For an in-depth look at the world of web novels, please check out the MoonQuill Podcast, of which I’m a regular cast member of. Wuxia Selections is a special feature selection of the podcast hosted by yours truly, in which I dive in-depth on what is wuxia, xianxia, and the like.
Running through the weekend of May 16 is a Twitter Q&A session for Wandering Sparrows/譯派湖燕/译派湖燕: a Chinese diaspora women translators group founded by Yilin Wang. Get to know the group and our takes on how we approach work!
— Yilin Wang (she/they) @Flights of Foundry, 5/16-17 (@yilinwriter) May 17, 2020
And finally, Necropolis Immortal reading on Sunday, May 17 @ 11pm GMT+8/5pm GMT+2/11am US EST/8am US PST on the Wuxiaworld Discord server. A Q&A will follow, in which I’ll try my darndest not to give any spoilers!
I had the privilege of weathering SARS as a student, and though memories are hazy since that was back in 2003, I distinctly recall the miasma of fear and uncertainty that shrouded the island. Those negative emotions are more than likely heightened for me, because my school ended up closing after a student’s parent died from SARS.
When local news hesitantly mentioned a new respiratory disease on CNY Eve (Jan 24), I had a long discussion with my parents on whether we should prepare ourselves. Thinking about it again and again, I reluctantly ordered some face masks after the traditional family reunion dinner. The masks were very cheap, things considering, and all the gatherings to come over the next week meant we could distribute them to relatives.
“Surely it’s not going to be another SARS. You’re knee-jerking a bit too much.” I think that might’ve been my mom.
Thank goodness I hit “buy” before falling asleep. They were all sold out two days later.
Not gonna lie, the first few weekswere pretty tense.
The coronavirus hitting around CNY was the best worst timing. This is a holiday in Asia that can span two weeks, depending on the country, and is Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter all rolled into one. For migrant workers, this is the only time of year where they get to see their family. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call this period the annual Asian migration.
A tense undercurrent immediately started running through family gatherings. Regardless of intensity, the island’s population remembers SARS very well.
Questions were bandied around, “Do we cancel the traditional meal on the second day of CNY? Should we not visit each other this year? Should so-and-so with young kids head home early?”
In the end, my family decided to go through all of the CNY festivities with face masks on and adjusted times to avoid crowds.
Daily news updates starting rolling in; a grim atmosphere settled onto the island. We still had our fair share of blasé folks, like some relatives who initially declined the extra face masks. But by and large, folks acknowledged the need for caution.
Why the sudden ratcheting up of tension? I get it, it’s hard for folks who’ve never experienced something similar to understand what’s going on. It looks like an overreaction, or a bunch of Chicken Littles prophesying the end of the world.
Here’s a quote from someone who has COVID-19: “To everyone who said it was just a bad cold or like the flu, or that people were far more likely to be asymptomatic: f*ck you. You have no idea what you’re talking about. This is not the cold. This is worse than the worst flu I’ve had. This is the Grim Reaper knocking on my door.”
SARS was less infectious, but more fatal than the coronavirus.
It really hit home when a businessman returning from Wuhan flouted his self-quarantine and visited a seedier nightclub. Alarm bells rang when one of the ladies who served him came down with a cough, sore throat, and other symptoms. Upon demanding answers, she finally learned of his recent trip. The club shut down for immediate, thorough disinfection, and the businessman’s route over the past few days was disseminated to the public.
The club was in the same neighborhood as my elderly relatives, and I’d just missed his trip down the high speed rail by one day.
Thankfully, he wasn’t a super spreader and that was the end of that case. However, I started checking the news obsessively and worried there were more selfish pricks out there.
Could I trust the people on the bus I was taking? Was that cough just now as innocent as it seemed? Who else was hiding their travel history? Where does case 34 live??
PSA: To anyone flouting self-quarantine rules, yeah you’re a selfish prick/biatch. The desire to go drinking, clubbing, shopping, eating, and seeing friends can wait two weeks. It took one super spreader in South Korea to infect almost 40 people at church, which sent off a chain reaction throughout the country.
