I was surprised to learn that my book, The Infinite Library And Other Stories, was recently featured by the Centre for Strategic Futures on their Recommended Reads site on LinkedIn. The CSF is a think tank under the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. Thank you so much to Ms Liana Tang, Deputy Head of CSF for her wonderful review!
As part of the sixth installment of Read! Fest by the National Library Board in Singapore, Senior Artificial Intelligence Researcher Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford and I will be giving a talk about how Science Fiction can predict and inspire real-world discoveries and inventions (or vice-versa).
Here’s the Blurb from Read! Fest 2019:
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke describes a portable flat screen news pad which forecast the iPads that we love and use today years before they were even created. Unconstrained by scientific impossibilities and spurred on by unbounded imagination, science fiction has successfully predicted technologies ranging from earphones and radios to medical drugs like anti-depressants. It continues to be a useful tool to conjure new technologies and explore their impact on society. Join Singaporean based writer Victor Ocampo and Senior Researcher, Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford as they share their perspectives on the genre and their love for sci-fic and ultimately attempt to answer the question: Does Science Fiction Predict or Inspire?
About the Speakers
Dr Ken Kahn’s interest in science fiction from early childhood eventually led him to join the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab which awarded him a doctorate in 1979. As part of his master’s thesis he built a system that could understand Robert Heinlein’s story All You Zombies – a very convoluted time travel story. He now does research at the University of Oxford and teaches at Yale-NUS.
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, Strange Horizons, Philippines Graphic, Science Fiction World and QLRS, as well as anthologies like Best New Singapore Short Stories and Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction.
This year Read! Fest is anchored on the theme of Voyage. Book a trip with us and discover alternative forms of reading at Read! Fest 2019 programmes as we journey through space and time, only from 22 June – 28 July.
When and Where: Saturday 20 July 2019, 11:00 to 11:30 AM at the Imagination and Possibility Room, The National Library, 1000 Victoria Street, Singapore.
For more details, visit check out the NLB site here.
Fan art is always a wonderful thing. I got a major case of the feels after finding out recently that a Surabaya, Indonesia artist, Aldrich Hezekiah (known on Twitter and DeviantArt as KiaBUGboy) had created a comic book based on my story Blessed Are The Hungry (Apex Magazine Vol. 62, editor Sigrid Ellis). Aldrich is currently pursuing his studies in Digital Art in Singapore. You can see more of his work here.
Thank you so much!
It’s interesting how this story is virtually unknown and unread in the Philippines — despite having been translated into Chinese (by one of the translators for Game of Thrones no less) and read by over a million people. It had received great reviews from places as far away as the US, the UK and New Zealand, and has even been used as resource material by a both a High School literature class in Las Vegas, as well as one of the Clarion workshops.
I really need to get my collection published in Manila. But now that VisPrint is gone, does anyone have any suggestions?
Thank you to the INK: Literary Collective of the #Yale-NUS college for inviting me to lead a generative Speculative Fiction workshop last Sunday as part of the Words In Progress: Yale-NUS Manuscript Intensive Weekend 2019. I hope I was able to give all the participants a different perspective on fantastical fiction and how they could use its tropes and techniques to put a new spin on their writing.
The day before that (Saturday) I had joined Singapore Literature Prize Winner Melissa De Silva in doing a critical review of two of the manuscripts submitted to INK. All in all it was a weekend well spent at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre.
I had great fun last Saturday (2 March) sharing my writing process with class of mostly Junior College and University kids. This lecture/workshop was part of the Singapore Book Council’s Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab series, a year-round program consisting of talks, workshops and mentorships for writers between the ages of 13 and 25. .
The three-hour session was divided into a lecture portion on the history, importance and types of Science Fiction, an interactive session on story-writing basics, then a workshop where the students would produce a one to three sentence story or word-clump*. The best two of which would win prizes. Interestingly the oldest and the youngest of the participants won first and second prize respectively.
Here was my course outline:
1.What is Science Fiction?
