About Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is a Singapore-based Filipino writer. He is the author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) and Here be Dragons (Canvas Press, 2015), which won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012. His writing has appeared in many publications including Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Likhaan Journal, Strange Horizons, Philippine Graphic, Science Fiction World and The Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore, as well as anthologies like The Best New Singapore Short Stories, Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction, Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series. Visit his blog at vrocampo.com or follow him on Twitter @VictorOcampo

Embracing the Weird* : Writing Speculative Fiction

ICYMI: This Thursday,  17 December 2020, I  have an online speculative fiction workshop for budding writers aged 13 to 16. If your kids are looking for something different this holiday season. Space is very limited. Please check it out. Details here.

Embracing the weird in your writing means taking risks and breaking rules. It means being completely honest and not being afraid of judgement. It means having fun, trying experimental techniques and looking at things from strange angles. In this online course, we’ll explore how approaching writing in unusual ways can unlock your creativity. We’ll do some reading, lots of writing and break some writing rules while we’re at it.

This workshop, organized by the Singapore Book Council, is suitable for 13 to 16 year old kids who would like to understand speculative fiction and try their hand at writing hand at writing a piece that defies all rules.

This programme will be conducted via the Zoom platform. Participants do not need a Zoom account to take part in the workshop.

Kinokuniya members can enjoy 10% off the workshop fee for this programme. Please contact programmes@bookcouncil.sg for the discount code before online registration.


* Apologies to the wonderful and always benevolent Jason Erik Lundberg for almost, somewhat, but not actually meaning to nick the title of his famous work.

Future Currents: Philippines and Singapore

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who watched us last night! If you missed our panel you can still catch it on YouTube here.

This coming Sunday, the 29th of November, 2020, please join Eliza Victoria, Isabel Yap, Vida Cruz and I as we talk about Speculative Fiction from the Philippines and Singapore (okay, it’s essentially mostly me for the latter) at Future Currents: Philippines and Singapore.

4am: California/Pacific Standard Time (PST) | 6am: Mexico City | 9am: Brasilia | 1pm: Rome | 4pm: Dubai | 8pm: Singapore/Manila | 11 pm: Sydney (AEDT)

Language: English

Panelists:

Eliza Victoria (Philippines) – Eliza Victoria is the author of several books including the Philippine National Book Award-winning Dwellers (2014), the novel Wounded Little Gods (2016), the graphic novel After Lambana (2016, a collaboration with Mervin Malonzo), and the science fiction novel-in-stories, Nightfall (2018). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications, most recently in LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, The Best Asian Speculative Fiction, The Apex Book of World SF Volume 5, and Future SF Digest. Her work has won prizes in the Philippines’ top literary awards, including the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Her one-act plays (written in Filipino) have been staged at the Virgin LabFest at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Isabel Yap (Philippines) – Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California and London. She holds a BS in Marketing from Santa Clara University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop, and since 2016 has served as Secretary for the Clarion Foundation. Her work has appeared in venues including Tor.com, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Herdebut short story collection will be published by Small Beer Press in 2021. She is@visyap on Twitter and her website ishttps://isabelyap.com.

Vida Cruz (Philippines) – Vida Cruz’s fiction has been published or is forthcoming from Strange Horizons, PodCastle, Expanded Horizons, and various anthologies, as well as been longlisted for the British Science Fiction Award. A Clarion graduate and a Tiptree/Otherwise Fellow, she is also a book editor with The Darling Axe.

She lives in Manila with her family and 10 memeable dogs.

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore/Philippines) – Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is the author of the International Rubery Book Award shortlisted The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) and Here be Dragons (Canvas Press, 2015), which won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012. His play-by-email interactive fiction piece “The Book of Red Shadows” debuted at the Singapore Writers Festival in 2020.

His writing has appeared in many publications including Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Likhaan Journal, Strange Horizons, Philippines Graphic, Science Fiction World and The Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore, as well as anthologies like The Best New Singapore Short Stories, Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction, LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series.

He is a fellow at the Milford Science Fiction Writers’ Conference (UK) and a Jalan Besar writer-in-residence at Sing Lit Station (2020/2021).

