Jason Erik Lundberg
Jason Erik Lundberg was born in New York, grew up in North Carolina, and has lived in Singapore since 2007. He is the author and anthologist of over twenty books, including Red Dot Irreal (2011), The Alchemy of Happiness (2012), Fish Eats Lion (2012), Strange Mammals (2013), Embracing the Strange (2013), the six-book Bo Bo and Cha Cha children’s picture book series (2012–2015), Carol the Coral (2016), and the biennial Best New Singaporean Short Stories anthology series (2013–2017). He is also the fiction editor at Epigram Books (where the books he’s edited have been shortlisted for and won the Singapore Literature Prize and Singapore Book Awards, and made multiple bestseller lists and year’s best lists since 2012), as well as the founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction (est. 2012), and a recipient of the Creation Grant from Singapore’s National Arts Council. His writing has been anthologised widely, shortlisted for multiple awards, and honourably mentioned twice in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.
From Hero Worship, or How I Met the Dream King
Red Dot Irreal, 2011
It was completely quiet. The noises of the thousand-plus people milling around the area had been utterly silenced. I wondered if I had gone deaf. But then I looked around. Each person was frozen in place, caught in amber, as it were. The Dream King had stopped time.
He opened his eyes and looked down the queue, then turned back to me. “Wonderful,” he said, smiling brightly. “I had no idea if that would work.”
“How have you done this?”
“An old man in a shack in Guangzhou taught me how, in exchange for a copy of The Sandman #74. It was the last issue he needed to complete his collection. Funny, he didn’t even want it signed.”
“I want to apologise for not being able to take more time with you. Grateful as I am for this career and this wonderful life of mine, it does mean I’m stretched quite thin. However, we do have a few minutes to ourselves now.”
“Can you show me The Secret Handshake?” I asked, half in jest.
He smiled and said, “Of course. You won’t remember it by tomorrow anyway, but still.”
And so he showed me The Secret Handshake, and How to Talk to Cats, and Which Sushi Increases the Flow of Qi, and Which Shade of Black is Repellent to the Elder Gods. In more ways than one, it was magical. One of my literary heroes was sharing his hidden knowledge, despite his exhaustion and his commitments. And he was right, I remembered none of it the following day except for the fact that he had shown these Mysteries to me.
Finally, he said, “Think it’s time we returned to the real world?” and then he let go of my hand. Sounds and motion rushed in as time resumed, and I had to grip the table as the accompanying dizziness unsettled me. I took a breath and looked up. The Dream King glowed, and I smiled.
“Thanks so much, Neil.”