Recommendation: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami


Excerpt: From July of his sophomore year in college until the following January, all Tsukuru Tazaki could think about was dying. He turned twenty during this time, but this special watershed — becoming an adult — meant nothing. Taking his own life seemed the most natural solution, and even now he couldn’t say why he hadn’t taken this final step. Crossing that threshold between life and death would have been easier than swallowing down a slick, raw egg.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a quietly wondrous exploration of self-actualization and social acceptance in our quizzically-structured human world. The protagonist is a mellow, “colorless” being as the title suggests, who transforms into an individual who cements his center and who he believes he is. As a reader, you may find that you cannot help but empathize with him, for there is a quality of self-doubt about him that speaks familiarly to the human psyche.

The author’s writing is a gentle rapture as always, with deceptively simple language that belies a deeper philosophy worth ruminating. Although the plot does not tie all of its loose ends, it manages to sufficiently quench any broader disparities and come full circle. A definite read for fans of the author and his style, but do pick up for the transcendental ethos and vividly unforgettable characters.

Submitted by Kari H.


[ calamity kills ]

Calamity Kills

i screamed at my reflection

and ate my pain,

one fine midnight:

“if atlas could shoulder the world,

then you can let them all step on yours;

you are unallowed the privilege of suffering,

so take it and stomach it.”

if only i lent a valiant ear.

if only i was martyred well.

i am sick with sorrow and anguish,

and the rot, the morality

has made my lungs filthful;

so what good is a noose,

what good is a vow,

when Melpomene cannot usurp my painted Thalia,

when elder-sludge violates the space between my eyes;

I will patch the world with my flesh––


{ i wouldn’t have it any other way. }

Written by contributor Kari H. (visit her blog at for more works!)

mirrors and theurgy by Nadia

Mirrors and Theurgy

some eyes made for a poor adventure.

his did. perhaps. certainty? maybe—

no scrap of an argentine promise, none but the screw-and-bolt carcass of

a cimmerian centipede—
laid in the worst shade of death.


x }
who said eyes were divine in the heat of love


they played a game of mirror, mirror

each time proximity proved

beyond an opiate eidolon (guzzling fire in the water—

heroisms, metagraphic hooks- –
storebought sleights to make up for nihil.
( how’d they. how’d they
turn to blooming tether in the noir-factor



I took your naught for a nectar
( by some sorcerous error; a chant in murky sugars-deep- –
why’d the lull of your wasteland
key itself in?

and now
now   can’t you see that
all I want is mirrors—

for my falsehood sun.

Written by Nadia Sim
(originally featured on her writing blog at

Recommendation: Sanctuary by Allen Steele

illustrated by Gregory Manchess

Written in the form of logbook extracts, the story follows the experiences of the passengers onboard the Exodus Project Starship (EPSS) Lindbergh as colonists on a new world. The author utilises the perspectives of different crew members of the starship, primarily the Commanding Officer (CO), the Chief Engineer, a senior scientist, and a shuttle pilot. Through each subsequent entry, the author balances the initial triumph experienced by the crew and the increasing uneasiness when they encounter a mysterious phenomenon of which they are entirely unfamiliar with and unprepared for.

An excerpt from,

10.26.2266 rel/0929 ST/le894/G. [Giovanni] Patini, shuttle pilot

Second survey mission to TC-e scrubbed. Orville control systems not responding to preflight checks. Mechanical difficulty of unknown nature.

Santos-Dumont has scrubbed its second sortie as well. Same reason: Wilbur unable to launch. Spoke to Jake [Moore, Wilbur shuttle pilot]; says the same thing happened to him during preflight checks. Cockpit comp screens went dark, manual controls refused to budge.


[Log entries 895–911 lost.]


10.27.2266 rel/1136 ST/le912/Y. Greer, CO

Tonya and Aaron [Willig, Lindbergh astrobiologist] inform me that TC-e’s native civilization may be more advanced than previously believed. This could spell trouble.

Until now, it’s been thought that the inhabitants are at a pretechnological stage of development, with perhaps no more than an agrarian culture. This was the opinion of our science team after studying the coastal settlements on TC-e’s major continents while waiting for technicians on both ships to ascertain the causes for the shuttle breakdowns and effect repairs (ref. Doc. LR2713). However, further telescopic observations confirm the existence of large ocean-going sailcraft, with some appearing to be two- or three-mast catamarans. This is evidence that the “Cetans” (as Tonya calls them) have learned to harness wind power and build seafaring vessels. It is therefore possible that the Cetans may be engaged in fishing and trade, perhaps even at global distances.

The presence of a native civilisation also poses a potential threat to the passengers of the Lindbergh. Their initial assumptions were dismissive but upon stumbling onto the phenomenon that threatens their lives, they realise that their early assumptions may be unfounded.

