The story revolves around a precocious young woman who worships Balatik, the ancient Filipino deity of hunting, journeys and slash-and-burn agriculture. Her father teaches her how to read their ancient language and she uses this knowledge to unlock secrets hidden inside a family Anito (Household God) that once belonged to the first Lakan of Tundon.
Incidentally, the constellation of Balatik is now more popularly known as the “Tres Marias” (The Three Marias) in Tagalog, “Magbangal” in Bukidnon, and “Seretar” in Teduray, the constellation of Balatik is composed of the three almost evenly spaced stars which act as the “belt” of the constellation of Orion the Hunter. It appears in the night sky between the months of October to May. Once directly overhead, it marks the start of the swiddens, the burning season for many Filipino tribes.
My L33t Speak/JEJEMON story “I M D 1 IN 10” was in the 2016 volume of Best New Singapore Stories (Jason Erik Lundberg, editor).
This year, my Pinoy space-opera story from Lontar Volume 6 made it to the honourable mention list of the Best New Singapore Stories Volume 3 (Cyril Wong, Guest Editor). I was a bit surprised (but grateful!) to see this, because it is the most Hard Science Fiction work I had ever attempted. Congratulations to all that were selected or shortlisted!
“Brother to Space, Sister to Time” is lovingly dedicated to my brother Hector Francisco V. Ocampo and my sister Noreen Maria-Regina Ocampo Oconer. Strangely enough, despite the genre trappings, this is also the most personal story I have ever written. There is so much for a reader to discover between the lines.
The Singapore Writers Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and I am happy to be part of an event that includes such literary and genre heavy weights such as Gemino Abad, Dean Alfar, Simon Armitage, Aliette de Bodard, Shelly Bryant, Junot Diaz, Ken Liu, Marjorie Liu, Isa Kamari, Jason Erik Lundberg, Ng Yi-Sheng, Tony Parsons, Edwin Thumboo , Cyril Wong and JY Yang to name just a few.
The festival’s theme this year is the Tamil word அரம் (Aram) whose meaning embodies goodness, equity and justice. Used extensively in older Tamil literature, it is a word has rich connotation and an ideal of goodness and generosity for humanity to aspire to. It is today a quality much needed in our increasingly complex and difficult world.
Some of the best Science Fiction stories also share this normative, Utopian vision and I hope to be able to talk about it in my panels. You can find my SWF schedule here:
I am very happy to announce that Math Paper Press in Singapore is publishing my first collection of short stories. There will be 17 altogether plus a foreword by Lontar Journal founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg. The cover art is by Eisner-award winning artist Sonny Liew.
The Infinite Library and Other Stories will be launched at the Singapore Writer’s Festival this 7 November (Tuesday) 8.30 pm – 9.30 pm at the Gallery II, The Arts House. This will be a Festival Pass event.
“Victor’s keen observational eye represents the clarity of the outsider—the Filipino writing about Singapore, and about the Philippines while apart from it, and about the world and the universe as an emissary of humanity—and you can almost see his verbal abilities stretching with the languidness of a well-fed housecat. Whether through the Ellisonian stylistic gymnastics of “Dyschronometria, or the Bells are Always Screaming”, or the hallucinogenic Phildickian leetspeak of “I m d 1 in 10”, or the faux-academic jargon of “An Excerpt from the Philippine Journal of Archaeology, 4 October 1916”, he pushes the limits of form and trope, all in the service of telling us about ourselves, like a shaman guiding you through a fever dream.
Let his stories, both experimental and conventional, illuminate your way through the darkness, as only someone with a foot in two worlds can do.” – from the foreword by Jason Erik Lundberg,
Singapore-based Speculative Fiction author and Lontar Journal founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg moderated a lively panel on Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction at yesterday’s #Worldcon75, with Nebula award- winning author Aliette de Bodard and myself. Like my other panel, this one was quite well attended and we were very happy to see that so many people were interested in Southeast Asian speculative fiction.
Aliette and I did a reading from one of our works and we spent the rest of the time taking questions and recommending many fine SEA authors from the region such as Dean Alfar (Philippines), Zen Cho (Malaysia) and JY Yang (Singapore).
P.S. – I provided a quick sneak peak of my first short story collection “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” during this panel 🙂
Here are some pictures from my Mythology panel at the World Science Fiction Convention in Finland where I got to talk about ancient Filipino deities, sweet potato farming rituals and manananggals with authors and experts like Irish novelist Peadar Ó Guilín; poet, author and Classicist Jenny Blackford, Fantasy novelist Alexandra Rowland; and Elli Leppä from the University of Helsinki.
Front row (L to R): Jenny Blackford, Peadar Ó Guilín (moderator), Alexandra Rowland. Back row me and Elli Leppä.
The panel was more popular than I expected. They actually had to turn people away.
All-in-all it was great fun and I was happy to raise the flag for Philippine and Southeast Asian mythologies.