I don’t care if you feel healthy. The incubation period is 14 days and infectious even when asymptomatic. Stay. home. If there’s a lockdown order in place for your area, please don’t treat it as a joke.
Everything was uncertain in the first couple of weeks. The island braced for a possible ballooning of cases, and whispers ran rife through the streets.
“So-and-so’s uncle’s neighbor’s mother’s daughter-in-law’s second-cousin-twice-removed’s son says that a confirmed case popped up at XXX hospital!”
“New construction suddenly started on my block. Can it be for quarantine tents??”
“I heard this is airborne.” “I heard it’s not airborne.” “Is it airborne?”
“They announced 7 new cases today, but who knows if that’s the real number? How many more lurk amongst us?”
How’s life in Taiwan nowadays? TL;DR – it’s normal
After CNY, I wondered if I should refrain from returning to Taipei, but did so in the end. There were roughly 10 cases on the island at the beginning of Feb, and I admit I selfishly wanted to return to familiar surroundings.
As the coronavirus flairs up in the west, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from friends and family on how everything is here. And honestly, that ties into one of the hardest things about writing this article — what to title it.
Taiwan’s not under a lockdown, and neither am I in quarantine. “A COVID-19 Tale: Things-Are-Relatively-Normal-Despite-General-Unease Day 58”?
First time outside since the end of CNY.
90%+ of general public in face masks, disinfectant run over MRT escalator handrails, malls constantly mopped, Din Tai Fung servers in masks & mask prices coming down tomorrow.
People are out on the streets, I got my fix of bubble tea today, and all establishments are still open. Large-scale events like concerts and weddings are cancelled, but life has continued on like usual. In fact, I feel that we were getting too complacent, and the recent spike in cases has jolted everyone back to wakefulness again.
This isn’t to say that the coronavirus is a joke, however. One patient’s tale above shows more than anything how it’s very, very serious. It all has to do with the measures the island took. This is how it manifested in my day-to-day.
When I returned to Taipei, I saw with gratification that all stores and restaurants had hauled out disinfectant and thermometers. This continues to this day. A quick scan of the forehead and splash of alcohol is required before entering an establishment. Some performance halls even record everyone’s temperature next to their names. Thermal screening is found in malls, the MRT, and businesses. Face masks are everywhere, despite the initial shortage.
This is one of the things that’s saddened me the most re. east vs west COVD-19 reactions. The face mask culture is so different, and I’ve had so many friends targeted with racism when wearing them in the west. Face masks are not useless, and if most of the population is wearing it, that drastically helps cut down infection.
Overheard a truck going down the street rapping,
“Wear face masks, wear face masks, you and I should wear face masks! Wear face masks, wear face masks, everybody in face masks!”
Apologies for the hashtag, this is before the COVID-19 name came out.
After the initial scramble for face masks, the government stepped in to centralize distribution and regular prices. I helped some relatives purchase their daily quota from convenience stores, but didn’t bother lining up for any myself when purchase was later tied to national health ID cards.
To quote a Taiwanese meme: 我ok, 你先買 > I’m okay, you buy first. When my masks ran out, I was blessed with the most generous readers on earth. Several of them leapt into action to send me what they could find.
This rationing extended to disinfectant as well, with the severity of rationing easing as factories ramp up production. People are also able to buy face masks online now instead of queuing for hours in front of a pharmacy (instructions above).
Nothing else is rationed. Shelves are stocked full of goods, except toilet paper. We’re short on that here too, lol. It briefly eased when the legislative leader memed that, “People, we only have one butt!”, but flared up again this week.
Daily livestreamed press conferences keep everyone in the loop. The authorities are forthcoming with information, except the exact location of the cases. That’s a stark difference from South Korea, and an omission that prompts plenty of debate. I found myself getting too stressed out and panicky with all the news coming in, so actively tried to refocus on other things in mid Feb.
By the way, foreign visitors are banned of as March 19 and as of March 22, even transit is banned. (Bans for various areas have been enacted since late Jan.) To folks blithely asking me if they can come visit Taiwan right now since flights are cheap, everything is closed at home, and they’re bored — you can’t, and even without that, HELLS NO. Don’t travel right now. There were 5,000 tourists caught off-guard about the ban on March 19. It was March 19, not January 19, folks! Why were you traveling for pleasure??
