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Yoon Ha Lee

Fiction and Excerpts [3]
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Fiction and Excerpts [3]

Composing Music and Orchestrating A Space Opera

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

When I was a small child, I thought everyone composed music in their heads.

It was obvious. I made up music—albeit not very good music—so it must be something everyone did. I figured they just didn’t talk about it.

I don’t come from a family of musicians. But my dad loved listening to classical music, and as a child I would stand in the living room and let the strains of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake wash over me. If I was very good, sometimes he would let me put on the record myself so I could listen.

When the next-door neighbor’s kid started piano lessons, I visited and plunked on the keys and declared that I, too, wanted to learn the piano. My mom, being an Asian parent, took me at my word and started me on piano lessons the next year. Ironically, I hated those piano lessons! Especially since my mom actually made me practice.

[But now I had an instrument that I could write for.]

A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel

The Conflagration

Among the universe’s civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night. Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies.

The people of a certain red star no longer speak its name in any of their hundreds of languages, although they paint alien skies with its whorled light and scorch its spectral lines into the sides of their vessels.

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