Hong Kong Swordfighting Sagas of my Childhood
by Christina Sng
I’ve often been asked why I write horror. This goes back to the advice I’m often given, write what you know. My answer is simply that it’s familiar and comforting, and it is the genre I grew up with.
Growing up with a much-older brother who loved horror, I was quickly introduced to The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist before I was 10. If the TV was on at home or my grandmother’s house, it was tuned to Hong Kong swordfighting sagas which almost always had a sprinkling of the supernatural. They were a staple favorite of my family. The 1980s was the perfect era for horror fare.
This carried on right through my 20s. I remember we used to rent countless Hong Kong swordfighting series, spanning 30-100 episodes on some 10-30 video tapes from the video rental shop and spend evenings and weekends watching them with my Dad and Grandma who loved them.
There were ghosts, vampires, magic, and sorcery in many of these stories. The channeling of one’s inner force into martial arts mastery and accelerated healing, the ability to fly, and the physical transference of one’s skills to another were feats of awe I marveled at in the heroes and villains. The 1983 version of Legend of the Condor Heroes starring Felix Wong and the late Barbara Yung is my favorite. Many consider it the best version filmed.
The horror of swordfighting sagas is often that man is the true monster, a tenet I find myself subscribing to more the older I get. Common themes include vengeance for a family wiped out, brother betraying brother, women treated like property, the enemy is your best friend, a cruel emperor who needs to be overthrown, princes killing princes for the throne, princes killing the commoner woman they love for the throne, martial artists competing against each other to be number one in the world. It rarely ends well, the endings bittersweet. Often the good guy with integrity dies. Sometimes he lives but is forever scarred.
Rarely are there stories of a giant monster trampling the cities where our heroes kill it and triumph. It is always about the horrors of human nature and how we live with it, endure it, or destroy it. Kind of like real life.
About Christina Sng
Christina Sng is an award-winning poet, writer, and artist. Her work has been published in numerous print and online venues worldwide and translated into six languages. She is the author of A Constellation of Songs (Origami Poems Project), Catku (Allegra Press), 2017 Elgin Award nominee An Assortment of Sky Things (Allegra Press), 2018 Elgin Award runner-up Astropoetry (Alban Lake Publishing), and 2017 Bram Stoker Award® winner A Collection of Nightmares (Raw Dog Screaming Press).
Since 2001, her science fiction, horror, and fantasy poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous venues across North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore. These include Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Aoife’s Kiss, Apex Magazine, Astronomers Without Borders, Bare Bone, Beyond Centauri, Black Petals, Blood Rose, Bloodbond, ChiZine, Dark Animus, Disturbed Digest, Dreams and Nightmares, Electric Velocipede, Eye to the Telescope, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Flesh & Blood, Grievous Angel, Hadrosaur Tales, Illumen, The Journal, Jupiter Magazine, LONTAR, Lunatic Chameleon, The Martian Wave, Mythic Delirium, NewMyths.com, Night to Dawn, Outposts of Beyond, The Pedestal Magazine, Penny Dreadful, Penumbric, Poe Little Thing, Polu Texni, Scifaikuest, Space & Time, Spaceports & Spidersilk, Spectral Realms, Star*Line, Story House, Tales of the Talisman, Trunk Stories, Wicked Hollow, and Yellow Bat Review.
In 2002, 2003, and 2004, her poems “The Marvel of Flight” and “Crimes of Our Youth” (Wicked Hollow #1 and #4), “The Bone Carver” (ChiZine), “The Art of Weaving” (Flesh & Blood #14), and “Asunder” with Mike Allen (Star*Line), received Honourable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Annual Editions, respectively. In 2007 and 2014, her poems “Medusa in LA” and “Allegra” (Tales of the Talisman Vol. 1 Issue 1 and Vol. 10 Issue 3) were nominated for the Rhysling Award in the short and long poem categories. In 2016, her poems “Twenty Years” (New Myths 32) and “The Woman in the Coffee Shop” (LONTAR #5) were nominated in the long poem category and her scifaiku, “The Man with Red Eyes” was nominated for the Dwarf Stars Award. Her long poem “The Leviathans of Europa” (Polu Texni) was nominated for the 2017 Rhysling Awards. 2018 Rhysling nominees include short poem “Starlight” (Space & Time), and two long poems, “Moonlight in the Playground” (Spectral Realms) and “Little Red” (Polu Texni). 4 short poems were nominated for the 2018 Dwarf Stars Awards: “Bloody Spindle”, “Ruby Sky”, “Seconds Before”, and “Multiverse Theory”. Her haiku sequence “Little Red in Haiku”, which first appeared in Star*Line 40.4 in 2017, received an Honourable Mention in the Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten.
She is a Lifetime member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.
From late 2015, Christina began to study haiku, finding it immensely beautiful and therapeutic. Now she writes daily to document her thoughts and days. Her haiku, senryu, haiga, and tanka have since received numerous honours and accolades, including most recently, winning the 2018 Jane Reichhold International Prize and the Third Annual Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Competition. Her work has appeared all around the world in journals such as A Hundred Gourds, Akisame, Akitsu Quarterly, Asahi Haikuist, bear creek haiku, cattails, Cricket, Failed Haiku, Frameless Sky, Frogpond, Haikuniverse, Haiku Masters, hedgerow, Mayfly, otata, Prune Juice, Ribbons, Shamrock, The Bamboo Hut, The Cicada’s Cry, and Wild Plum, among others.
As an artist, she paints in oil, watercolour, and ink. In 2017, she began to market her art to magazines. Her oil painting “The Last Day” appeared on the cover of Gnarled Oak in January 2018 and her black and white watercolour painting “Waiting Together” was the cover art for Dreams and Nightmares #109, which is incidentally, the same magazine that gave her her first two poetry sales back in 2000.
Christina is also an avid gardener and an accomplished musician, and can be found most days in a dark corner deadheading her flowers while humming Vivaldi to the swaying branches.