“Infinite Degrees of Freedom” now in Science Fiction World

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My YA story about shape-changing robots modeled after the Sigben (Sigbin) of Philippine myth has been translated into Chinese. The original appeared in the book Science Fiction: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults (2016, eds.  Dean Francis Alfar & Kenneth Yu) from the University of the Philippines Press.

The translation appeared last month in China’s Science Fiction World. With a circulation of +300,000 and 3 to 5 readers per copy, Wikipedia estimates that SF World has a total readership of about one million people — making it the world’s most popular Science Fiction periodical.

“Infinite Degrees of Freedom” is my second story in this venue, after 2015’s “Blessed Are The Hungry” (which originally appeared in Apex 62).

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Sadly, the artist for my story did not use the Sigben visual references I provided. The monster illustrated above looks more like a mutant snubbull from Pokemon Go.

Panopticon Review by Star Malaysia

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Joel Wijesuria of Star Malaysia recently reviewed the Buku Fixi Anthology Trash . he had a lot of kind words for my story “Panopticon”:

Panopticon, a sci-fi tale of rebirth and punishment by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo weaves an intricate narrative of a man who dies, only to find himself born again, disposed of by a vengeful ex-love, and doomed to repeat over and over. Ocampo’s world is vivid and technicoloured and terrifying. A brilliant read.”

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Trash (2016), Eds Dean Francis Alfar & Marc de Faoite; Kuala Lumpur, Fixi Novo

Review of Lontar Volume 6

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Eric Norris, an American author from Portlandia, recently reviewed Lontar Issue 6  for Singapore Poetry. He had these kind words to say about my story “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” :

“Picking a favorite here is impossible for me. But the last story in the collection, “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” by Filipino author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, sticks in my mind. It is the most hard-science science fiction story in the collection, taking place, as it does, on the fringes of a black hole; and involving, as it does: time travel, tachyon particles, neural computer interfaces, hyperspace, rickety spaceships, and the whole range of fan-servicing verbal engineering one expects and enjoys. More than anything, “Brother to Space, Sister to Time,” tells the story of three Filipino siblings under stress, with an interstellar backdrop. In the exploration of alternative realities, Ocampo never loses touch with the idea of family and roots, literary and national:

The thumping sound in the HVAC vents had become unbearable. All over the Quijano De Manila, every metal object vibrated as if it were singing the most dissonant of songs.

“Idiots!” younger sister yelled, as her levels of cortisol and norepinephrine overwhelmed her digital dream-catcher. “Why do I have brothers and not sisters? Boys are never on the ball. We’re at the wormhole already and you’re still arguing about what to do! There is a fucking library we need to go to, an infinite library at the heart of a pocket universe.”

“Bullshit!” elder brother screamed. “There’s nothing there! We’ll just die! Are you all deaf? Don’t you hear the singing? It’s a dirge, a death-korido.”

The thumping sound in the vents was keeping time to a strange melody streaming in from outside the ship. Each note seemed to escalate the tension between us, plucking the strings of every hurt and all the secret resentments we had locked away in our hearts.

“Stop this! Stop this!” I cried. “We’re a family!”

“An infinite library at the heart of a pocket universe”. I would be hard pressed to find a finer or more succinct metaphor to describe Lontar. Or for what it means to be human, I think.

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Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asia Speculative Fiction, Issue #6, is edited by Jason Erik Lundberg, Kristine Ong Muslim, and Adan Jimenez (Singapore: Epigram Books, 2016)

“Here be Dragons” at Woods in the Books

Woods in the Books is a beautiful little children’s bookshop in Tiong Bahru. It’s on Yong Siak Street, on the same row as Strangelets and BooksActually.  They are currently one of the few places where you can still get copies of my book “Here be Dragons” so please check them out.

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Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 10 is now Available as an Ebook

The landmark 10th volume of the venerable Philippine Speculative Fiction series was launched last 7 May  in Manila. Unfortunately I missed this due to life and work commitments.

Congratulations to Dean, Nikki and everyone that made it happen!

PSF 10 contains my alternate history piece “Mene, Thecel, Phares” which is essentially a re-imagining of the Jose Rizal mythos in the vein of Philip K Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle”. This is one of my favorite works. If you get a chance to read my story I would love to ask you readers two very important questions:  “If Nations are indeed imagined communities, who does the imagining?” and “What really makes people live and die for their country, unique personal circumstances or some greater force? If so was it really their choice to go down the path they did?”

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Here’s a short excerpt:

“That sounds… interesting, if a bit to fantastical for my taste. I am curious as to why you wrote them as Scientific Romances,” the old man asked. “Surely your message would have been more effective as proper, realist fiction?”

“Scientific Romances are as marginalized as my people.” Joseph answered. “Realism is neurotically obsessed with itself. It offers no norms, nothing to reach for. I wanted to get in touch with the masses, the common people who dream about better futures.  Scientific Romances are all about possibility, roads that move forward, not those that loop around in navel-gazing eternities.”

“Yet all fiction is permutation. There is always change.”

“Right now all I want is for us to be treated as equals and have proper representation in the Cortes. The masses want revolution and blood. I need a third novel to correct this notion. Violence is never the answer.”

“There is a time and place for everything, even fighting,” the professor insisted. “Your people are already taking your words and shaping their future with their own hands. Why would you change that?”

“What does it matter? I am a dead man, regardless. My two little books have caused great controversy and my life now imitates my art.  I am sure to end up like Rizal and face a firing squad. Although, if Benomar’s Hermandad ever found me out, they wouldn’t waste a bullet on an Indio — they would simply break my neck.”

“So stay here,” the professor urged. “Write your other novel. Stay here and at least stay alive. Anyway, the ones who write eventually control the world.”

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Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 10 is now available on Flipside Books, Weightless Books, Amazon, ITunes, Google Play and Kobo.

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Lontar No. 6 now Available on Print and ebook

Lontar No. 6 (Founding Editor Jason Erik Lundberg; Poetry Editor Kristine Ong Muslim and Comics Editor Adan Jimenez; published by Epigram) became available in print (from Kinokuniya and directly from Epigram Books) from last 27 April, while the DRM-free ebook is available from Weightless Books.

It features works from Ken Liu,  Eka Kurniawan, J Y Yang, Jennifer Anne Champion, Ng Yi-Sheng, comics from Budjette Tan, Alex Arellano & Kajo Baldisimo, as well as some amazing speculative poetry from  Jonel Abellanosa, Ang Si Min, Russ Hoe, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Christina Sng, Sokunthary Svay, Krishna Udayasankar, Brendan Walsh and Marco Yan.

Also part of this volume is my Filipino space-opera/family drama “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” which inspired the cover illustration by Sarah and Schooling.

Check out my Pinterest board for this story.

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Lontar is the only publication that specializes in Speculative Fiction from and about Southeast Asia. It has published work from some of the finest writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Poetry. Please consider a subscription (from Weightless, link above) or supporting them on Patreon.

A relatively new publication, LONTAR nonetheless publishes high-quality works by award-winning authors. Diverse and under-represented characters and settings are a mainstay of LONTAR‘s fiction, opening the genre to fresh themes and voices, and introducing readers to the rich culture and atmosphere of Southeast Asia.” —Tangent Online