On a personal level, friends immediately cut down on social gatherings. No movies, no communal restaurants, and no welcoming back anyone who’s recently travelled. We pick local pubs and bars, eschewing the busy and tourist-popular Xinyi district.
What to do when CORVID-19 community infections are a thing in Taiwan?
Eschew all outside jaunts & have a house party! Friends were asked to take off their coats & wash their hands upon arrival & all asked abt recent travel history.
We gather together just once a week, and birthday celebrations are a modest affair. There was one house gathering in mid Feb, and everyone entering the house got unified greetings of, “Hi!! Go wash your hands!”. And now, everything’s on hold for two weeks as we weather the wave of returnees from the west.
Many companies suddenly announced all non-essential employees were to work from home starting last week (March 18), likely in response to the massive increase in imported cases. Some of my friends have had to upgrade home internet to do so, the financial burdens of which are eased by government reimbursement. The second wave of government assistance rolled out on March 25 — mostly utility relief for households and companies. The first wave hit in mid-February, with 60B NTD going towards industries affected by the virus.
Despite being warned about a mass of returnees from the west, it is still a psychological blow to see numbers climbing 23 cases, 27 cases, 18, 16… Those are 10-20% daily increases. This has ratcheted up tension on the island, and were the final death knells for weddings to take place at the end of the month/beginning of the next.
And though folks in more stricken countries may roll their eyes and scoff at 200+ cases (March 25) being a big deal, that’s the thing when it comes to living in Asia. Things spread like wildfire with how densely packed in everyone is and how interconnected everything is. South Korea exploded with several thousand cases over the course of a single week.
What’s most irritating now are the quarantine escapees. Taiwan fines escapees up to 1,000,000 NTD (USD 33,000). Good. The fines should be higher. Just this weekend, we had a club reveler busted for violating quarantine (said club has decided to temporarily close down as of March 23). Due to a newly launched platform integrating multiple databases, big red characters of “UNDER QUARANTINE” popped up when his ID was scanned.
Thankfully, most people do stay put, most likely encouraged by the new quarantine pay that’s been rolled out. Those under house quarantine receive 14,000 NTD for the two weeks (that’s almost 50% of the lowest monthly salary, almost USD 500). It’s not much, but employing both carrot and stick at the same time likely makes for higher effectiveness.
The number of home quarantine people in major cities #Taiwan as of March 24
Since I have a lot of friends in the local healthcare industry, I was quite worried about them early on. In late Jan, the government stepped in to control PPE production, distribution, and pricing — making for short-term general public shortages that were slowly eased as factory capacity increased (from a hefty investment). The shortage was at first irritating and panic-inducing from a general public perspective, but the wisdom there seems to be clear as I haven’t seen my friends agitate about a lack of PPE.
The government also merged data from the national health IDs to the customs + immigration dataset. This way, a patient’s recent travel history will pop up whenever they go in for an eye exam, a root canal, or a sniffle. Sadly, it’s proven useful because people will be selfish arseholes and conceal travel history, whether out of convenience or fear.
Oh c’mon, it’s just the flu! I’m young, it’s not gonna affect me.
If travel was still a thing, I’d hop on the next flight to physically shake you into next week. Hopefully, this has been debunked by now, and please read the tough guy’s account above. But if not, here goes:
Symptoms can take up to 14 days to manifest, and you can infect others during this time.
You can be an asymptomatic carrier and still infect others.
The coronavirus death rate is 20 times more lethal than the flu.
There is a vaccine, multiple vaccines for the flu. There is none for the coronavirus.
If you care about someone with a compromised immune system, asthma, any chronic condition, or is just simply older — this will hurt them so much more. It can easily kill them. This isn’t about you, it’s about them.
At the end of the day, the measures have really worked for Taiwan. The island managed to hold cases to 59 for roughly two months, and the increase in imported cases was inevitable.