Visit his blog at vrocampo.com or follow him on Twitter @VictorOcampo

The 2020/2021 Jalan Besar Writing Residency at Sing Lit Station

Because of the writing and production of The Book of Red Shadows for the Singapore Writers Festival, it’s only now that I’ve gotten around to the other big news for this last quarter of 2020.

I am quite pleased to announce that multi-disciplinary artist nor; poet, fictionist and critic Sam Toh and I have been selected as the three writers-in-residence for the Jalan Besar Writing Residency at Sing Lit Station for the October 2020/March 2021.

I am the third person of Filipino descent to be part of this program, after fictionist and editor Noelle Q. de Jesus and award-winning poet Lawrence Lacambra Ypil.

The Book of Red Shadows Debuts at the 2020 Singapore Writers Festival

Thank you to everyone who remembered my birthday this week! To say that 2020 has been very difficult (for everyone in the entire world) is certainly an understatement. I am just thankful to be alive and somehow still be able to provide for my family (however diminished this capacity may be). I am also thankful for some small wins on the writing front, such as the launch of my first CYOA interactive narrative.

I am happy to announce that The Book of Red Shadows, my play-by-email story, successfully debuted at this year’s all-digital Singapore Writers Festival from 30 October to 8 November. Thank you so much to the MCCY, the National Arts council and, of course, the SWF team for making this happen. Special thanks also to our producer Sara Y. and the crew of Spaceship Thirteen for putting this project together, as well as to our tireless Game Masters, Wayne Ree, Eugene Lim, Nicholas Chan; our Game Manager, Weiqi Chuah; and Adela Lee, who handled our marketing and promotions.

Lastly, thank you also to the two hundred eighty brave souls from around Singapore and overseas who willingly signed up to be our experimental tests subjects. Your eagerness to have your moral compass sorely tested resulted in our game slots being filled very quickly. Sadly, we had to turn quite a number of people away.

After ten days of playing, about 26% or roughly 72 of you players managed to make it to the end of the story (without your character meeting a horrible or otherwise gruesome end). Congratulations! I hope you enjoyed the experience.

For those who did not get to play, this story was a serialized narrative in ten parts, with an option to follow one of two threads at the end of every chapter. Within a certain narrative limit, reader/players and game masters were able to add elements to personalize their journey, creating a unique story path that couldn’t be played again in the same way. The sole objective of The Book of Red Shadows was to avoid making plot choices that would end the narrative prematurely, as well as to somehow be get to the writer’s original ending (my story ending) despite obstacles and the different ways to get there.

Here’s the synopsis:

Set in 2220, at Singapore’s colony in Mars, where the consciousness of the newly dead are pressed into National Service by the secretive Project Red Shadows. In exchange for a chance to be restored to life, they must help a massive AI alter events in the past for the benefit of Singapore’s colony in Mars. However, things are not what they seem. There are dire consequences whenever they interfere with fate. Moreover, there is a secession movement planning a rebellion against the government from Earth. A digital ghost is haunting the project, and a vicious time hacker is also trying to erase NS operatives from existence for good. The Book of Red Shadows is a dark odyssey about the true nature of time, the consequences of weaponizing artificial intelligence, and the search for hope and meaning in an increasingly bleak world.

An Interactive Story with game-like elements played over email.

The Book of Red Shadows had many media mentions during and after SWF 2020. Here’s a small selection –

It was the most mesmerizing experience I ever had. Every scenario presented was penned in detail as the story launched into more complications than you would ever expect. The choices were open-ended, giving you more control over the path you would like to take. I felt a sense of loss when the 10 days ended, wishing that it would have been longer.” 
IREVIEWUREAD

It’s pretty absorbing. The text sent each day is also, well, uniquely Singaporean and not without a dash of parody. If you like classic CYOA adventures, I strongly encourage you to give this dark saga a try.” 
THE SCRIBBLING GEEK

“(This is) A chance to enter the strange universe of speculative fiction author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo in Play This Story: The Book Of Red Shadows.
THE STRAITS TIMES

Specifically for SWF2020, voices in the SingLit community produced 20 innovative commissions in digital literary works. Begin with Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows.
ESQUIRE