This short story is highly recommended for fans of the sci-fi genre, and films such as Prometheus or The Martian.

at dopamine harbor by Nadia

At Dopamine Harbor

they’d branded me a seussian grave-head- –
those fractal tellers did, at the whalemouthed, fumeless exit }
chromium debris”, they’d christened my toes
sized me up and synchro-ruled me:
a necroholic puppet to pave the nihil-march- –
down the Armageddon aisle.

they’ll warble at your doorbell soon, I’m sure- –
reckon you a circus-pile of reject axons
{ tightropes a morbid-measure too loose
for panoramic liking.
“and, if you could, young anomaly- –
bid the psycho-lions out
of their quixomatic dens }
we do honestly want to eviscerate them—”

but don’t be afraid
I’ll meet you—

x – 1 ;

take your dime-sized chimeras and 
jack-in-the-dendrons, I’ll
teach you where to go, where those
manxome eyes’ll fit in those entrails, neat—finally, right- –

;; x – x

I’ll meet you down down down down
at dopamine harbor- -where the hypodermic felons are.
your tongues can play a festooned game and I’ll
watch with feline graphtoid slits- –

maybe therapy’ll blossom then
for the both of us
a nicer kind (- –void of shitty prism-prophecy
 for us = (the spirograph and the mortem fang)

just us. and no one else—

For the polar outliers (you, and me).

Written by Nadia Sim, Assistant Head of TBC Public Relations
(originally featured on her writing blog at

Original Fiction: The Boat by Lim Shen


“I think we’re in deep shit,” gasped Manso, as he struggled to keep the boat steady.

“Thank you Mr. Obvious! Keep hold of the rudder!” Juno, his companion, snapped back, hands straining at the oars to no avail. A huge wave crashed upon them, drenching them in saltwater. The waves were just too big, the current too strong. The two were at the mercy of the sea.

This morning was supposed to be perfect, Manso thought. Before dawn, when the world was still asleep, they had slipped out to sea in their dad’s fishing boat. They had hoped to catch some tuna, although it was not yet the season for it.

Fat chance of that now, he thought dourly. In their excitement, the duo hadn’t noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon and were caught in the path of the storm as they attempted to flee.

Another wave washed over them. The world turned ocean blue for a moment. Spitting seawater, Juno snarled, ”You got any bright ideas now, Mr. Genius?” Wearily, Manso scanned the horizon, then sat up straight.

“I see the lighthouse! We’re close!” Manso exclaimed. He almost stood up to get a better look, but the perilous rocking of the boat gave him pause to reconsider. Juno renewed his efforts at rowing, trying to guide the boat towards the lighthouse. We’re so close, Manso thought desperately. He could see the outline of the lighthouse set against the early morning sun. Somehow, it looked dark and forbidding, shrouded in black. Like a reaper standing in wait.

The sun’s behind it, Manso suddenly realised, we’re in the shadows! The rocks – we can’t see them!

“Sideways Juno! We can’t see the rocks! Move, move!” he heard himself yell. Manso threw the last of his strength against the rubber, desperately hoping that they could make it in time. Juno immediately switched sides and paddled frantically. The lighthouse loomed ominously above them.

They could see the rocks now, glistening as the sunlight reflected upon the surface, sharp and jagged – ready to embrace them. The boat propelled towards one of them, helpless in the sea’s embrace. Manso could see the edge of the rock. It twinkled seemingly in devilish delight. We’re so dead, he thought, we’re so dead, we’re so de-

Suddenly, the boat dropped. They were riding a wave, holding on for dear life – and then  the wave broke. One moment the rock was almost upon them, the tip unerringly zooming towards Manso’s face; then it was gone – disappearing behind them and sinking into the next wave.

The boat drifted into the harbor behind the lighthouse, buoyed forward by the strength of the wave. A ring of piers surrounded the harbor, shielding it from the rage of the sea. Calm descended upon the water. The waves crashed upon the lighthouse behind them, the force causing water to pelt them in a light drizzle.

After a moment, Manso realized he was still gripping the rudder. He tried to let go. Stings of pain shot through him as he released his grip. There were splinters in his palms. Beside him, Juno was storing the oar under his seat, his face grey and haggard.

“You alright, Juno?” Manso whispered, too spent to raise his voice. Even the pain from dipping his hands into the sea did nothing to him.

Juno turned and did not reply. For a long while, silence reigned. Seagulls circled them in the air, their cries deafening in the silence of the harbor. Manso could see Juno’s back heaving from his breathing, his weariness evident even from a distance. A slither of fear crawled into Manso’s heart, what if –

Juno abruptly turned around, causing Manso to yelp.

“Next time…” Juno hissed. “…let’s just take the one with a motor, I don’t wanna paddle ever again.”