The government’s swift response was definitely crucial, but I think equally important was the public’s mindset. All the thermometers and disinfectant just whooshed into existence, and all patrons are very understanding and patient. Holding my hands out for a spray of alcohol is second nature now, and I actually panicked yesterday when my face unlocked my phone.
“Wait… Face ID just worked. I haven’t been able to do that in months… F*CK I FORGOT MY MASK AND I’M IN AN ELEVATOR. F*CKF*CKF*CK.”
The general mindset is mostly one of, “We understand the need for these inconveniences and why everyone’s being more cautious. Yes, it’s annoying. No, I won’t travel. …fine, my wedding is postponed. WTF is wrong with that friend who just came back from abroad and wants to meet up?? Million dollar question, when the hell is toilet paper gonna be back in stock?”
This kind of mindset is something that everyone needs to adopt, and understand that inconveniences are inevitable. We must buckle down in the short-term to ensure that everyone gets through this.
Avoiding indoor spaces and crowds means getting some exercise checking out urban nooks and crannies in Taipei!
Life goes on, as we see from communities preparing for the Lantern Festival and grabbing noodles from the neighborhood hole in the wall. 🤗 pic.twitter.com/eyu4gVvavX
Definitely wash those hands. Whenever you come back inside, don’t touch anything before washing your hands. In fact, strip and shower before heading elsewhere in the house, if possible. Try not to touch your face and ears when outside.
Disinfect door knobs, locks, handles, and commonly shared areas on a regular basis. Wipe down groceries too! There’s no telling how many have handled them before you took them home.
Those with some extra supplies to spare, check in on your healthcare friends, grocery store employees, and delivery folk. Do they have enough? Maybe they need a roll of toilet paper. Finding a microwaveable, home-cooked meal on their doorstep when they come home after a 16-hour shift could mean so much to them. The only way we get through this is by caring for each other, together.
Friends who are extroverts or those who live alone could absolutely do with a checkup. I’ve taken to buying local baked goods and sending it to family in other cities. That knocks out two birds with one stone — supporting local businesses and reassuring folks that they’re not alone.
If you want to go hardcore with the baking, perhaps some home baked goods for those on the front lines. Something easy to eat and nutritious. They’ll really need it in the days to come.
That’s great and all etvo, but I’m seriously bored.
Haul out that homebody bucket list, because things are about to get wild. This is the perfect time for everything you’d always meant to get to, but just never did.
Since February, I’ve revamped my balcony garden, literally scrubbed every single surface and room in my apartment, Konmarie’d all of my belongings, finally organized the damn work shelves, annihilated every last bit of laundry (I never have a pile, woot!), cleaned out all home appliances, put up shelves, and started a wall mural of postcards. I’m still getting around to redoing my bookshelves. Oh you know what, cleaning the fridge will be a good task too.
Chores really do eat up a lot of time and they’re good exercise. At the end of it all, you’ll have a home you know is relatively germ-free, and a spic and span sight that’s easy on the eyes.
I’ve also caught up on several TV series, started a home gym routine, and written a ton in my bullet journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings might greatly help in the days to come.
Do you know how to cook? Best. time. to. learn. ever. This is the beginning of a healthy, cheap habit that will pay dividends after all this is over. Bonus, there’s much less exposure if you don’t have to do food runs.
Social distancing means I’ve been in a restaurant twice in the last two months = plenty of time for home culinary adventures!
I’ve tried all sorts of odd combinations: Asian-flair spaghetti, substituting sweet potato pancakes for carbs & super fancy ramen. What’re you up to? pic.twitter.com/a3SUIAGUvk
When all that seems too solitary, it’s the perfect time to get back in touch with those you haven’t talked to in a while. College roommates, fraternity brothers, book club members, or heck, even the girl you never asked out. Silver lining: asking folks how they’re coping is an easy conversation starter.
I’m seeing friends watch movies together through online streaming syncing services. Absolutely brilliant! Group exercises might be a thing to try too. I did an hour of core sculpting yoga and got my butt absolutely kicked. I thought yoga was supposed to be stretching and relaxing?
