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Cho, Zen

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1986-    ) Malaysian author now resident in the UK, where she practices as a solicitor. She began publishing short fiction with "The Guest" in Expanded Horizons for November 2010, making her first professional sale in the following year with "­起狮,行礼" ["Rising Lion – The Lion Bows"] in Strange Horizons for 21 March 2011.

Cho's first foray into longer form was the historical romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (2012 ebook), which she self-published. She followed this up, however, with Spirits Abroad (coll 2015), published in Malaysia, which went on to win the Crawford Award (see Awards), the first time the award had been presented to a Malaysian author. That same year, Cho edited Cyberpunk: Malaysia (anth 2015), which intriguingly assembles fourteen original stories by Malaysian writers on the titular theme of Cyberpunk.

Cho broke into wider prominence that same year with publication of her first novel, Sorcerer to the Crown (2015) which garnered significant attention. On the surface a light-hearted Fantasy of Manners, inspired by such English authors as P G Wodehouse, Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) and – notably – Susanna Clarke with her epic Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004), the novel nevertheless offers a rather well constructed post-colonial critique of the same tropes it engages with. It is set in an Alternate History Regency-era Britain in which Magic is practiced and trade is conducted with Fairyland [for Faerie and Fantasy of Manners see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], which, it turns out, controls the means of production of magic. The two heroes, England's first African "Sorcerer Royal" and a young witch of mixed heritage, team up to solve the problem of diminishing magic while falling in love, while contending with the prejudice of their society (see Race in SF). Further volumes are projected. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water (2020) is a deft exercise in Wuxia with a female protagonist coming to terms with and sorting out an amoral world.

Cho's story "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again," (29 November 2018 Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog) won a Hugo as best novelette. [LTi]

see also: Eastercon; GigaNotoSaurus.

Zen Cho

born Selangor, Malaysia: 1986



Sorcerer Royal

individual titles


  • Spirits Abroad (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Fixi Novo, 2014) [coll: pb/Teck Hee]
    • Spirits Abroad (no place given: published for the author, 2014) [coll: ebook: exp of the above, with 5 additional stories: na/M Sereno as Likhain]
      • Spirits Abroad (Easthampton, Massachusetts: Small Beer Press, 2021) [coll: exp of the above: pb/]
  • The Terracotta Bride (Los Gatos, California: Smashwords, 2016) [coll: ebook: na/M Sereno as Likhain]

works as editor


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