Written by Lim Shen

biotic compendium of warts

Biotic Compendium

gestation in the vitreous moor- –
self-charted. i confess
to have helmed the orchestration in ninth-degree
– -and is it so wrong to bare a blister
in the geo-cryptic light of terra-gloria?

ave bioticum. “

mundane power to the fireflies- –
that tower on crucifixion stilts.
one haggard piercing, to two—
maroon foibles in the spilling-forth’s- – and
– -and is there more to us than mercantile fame
than troves of trade-away rhythms and screws, to
mount on { the Idol that looms tartarean: –
– eater of warts in the numinous dark. }

mundane power to me as- –
I plunder, capture
confiscated blemishes at quaking-large.
pilfered from the dire womb that threatens
ceramic expulsion- –set to mannequin heights and doctored values that
blaspheme us. blaspheme us

and I shall, if I shall- –

– -return the warts;
to naked codex
to library of fleshhood.
where the code of Us contrives a havoc to remember.

{ ave bioticum.

Written by Nadia Sim, Assistant Head of TBC Public Relations
(originally featured on her writing blog at

Recommendation: Emperor – The Gods of War by Conn Iggulden

Emperor- The Gods of War
Are you a fan of Ancient Rome? Do you enjoy reading about the astonishing achievements of one of the greatest Roman figures in history? Then here’s a read for you that will grip your attention through sheer literacy.

Emperor: The Gods of War is the fourth novel in the Emperor series written by Conn Iggulden. It tells the story of Julius Caesar as he marches on his beloved country, Rome from Gaul in pursuit of Pompey the Great, who has assumed dictatorial powers and a mandate to destroy whom he calls ‘The Traitor of Rome’. The story continues with his adventures in Egypt and ends with his assassination.

Featuring an epic tale of courage, battlefield tactics, comradeship and more, this book will engross you to no end. You will be able to see how Julius Caesar, the most powerful man in Rome, achieve remarkable success both on the battlefield and in politics, but was betrayed by his closest friend on the Ides of March.

Submitted by Ryan Lim

denim in the milk-lorn dipper

Denim in the Dipper modified

he isn’t sure sometimes.

whether stars are shaven peppers of Orpheus’ lips,
or whether moments are dreams, or if the nylon formula of reverie thrives in reverse-calibration after all—

Because, “you wouldn’t believe it though—the counter-skeptic’s ink spews a mystic tail: even he does not.

“you wouldn’t believe the glimpses
that courted the breakfast I had
a couple of fog-whisked o’clocks ago.

the militant bunnies stooped in maple- –
shed grenades for a pretty waste, lithic pastille-greens;
the toilet’s in the lavender, if you couldn’t
past the Teapot factory, in the cockeyed morn’.

{ but, really– –directions matter one-to-naught in
the paradigm of nimbus Fancy. }

there was more, “and I swear….well maybe- –
buttermilk-drones, and
too-long, naked prongs- -pax robotic;
calcium keys and phosphorific.
egg-shells housing dapper owl-wraiths
that fume and figure less than mythic—

and you wouldn’t believe it though, 

there was even denim in the dipper
textures gurgling at paper temperature
frays bleeding over- -foam-proxies
where I’d padded them –

I remember now I’d
I’d planted them
Alice engrams where the mildewing lonely’s
festered in silence. zero

for company. 

{ ? ……  }

and Morning trundles on
for the boyish specter
with another spread of denim
from the milk-lorn dipper. }

Written by Nadia Sim, Assistant Head of TBC Public Relations
(originally featured on her writing blog at

the mecha-lark definition ;

The Mechalark Definition

In response to the prompt “If you could send a message to the most influential figure of your childhood, guaranteed to be read by them, what would you write?”

impudent. } 
so scathes thy concrete will – –
out a mercury-spout, regulations hum
salacious song to sparrow’s meagre dance.
– – ah and,
you’d like the tune—wagers he, teeth brewing a shot of glee in the knife-night—
the way it wraps itself
around those neural tombs
where you buried all and epsilons and me.

– where is your
{ hiss and tangent ; haemo-vengeance—
where is your sparrow now

{ wretched warlock
I bid to you, hello; I have- –
gin a-cacklin’ in the boiler-room
a quarter-bone away. you’d
want some.” – –claim a heckle, a high and the inverted-fang sculptor.

i’d reversed the spines while you were away
sapped minuses to imitation void.
see? see—!

see the lacunae we groomed along that fallow equator- –
see the machinated looms, the figure-funnels
see the mecha-lark; its harrowed beginnings—

see the fledgeling corridor, the spite-lines- –
that haunt, a slave-movement to
{ bohemian nocturne , psi-concoction:
of Leviathan composer.
see the mecha-lark; its macabre medium—

see my gift for you, prancing memento
see the { needle } in the winery,
the heart in the beat- –
ready the adieu, ready
for the mortal turbine in the blue.
for the ribcage roundabouts that spin, livid
for you. my defamation darling
and see the mecha-lark, its avant-end—

—and blood, soon; shall it reap off you.

A boy’s ode to his ‘faultless’ brother (in conjunction with National Poetry Writing Month).

Written by Nadia Sim, Assistant Head of TBC Public Relations
(originally featured on her writing blog at