The outside is still accessible! Throw open windows, chill out on a balcony, or walk around in your background. Even taking walks out and about is fine if you stay away from people. Vitamin D is helpful for the immune system and general mentalities. Disconnecting from the internet/news will do wonders for mental health. Find some inner peace and don’t let everything overwhelm you.
Ventured out of my usual neighborhood yesterday for some vitamin D and UV rays. Man the streets were quiet!
Also swung by the Howard Hotel, a favorite place of my folks when growing up. Great traditional Taiwanese food!
Please take this seriously, but know that we’ll get through this.
The sky isn’t falling in, but neither is this just a flu. While my life is still relatively normal, I know that’s an abnormality. It’s hardly what you should expect, unless your government took similar measures and the general population is just as receptive.
Of course, our regular day-to-day this time ’round all comes from Taiwan being roundhouse-kicked in the face by SARS. We sure as heck don’t have all the answers, nor are we some perfect utopia. Back in the SARS days, the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital was spontaneously closed after a cluster case broke out, sealing 930 staff and 240 patients inside.
I’m advised by local healthcare-related friends that medical personnel literally went insane from the pressure. Thankfully, I think that’s no longer a policy. This kind of prior experience is what’s shaped Taiwan’s reactions today. One doesn’t emerge from the flames completely unscathed and unchanged.
One of my greatest struggles now is still trying to get friends and family in the west to take this seriously. Westerners, I understand. It’s very difficult to imagine the impact of a pandemic if one’s never lived through it. But Asians with family in Asia? I actually had a relative ask me a few weeks ago, “C’mon, is it really~~~ that bad~?”
Hello?? Yes, please do treat this seriously.
But also, as crazy as the days now might seem, please don’t despair. Sure, this will take longer than a three-week lockdown to resolve, and everyone’s itching for this to be over quickly. Let’s stand with each other; we’re going to get through this. But do postpone everything through May. I was to attend a wedding in the States in late May — it’s just been moved.
Also, please let me know if you need food. I’ll put out a request on my social media, and if not, I can ship you ramen and curry blocks from Taiwan (they’ll take 8-13 business days).
May we live long and prosper.
Let’s go see the cherry blossoms together when this is over.
And watch a movie, eat hotpot, run a marathon, and swing by all the touristy places.
What happens when you wake up in a novel, not as the main character, but as the supporting cast doomed for execution in a year?
This is a novel that I worked on two years ago as the lead translator and personally did 25% of the novel. It’s an absolutely hilarious romp, and remains one of volare’s most popular offerings to this day.
“Get with the male lead? I just want to stay alive! You can have him, anyone else can have him!”
Would you like to smack Qin Huining, Yuchi Yan, the old dowager, or Li Qitian? You can only pick one!
First off, a huge THANK YOU to all of my readers. This isn’t your typical web novel, so I dearly appreciate everyone very much so! This is a novel of nonstop politicking, scheming, and war between nations, all wrapped up in a no-filler perspective from a sometimes savage noble girl.
To celebrate this chapterversary, I’d like to hand out some marriage gifts for Qin Yining’s wedding!
Ahem, placeholder graphic. XD I yoinked it before Yuuko was done
WHAT ARE THE PRIZES?
One Fuji Instax Mini 9 bundle with film, case, album, lens, and more! When Pang Xiao and Qin Yining are parted… things would’ve been more bearable with pictures of each other!
General goods from Taiwan — it may not be Great Yan or Great Zhou, but there’s an interesting selection of souvenirs to choose from!
Leave a rating and write a review for ROS on the NovelUpdates page. Also, please add it to your reading list to help ROS climb the ranks! I am not soliciting positive-only reviews. Write what you’d like!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your volare username and a screenshot of the NU review for verification. The screenshot should clearly indicate your NU username and review date!
Get those entries in by midnight, December 1st, US PST! That’s 4pm, December 2nd GMT+8.
ETVO I HAVE A QUESTION!
How are you choosing the winners?
RNG madness <3
After RNG chooses the winners, I will rank entries based on quality and depth of review. I will not penalize negative reviews.
