Tuesday, December 26, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Water Into Wine / Joyce Chng

TITLE: Water Into Wine
AUTHOR: Joyce Chng
PUBLISHER: Annorlunda Books

Science Fiction

Water Into Wine tells the story of Xin, who cultivates an inherited vineyard in the shadow of an interplanetary war. Though the violence is never far, Xin tries to focus on cultivating a life and taking care of their family. It's a story of survival and self-discovery set against a sci-fi backdrop. Narrated in Xin's contemplative voice and written in spare, poetic prose, Water Into Wine is a haunting and atmospheric novella, so mesmerizing that I wound up reading the whole thing in a single day.

Xin is a complex character whose emotions and experiences feel as real on the page as picking up someone's diary. Though the story's set in the far future and on a distant planet, Xin's Southeast Asian roots and culture continue to play an important role in their life... from everyday things like food and names to matters of greater spiritual significance. Language, holidays, and beliefs from Xin's ancestors are all alive and well in their life. It's a wonderful and immersive take on sci-fi, and I was utterly drawn in from the beginning.

This is one of those books that's hard to review because there's so much to it, and I feel like my descriptive abilities aren't up to doing it justice. Every attempt to talk about what I liked and such feels like I'm reducing it to some simplified version. So I'll leave it here and settle for saying that this is a gorgeously written and hypnotic book, and that I highly recommend it.


Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction and YA. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Her YA science fiction trilogy is published by Singapore publisher, Math Paper Press. She can be found at A Wolf’s Tale (awolfstale.wordpress.com).

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