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.
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)
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