Cheah Kit Sun or “Benjamin” is Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated author. His book No Gods, Only Daimons was nominated for the Dragon Awards in 2017. His short story “Flashpoint: Titan” in There Will Be War: Volume X was a 2016 Hugo Award nominee. And I had the opportunity to talk to him.

 

Tamara Wilhite: You’re the first Hugo winner I’ve spoken with, and you’re the first person I know of who has won a Dragon award as well as a Hugo. How would you compare the two?

Cheah Kit Sun: I have not won those awards. I was only nominated for them.

The Dragon Awards is open to anyone. Any fan can vote, any author or creator with an eligible work can participate. With no barriers to entry, it reflects the fandom’s choice of the year. 2020 saw over 8000 ballots.

The Hugo Awards is a dumpster fire. Once it was the most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy. Then it became dominated by authors better known for their politics and messaging than the strength of their prose. The Sad and Rabid Puppies campaigns demonstrated that the Hugo Award participants would rather burn down the award than grant it to anyone not on the Left. It’s no wonder that participation has been steadily dropping over the years, with just 1249 ballots in 2020.

The Hugo Awards is what happens when social justice warriors converge an award.

 

Tamara Wilhite: The last time we spoke, you had just started your cyberpunk dystopian series “Singularity Sunrise” with the release of “Edenet”. You’re now up to five books. Can you tell readers what that is about?

Cheah Kit Sun: Singularity Sunrise places humanity at the brink of the Technological Singularity: a point in time at which technological growth leads to unfathomable changes in human civilization. The trigger is the creation of a super-intelligent Artificial General Intelligence, an AI that can learn and understand anything a human can—but better and faster. The AGI’s existence threatens to obsolete humanity.

A Polish megacorporation has developed the world’s first AGI. And China has abducted a key scientist responsible for its creation.

This sparks a shadow conflict spanning Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, as governments and corporations struggle to decide the future of humanity.

It is also a personal story between James Morgan, a psychic mercenary, and the AGI. In a world of full-body cyborgs and augmentations, Morgan has rejected almost all cybernetics, believing that implants would diminish his powers. Throughout the series, he must teach the AGI what it means to be human—and keep it from crossing the line.

 

Tamara Wilhite: You mentioned in a social media post that you’d finished your stint in the Singapore military. What was that like?

Cheah Kit Sun: In a word: boring.

All eligible Singaporean males must serve 2 years of full-time national service. Having passed the physical fitness tests in junior college, I could shave off 2 months from that period.

I was assigned to the 46th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment. My time as a conscript was absolutely unremarkable. I just did all the menial and tedious work nobody else wanted or could do. However, I had the honour of serving alongside some of the finest soldiers and commanders in the Army. Shortly after I completed my full-time National Service, 46 SAR was disbanded.

After full-time National Service, men must continue to serve Operationally Ready National Service. This lasts for about 10 years, comprising of annual reservist training and mobilization periods. Once again I did pretty much everything what I did back as a full-time conscript, only much less of it.

Now that I’ve completed my ORNS period, I just need to hold on to my gear until I reach the statutory age, at which point I am released from all reservist obligations.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Did that influence your short story collection “Babylon Blues”? That’s described as a cyberpunk military horror collection.

Cheah Kit Sun: Not at all. My military experience was nowhere near as exciting as the events of Babylon Blues.

Babylon Blues is what happens when you cross the FBI, HRT and Brazilian BOPE, place them in a high-tech world filled with demons and monsters, and charge them with protecting what few innocents are left.

Babylon Blues was conceived well after I completed my full-time National Service period. There are some Singaporean influences if you know what to look for, but no influences specific to military service.

 

Tamara Wilhite: What prompted you to write “Sane in a Crazy World”?

Cheah Kit Sun: We live in a crazy world. A world of outrage, identity politics, emotional manipulation and lies. I wanted to write a quick guide for readers to develop mindfulness under such pressures, and to achieve emotional freedom.

It is a collection of three simple exercises that work on the physical, emotional and mental levels. It’s a crash course, it is not a complete guide to enlightenment, but it will help you cut through the nonsense of this crazy world, and point you to other avenues for development.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Will you be publishing anything else in the “Covenant Chronicles” series?

Cheah Kit Sun: I hope to, but for now, my focus is on other projects.

 

Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?

Cheah Kit Sun: I am presently putting the finishing touches on “Babylon Red”, the sequel to “Babylon Blues”. In “Babylon Red”, the team is scattered, the Special Tasks Section disbanded, and the New Gods are back on the warpath. To survive, and to continue the mission of protecting the innocent, they must become urban guerillas.

My current work in progress is called “Saga of the Swordbreaker”. It is a science fantasy cultivation series, with significant Chinese cultural influences. It is the story of Li Ming, a bodyguard and beast hunter for hire, who dreams of being a youxia, a wandering hero. Armed with the titular swordbreaker, his journey will pit him against ruthless bandits, bloodthirsty beasts, and a secret society that threatens to overturn Heaven and Earth.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Cheah Kit Sun: Thanks for reading, and please keep an eye out for Babylon Red and Saga of the Swordbreaker when they drop.

In the meantime, you can check out Babylon Blues and Edenet on Amazon.

You can also check out my bibliography and author services page.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Thank you for speaking with me.

Cheah Kit Sun:  You’re welcome, and thanks for the opportunity!

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