E.g. RNG chooses entry #53 and #54. #53 is a single line about how “ROS is cute. U guys shud read.” while #54 goes into a rant of how irritating and unredeemable the villains in ROS are. I will most likely rank #54 higher, unless it insults the author or me somehow.
I’ve already reviewed ROS!
No worries! Update your review and send in your entry!
I’ve been stacking chapters to binge read!
No problem, giveaway ends in 10 days on midnightDecember 1st, US PST! That includes two weekends and food coma time over the Thanksgiving holiday. While waiting for the turkey to cook, come read ROS!
It’s really hard to ship to my country!
Indeed, some places are hard to ship to. We’ll work something out!
I still chuckle when I think about how ROS came to be. I almost didn’t pick it up in the first place because I felt the Chinese synopsis was very generic/cheesy, and the typical female lead gets all the guys fluff fluff plot line. Then I wasn’t sure when I could get to it because I started another novel before it. Bizarrely, the stars aligned in the form of a huge plot hole in that novel, so I had to pause it and therefore… get started on ROS, woot!
We’re kicking off the celebrations early for this milestone because it’s a humdinger of a writing contest! This special event is a blast from the past and revamped in conjunction with writing community Moonquill and LitRPG author Pegaz!
Thank you to all you wonderful readers who have followed SOTR from day 1 or day 1000. The journey started four years ago! Entry tickets to JC’s old men harem for all of you! XD We’re throwing a party that everyone can participate in, and that focuses on the best parts of SOTR.
SHORT STORY CONTEST PRIZE POOL:
A Samsung Galaxy S10 to solve all the communication issues in SOTR. GPS tracking for Ling Bi’er! Facetune so JC would’ve known Nian’er is his kid. Facebook to show off his old men harem! (Eh, wot?)
Jot down your best inspiration for a short story or poem and submit it through the Moonquill site! There’s no real deadline before the event ends, but remember voting starts on Oct. 1! Get your entries in before then for the best chance of winning~
SHORT STORY PROMPT (1000-5000 words):
Illustrate what happened to certain characters or locations while they were “off-screen”, or go off the rails and take the story in a completely different direction! What if a battle hadn’t turned out the way it did? What if best girl was someone else, or Jiang Chen had a different personality? Would it still be Sovereign of the Three Realms?
Write a poem that ties into a facet of SOTR. This can entail things such as Jiang Chen’s old man harem, the infamous fart that kicked off the story, or any other facet of the story.
Submissions start Sept. 2, and voting starts Oct. 1.Anyone is free to read and vote on the Moonquill site.There will also be cash prizes for random voters, so cast a vote for your favorites! Winners will be announced in November. They will be able to pick their prize from the pool in descending order.
ETVO I HAVE A QUESTION!
How are you choosing the winners?
Five for each category will be decided by reader vote, which opens on 10/1. Remember, you might win $$ simply for voting!
A sixth for each category will be chosen by me, Pegaz (who generously sponsored some prizes), and Moonquill staff (the heroes behind the submission/voting infrastructure and consultants of writing contests!)
Who is this Pegaz guy?
Just your neighborhood nice author who got excited for SOTR’s milestone and decided to kick in some prizes as well! Thank you Pegaz! <3 He specializes in LitRPGs, so if that’s up your alley, idle games got nothin’ on The Idle System!
It’s really hard to ship to my country!
Indeed, some places are hard to ship to. We’ll work something out!
I don’t read Chinese web novels. Who the heck are you
Haiiii! I’m your neighborhood friendly fluff aka etvolare aka former NYC finance professional now full-time xianxia/CN romance translator.
SOTR is my first novel from when I first set foot in this scene four years ago. I may eat dirt for a few months for this contest, but this milestone deserves a celebration! CN web novel authors need to publish ~10k characters a day, so the finished product here might be different to what English readers are used to with published works. But it’s still a good time!
Simply leave a comment on this IG post sharing what your favorite ROS scene has been thus far, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for some etvo chicken scratches, souvenirs from Taiwan, Japan, and Tokyo Disney~ The giveaway will run through to Oct. 28, 2018~
Drop a follow too to keep up on love, life, and moar etvo!