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?”
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.”
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.
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
With his Excellency, Jaroslav Olsa Jr. Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines and Micronesia
It was a great pleasure to finally meet Ambassador Olsa who is not only a fine diplomat but a keen exponent of Science Fiction was well. He is an acclaimed translator (the Polish classic Limes Interiér), SF editor (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with ), and founding father of the literary SF journal Ikarie. Over the course of our all-too-short dinner he shared with me some of his many, many interesting stories and anecdotes about the genre scene in Europe and his life-long obsession with unearthing world Science Fiction. In fact I had the privilege of seeing first hand many obscure Filipino, Singaporean and Malaysian Speculative titles from his collection. I will be adding these authors and titles to my SEA list very soon.
Update: The “Trash” anthology is now available from Amazon.
It’s been a busy start to the year so I apologize that I haven’t been able to make any updates. Since January I’ve mentored 5 NUS start-ups, put up one of my own, and moved from a Digital Identity company to one deeply involved in Mobile Forensics.
So far I’ve been able to make 4 submissions (fingers crossed) and several older stories are just now coming out in print. One of my favorites is the publication of the longer version of “Panopticon” which first came out in Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume IX. It will be appearing in Trash (edited by Dean Alfar and Marc de Faoite), one of a trio of Southeast Asian urban anthologies to be launched in London on 11 April by the Malaysian publisher Buku Fixi.
Incidentally, this version includes the Spivak pronouns used to refer to the incorrigible, gender-fluid business expediter/assassin Pai Kia who appears in a couple of my stories (nb -This is one way to force readers to come to terms with the micro-aggressions of their own gender marking preferences).
Here’s a short excerpt:
“Hello again, Mr. Salazar,” Pai Kia greeted cheerily, as I climbed aboard the sleek red aircraft. E was still dressed in Cleopatra Wong’s tight white jump suit. “You clean up very nicely, uncle. I could fancy someone like you.”
I said nothing as our autogiro lifted up towards an indifferent brown sky, past the grid of wires that stretched over the slums like a garrote. The highway in the heavens was teeming with sky jeeps, floating hawker stalls, hover-cyclos, air tuk-tuks and giant advertising dirigibles. The latter’s Holosonic displays bombarded my head with hundreds and thousands of advertisements, factoids and subliminal purchasing suggestions.
I closed my eyes to escape, letting the lights of the airborne traffic blur into hazy constellations. Every few seconds, a small group of vehicles would peel away, puncturing the smoke-choked clouds like dying meteors.
“I don’t get it,” I asked. “If people pay to be here, why does it look like a retro-future dump? It’s like we went back in time, to some old Third World country.”
“Wah Liao, every time the same questions,” Pai Kia said. “Let me tell you all you need to know. Aiyoh, everyone has three possible after-lives. If you’re rich, you stay in the clean, ultra-luxe New Cities. If you’re poor, you just die, end of story. For everyone in-between, if you’re in the know and you’ve got something in the way of credits, you can pay soul-hackers like me to build an afterlife. But hey, as they say — no prawns, fish also can. Do you understand, lah?”
I nodded for some reason, even though eir answer made no sense.
“Of course, your level of comfort, your level of reality, depends on the size of your wallet. Ms. Esperanza has a very big wallet.”
I studied my strange companion, wondering how e really translated behind the HI. Was e even real? I couldn’t tell anymore.”
The Heat, Flesh & Trash set of anthologies will be launched on April 11, 2016 at Daunt Books 61 Cheapside, EC2V 6AX London, United Kingdom
Here are details of the books:
(244 pages, ISBN 9789670954363, RRP £7.99)
Edited by Khairani Barokka & Ng Yi-Sheng
Featuring work by: Gabriela Lee, Zed Adam Idris, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Rewat Panpipat (translated by Marcel Barang), Nikki Alfar, Joseph Ng, O Thiam Chin, Christine V. Lao, Alexander Marcos Osias, Catalina Rembuyan, Hồn Du Mục, Maf Deparis & Ivery del Campo, Diyana Mohamad, Peter Zaragoza Mayshle, Lee Ee Leen, Zedeck Siew, Bonnie Etherington and Julie Koh.
(232 pages, ISBN 9789670954370, RRP £7.99)
Edited by Cassandra Khaw & Angeline Woon
Featuring work by: Teo Yi Han, Sokunthary Svay, Simon Rowe, Terence Toh,Tina Sim, Yeyet Soriano, Bridgette Ann Rebuca, Ari Abraham, Kate Osias, Nin Harris, Justine Anjanique P. Jordan, Shamala Hinrichsen, Damyanti Biswas, Kenneth Yu, Verena Tay, Joelyn Alexandra, EK Gonzales, Eve Shi and Benjanun Sriduangkaew
(228 pages, 9789670954387, RRP £7.99)
Edited by Dean Francis Alfar & Marc de Faoite
Featuring work by: Zedeck Siew, Raymond G. Falgui, Lyana Shah, Dipika Mukherjee, Timothy Marsh, Richard Calayeg Cornelio, Ted Mahsun, Eliza Vitri Handayani, Michael Aaron Gomez, Tilon Sagulu, Alexander Marcos Osias, Nin Harris, Francis Quina, M. SHANmughalingam and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
Posted on January 1, 2016
This year went as well as it could for me, writing-wise, as I didn’t really expect to publish much. Last year’s novel is unfortunately still stuck at chapter 4 (I’ve decided to shelve it for a while). The short film based on “Big Enough for the Entire Universe” is still stuck in post-production, with the release date moved to mid-2016. Lastly, the publication dates of six new short stories were also moved from the end of 2015 to 2016.
Despite all of these setbacks there have been couple of highlights:
- My poem “Objets trouvés de Singapour” appeared in Vol. 14 No. 2 of the Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore last April 2015. This was a post-internet experimental poem where the text was mined from Singapore government slogans and local commercial advertising from the last 50 years. It’s also my first published poem.
- “An Excerpt from the Philippine Journal of Archaeology (04 October, 1916)” (which first appeared in Likhaan Journal 8 by the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing in December 2014) is now being used as recommended reading material by the University of the Philippine’s Literature program.
- “Blessed are the Hungry” (a Filipino space opera which first appeared in Apex Magazine issue 62, July 2014), was translated into Mandarin Chinese by Hu Shao Yan and was published in the March 2015 volume of Science Fiction World. I have been told that this magazine has close to a million readers, so this story is now probably my most read story ever.
- “I m d 1 in 10” (my experimental story inspired by Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae which first appeared in the July 2014 issue of The Future Fire) was anthologized in the Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two by Epigram Books. Plus, I got to talk about my work at a panel in this year’s Singapore Writer’s Festival.
Best of all, my first children’s book, the Romeo Forbes Award-winning “Here be Dragons” was finally released in 24 August, 2015. Thank you to Gigo and Canvas, Jon, Rhandee, Danny and everyone who was involved in it’s almost 3-year long production.
As usual there was not enough time to do all my writing projects. As a result, I have more work-in-progress stuff right now that I have ever had before — including three short stories, two flash pieces, a Line novelette, a Filipino translation and my second children’s book.
I mentioned earlier that the publication dates of six new short stories were delayed to this year. This means that I already have a substantial line-up coming for 2016 without having to do much.
Happy New Year to all my readers and thank you for all your support!