This year’s offerings include unusual formats such as Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows.” 
BAKCHORMEEBOY

Fun activities include a psychological horror game that takes place entirely over email (Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows).”
SG MAGAZINE

Thrill-seekers will enjoy Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows, an interactive, psychological horror game based on a fictional universe by the speculative fiction author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo.
THE A LIST

Crafted by Singapore-based author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, the intrigue begins with you freshly deceased – yet kept ‘alive’ by mysterious government technology.
CITY NOMADS

The speculative fiction of Victor Fernando R Ocampo is recast as a choose-your-own-adventure experience taking place entirely over email.
THE BUSINESS TIMES

Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows (is an) offline interactive (game) that would be sure to keep one on their toes.” 
THE PEAK

Innovative digital events include Play this Story: The Book of Red Shadows, an interactive psychological horror game based on the speculative fiction of Victor Fernando R Ocampo that unfolds over email.” 
SILVERKRIS

SWF also features voices from the community in the form of 20 innovative commissions in digital literary formats. This includes interactive psychological horror game Play This Story: The Book Of Red Shadows, which takes place over email.” 
THE STAR

This year’s innovative offerings include unexpected offline formats as seen in Play This Story: The Book of Red Shadows.”
NAC

My Panels at FIYAHCON’s Fringe Programming

FIYAHCON is a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. Hosted by FIYAH Literary Magazine. The inaugural event will take place on October 17-18, 2020 and will host a variety of entertaining and educational content surrounding the business, craft, and community of speculative literature.

Where the magazine is focused specifically on the elevation of Black voices in short speculative fiction, FIYAHCON seeks to center the perspectives and experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Thank you to FIYACON, Vida Cruz and Iora Kusano for inviting me to be both a panelist and a moderator. Join us! All the Fringe events are free! You can find my schedule below:

Running A Genre Magazine – Friday 10/16 10:00pm EDT (which will be Saturday 10am in Singapore) with Eliana González Ugarte • Terrie Hashimoto • Salik Shah • Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Moderator)

To many writers, the inner workings of magazines are utterly opaque. Our panel of editors can give you insight into what things look like on their side of the desk: financial legal considerations, unexpected challenges, how to best promote authors’ work. This panel is great for any author who wants to see how a magazine is made, especially if they’re considering starting a magazine of their own!

Should I Italicize That? – Friday 10/16 02:00am EDT (which will be Saturday 02:00pm in Singapore) with Shiv Ramdas • Zen Cho • Victor Fernando R. Ocampo • Yukimi Ogawa • Iori Kusano (Moderator)

It’s the eternal struggle: why do we italicize takoyaki but not taco? What counts as a loanword? Do italics highlight distinctive aspects of cultures settings, or do they exoticize it? Should we italicize anything at all? Panelists will share how they approach this problem within their own work, including how to discuss it with editors agents.

Futurecon 2020 – My 1st Virtual Conference

FutureCon is a global Speculative Fiction conference organized primarily by folks from Brazil – Ana Rüsche, Cristina Jurado (Spain/UAE), Fábio Fernandes, Francesco Verso (Italy), Jana Bianchi, and Renan Bernardo, with help from other people from all around the world.

This year it was held from 17 to 20 September, 2020. Speakers from over 20 different countries participated, including Ann Vandermeer, Aliette de Bodard, Chen Qiufan, Ian McDonald, Lavie Tidhar and Nisi Shawl, as well as other guests from Argentina, Croatia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and Uganda, just to name a few.

Because of the Covod-19 pandemic, this year’s conference was completely virtual. It was the very first time I ever participated in a writing event that was recorded via Zoom and broadcast on YouTube (free to view by the general public).

I had the privilege of moderating the first panel of the conference: “Future South & East Asia: What Future is Taking Shape in India, Pakistan, Philippines?” which happened last Thursday 17 September at 8pm in Beijing, Manila and Singapore (Moscow: 3pm | Rome: 2pm | Lagos: 1pm | Brasilia: 9am | New York: 8am | Los Angeles: 5am. My panelists were a virtual whos-who of amazing writers from South Asia which included:

(Moderator) Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore/Philippines)

Anil Menon (India)

Indrapramit Das (India)

Lavanya Lakshminarayan (India)

Usman Malik (Pakistan)

Note: Special thank you to S.B. Divya for allowing us to use the questions she had originally developed for this panel.

