune tellers, to Gabriela Lee's "DNR", a story of personal tragedy and memory set in a world shattered by climate change and terrible earthquakes.

In this myriad of interesting stories, I think the one I found most memorable was Amanda Sun's gorgeously lyrical "Weaving Silk." In this short vignette, the main character and her sister are scraping together ingredients to make and sell onigiri. As they travel through a Japan wounded by both volcanic eruption and tsunami, she muses on the country's struggles to regain contact with a world that, before Japan was isolated by natural disaster, was itself enmeshed in incipient global warfare. The writing is packed with metaphor, haunting, and utterly gorgeous. A few of my favourite quotes:
"We are her [my mother's] bones, though. We are the tiny eggs left from the gleaming mouth, from the beat of her wings and the curl of her tired legs. We've awoken ravenous among the dark foliage, with only two thoughts in our heads--eat, survive. Eat. Survive. Silkworms, both of us, spinning our cocoons to blind ourselves."
"We are all little cocoons, I think, as I look at the people in the train. We spin threads around ourselves, shutting others out as if we were the only ones struggling to survive. Hungry to survive, destined to die. And yet together, unravelled, our stories form yards and yards of beautiful silken thread."

Each story was unique, but a few common themes wove them together. Perhaps the most common was a sense of difference and separation from the rest of society. For example, Ayla of S.B. Divya's "Looking Up" is hired for a journey to Mars as "one of our most diverse candidates" (sigh) but her cultural heritage combined with her physical disabilities and family history leaves her feeling isolated and adrift. The story is about forgiveness and finding a future while coming to terms with the past. In Diana Xin's "A Visitation for the Spirit Festival", Mrs. Liu finds herself revisiting her past when she travels to see her daughter who had quit her job in Silicon Valley to find her Chinese roots. A literal ghost becomes a metaphor for Mrs. Liu's complex relationship with her memories. "A Star is Born" by Miki Dare is told in a fascinating style, with alternating diary entries of an old woman with Alzheimer's who believes she can time travel to see alternate routes of her past interspersed with "timeline captures" of a Japanese girl dealing with tremendous prejudice in Canada during WWII. Like "Visitation", it deals with themes of tragedy, memory, and acceptance.

Multiple stories centered around people with a foot in two cultures who feel that they belonged to neither. The most memorable for me was "Back to Myan" by Regina Kanyu Wang, where the protagonist is literally a fish out of water. When Kaya's oceanus planet is destroyed, the Union rescues her and brings her up as one of them, to the point of surgically modifying her fins into feet. Brought up to blend in, she goes on a mission to rediscover her roots and finds far darker secrets than she could ever expect. The theme of dual cultures is played straight in Vanilla Rice" by Angela Yuriko Smith, where the child of an internet bride grows up in a world that equates whiteness with worth and chooses to genetically modify her child to appear Caucasian. The child seeks to find a way "to belong in my world, not someone else's." Karin Lowachee's "Meridian" is a scifi take on adoption across cultures, where the protagonist is "saved" and, after a few rounds of foster ships, is eventually "adopted" into a pirate crew. 

Some of the stories deal with even more direct prejudice. In Jeremy Szal's "The DataSultan of Streets and Stars" the protagonist and his brother are forced to flee after their father was killed in an anti-Muslim pogrom. Years later, the protagonist is forced into stealing a djinn-bot (universal assistant) he had created in his previous career as a programmer and "dataSultan." "Rose's Arm" by Calvin D. Jim deals with cultural and socioeconomic barriers. In this futuristic world where "the poor pay with their bodies" is anything but metaphorical, Rose Ishikawa struggles seeks to help her ailing father and considers selling her eyes to get a mechanical arm. In Priya Sridhar's "Memoriam", Anish's droid father lands right in the middle of uncanny valley and unsettles religious neighbors.

On of my favourite stories, E.C. Myers' "The Observer Effect", took the idea of being invisible out of the metaphoric sphere. It's a fun jaunt into an Incredibles-like world where the protagonist is positive that one of her coworkers is a retired superhero. It deals with expectations, casual prejudice, and the cultural invisibility of minorities and those with disabilities, all in an entertaining and amusing superhero costume. "The Orphans of Nilaveli" by Naru Dames Sundar also involves literal invisibility. The story takes place in a near-future Sri Lanka where everyone has implants that make the things they don't want to see invisible. Two adopted Tamil children grow up in a world that makes their people literally invisible and find themselves revolting against that blindness.

Another common theme was leveraging cultural traditions, history, and folklore. The most memorable for me was "Decision" by Joyce Chng. Creepy and wild, it weaves together themes of gender fluidity with folklore of a young spider-jinn leaving the nest. "Moon Halves" by Anne Carly Abad is an interesting reimagining of Filipino folklore, where humans participate in a hunting rite that involves hunting and killing an immature Taung Asu (tree spirit.) "Spirit of Wine" by Tony Pi is short, entertaining yarn involving a prefectural exam and a wine spirit. "Minsoo Kang's "Wintry Hearts of Those Who Rise" reads like an early folktale with protagonists who outsmart the rich and greedy, but the story has a mildly disturbing bite at the end. Deepack Bharathan's "Udatta Sloka" is a reimagined origin story of a god that deals with change, death, and the destruction of the Indus Valley Civilization. "Joseon Fringe" by Pamela Q. Fernandes is an alternate history of Sejong the Great that also provides fascinating commentary on the divided Koreas. "The Bridge of Dangerous Longings" by Rati Mehrotra is less directly inspired by folklore. A fantastical tale in a futuristic island cut off from the rest of the world by a bridge that no one has come back from, it deals with themes of violence and rape. I think it might have packed more of a punch had it not answered its own mysteries.

Last but not least, I found myself enjoying Fonda Lee's "Old Souls" as an echo of her wonderful Jade City. The protagonist can see the patterns of everyone's previous lives and wants to escape her own fate. The story is about choice, the need to forget and be able to start over, and patterns, personality, and what makes us innately ourselves. As one character says:
"Our lives are shaped by circumstance; we have patterns, but we do change."

Overall, it's a very interesting collection well worth reading if you're interested in scifi and fantasy a little off the beaten path.
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anthologies, especially by multiple authors, are notoriously hit and miss; however i am pleased to announce that this one was mostly hits. the stories were very unique and varied, which meant i didn't get bored reading any of them. my favourites were old souls by fonda lee (which was absolutely bloody brilliant and one of the best short stories i've ever read; it's worth getting this anthology just for this one to be honest) and the datasultan of streets and stars by jeremy szal.
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