You can watch our panel in it’s entirety on YouTube (you will need to clink through to the link that goes to YouTube as the moderators have disabled it from playing outside their site).

By the way, I will be participating in a follow-up Futurecon event this coming November, so watch this space.

Singapore ArtScience Museum’s Take 5

Thank you to Singapore’s ArtsScience Museum for featuring me in their Take 5 video series. I talked about how Speculative Fiction in general and Science Fiction, in particular, helps readers build resilience during tough times.

Thank you also to  Patricia, Isabella and Sophia for shooting, directing and editing the initial footage. You are the best video crew a guy could have!

Please like the video on Youtube as well!

VRO Take 5

Another Late Post: TILAOS review at Singlitstation

Thank you to #Singlitstation and #AJLow (the enigmatic duo behind the famous Sherlock Sam series) for their awesome write-up of my short story collection The Infinite Library And Other Stories. You can check out the original Instagram post here.

AJ LOW TILAOS Review

You can get your own copy of The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) at #BooksActually‘s online store. They ship internationally! Check them out here.

RIP, Daniel Palma Tayona

Very sad to learn that Daniel Palma Tayona has passed away. He was a wonderful book artist, graphic designer, storyteller-illustrator (with several exhibits under his belt). As creative director of CANVAS press, Dan designed and illustrated children’s books for over 22 years. Notable among the books he designed was “Doll Eyes” (by Eline Santos, illustrated by Joy Mallari), which won The National Children’s Book Award in 2012.

That same year “Here Be Dragons” won the Romeo Forbes award and Dan was responsible for the very beautiful layout, “remixing” my English text, Rhandee Garlitos‘ Filipino translation, and Jon Jaylo‘s paintings.

My wife and I would like to offer his family and friends our deepest condolences. Rest in peace, my friend.

Dan HBD

Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds

A Google alert yesterday informed me that The Infinite Library and Other Stories was one of ten featured books in Olivia Ho’s Straits Times article “Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds“.

Unable to leave home due to circuit breaker measures or even set foot outside your room due to a home quarantine order? Escape your physical confines through the “uniquely portable magic” of books, as author Stephen King puts it. Here are 10 works of fiction that contain worlds within worlds for you to wander.

  1.  “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (1950) by C.S. Lewis
  2.  “Neverwhere” (1996) by Neil Gaiman
  3.  “Sophia and the Utopia Machine” (2018) by Judith Huang
  4.  “His Dark Materials” (1995 to 2000) by Philip Pullman
  5.  “Howl’s Moving Castle” (1986) by Diana Wynne Jones
  6.  “The Star-Touched Queen” (2016) by Roshani Chokshi
  7. “The Night Circus” (2011) by Erin Morgenstern
  8.  “The Eyre Affair” (2001) by Jasper Fforde
  9.  “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” (2017, Math Paper Press) by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  10.  “Neverending Story (1979, translated 1983) by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim)

Happy to be in such distinguished company. Thank you for including my book!

Math Paper Press recently ran a second printing and you can now get a copy again at Kinokuniya, localbooks.sg and BooksActually.

Between 11 to 13 May, 2020 there will be a sale of all Math Paper Press Titles at BooksActuallyshop.com.  Use the code MPP40 when you shop at the online store to get a 40% discount. They deliver internationally.

ST-books-13May2020 paper

n.b. Thank you also to Jason Erik Lundberg for the PDF scan above.


THE INFINITE LIBRARY AND OTHER STORIES (2017, Math Paper Press)
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

cropped-infinite-library_cover-final-2017-09-12.jpg

This fantastical collection of 17 stories alludes to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’s idea of an infinite library that contains every book that could possibly be written.
The stories flit from world to world – from an enigmatic map shop to an uprising on a spaceship and to a Bukit Batok housing block where the inhabitants are being slowly but relentlessly transformed into living mathematical equations.