2. Developing Science Fiction Ideas
3.Building A Story Structure –
- Basic Plot Cheat Sheet
- Character Building
- Setting, Viewpoints and Tense
- Creating a Vibrant Narrative Voice
4. Getting Published
- Marketing your work
- Can you make money from SF Fiction?
5. Workshop Proper: Writing, Editing and Sharing (One Hour)
Thank you again to the Singapore Book Council (SBC) for inviting me. Please check out the rest of the Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab. Thank you also to everyone who took time from their Saturday afternoon to participate in our very lively session.
*n.b. This workshop was meant to introduce my writing process for Science Fiction rather than to produce a full short story. The goal was to teach participants how to develop an idea into a concrete flash fiction piece.
“…what is most striking is that these stories form a continuum of the Filipino diaspora from history into a hopeful future, investigating how separation has affected its members, and how in turn they have affected their host communities. This creates a deep and lingering connection between all the stories in the collection, through aspects of religion, language, time, and literature.”
Literary journalist, architect and P.H.D. student Sandro Lau, writes a great review of two short story collections — my book The Infinite Library And Other Stories, and This Is How You Walk On The Moon, a collection of Speculative Fiction edited by Patricia Karunungan, Samuel Caleb Wee and Wong Wen Pu. You can read the review here.
Singaporean writers, artists, and thinkers, living in Singapore and abroad were asked by the editors of Singapore Unbound for their favorite read of the year. Thank you to Singapore Literature Prize winner Ng Yi-Sheng for selecting my book.
Ng Yi-Sheng, poet, playwright, and fictionist. The Infinite Library and Other Stories by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2017). This may be the best collection of spec fic stories I’ve ever read by a Singapore-based author. The tales are wonderfully baroque, from a steampunk vision of Filipino national hero José Rizal at a naturist colony to a post-apocalyptic tale of a man cultivating crops and a digital transmitter in the world’s last library. Ocampo takes risks with form—stories are told with multiple endings, in the form of archaeological surveys and in SMS-speak—but manages to make all his tales share a single universe, with the same immortal characters and references (including the eponymous library) popping up in different plots. (I’m also intrigued by how Ocampo complicates our conceptions of Singaporean literature: he began writing in Singapore and is active in the local literary scene, but his fiction reflects his background as a cosmopolitan citizen of the Philippines. He’s got a south-south biculturalism thing going on, and it’s awesome.)
Coincidentally, my favorite Singaporean book of 2018 is Yi-Sheng’s exquisitely surreal Lion City Stories (Epigram, 2018).
You can read the rest of SP Blog’s 5th Annual Books Round-up here.
The 2018 Singapore Writers Festival finally came to a close for me with this final reading and panel discussion: Chicken Rice and Adobo: What We Love about the Philippines and Singapore.
Increased trade and cultural exchanges between Singapore and the Philippines have led to shared experiences and stories in prose and poetry. This session continues a literary dialogue that has spawned joint anthologies and readings. Listen to the featured writers read excerpts of their works and join in the fellowship centered on what we love such as comfort food, cultural diversity and a good story.
The rain was pouring heavily abut somehow most of the speakers and the audience managed to make their way to the HideOut@Funan Showsuite, at the corner of Hill Street and High Street. Thank you to the free rain ponchos provided by the organizers!
The event last 11 November was meant to celebrate the literary dialogue born from the long cultural exchange between Singapore and the Philippines. Poet and Director of the Poetry Festival Singapore, Eric Tinsay Valles (A World in Transit) moderated the lively panel made up of poet Aaron Lee (Coastlands), novelist Claire Betita de Guzman (Miss Makeover), poet and essayist Lawrence Ypil (The Highest Hiding Place), poet, playwrite and poet Heng Siok Tian (Is My Body A Myth) and myself. Author and poet Felix Cheong (Singapore Siu Dai: The SG Conversation In A Cup) was unable to attend due to an illness.
This is an exceedingly late post on our #SWF2018 panel “Speculative Fiction as Moral Compass” last Saturday 10 November with Rachel Heng (The Suicide Club), Nuraliah Norasid (The Gatekeeper) and myself, with Khoo Sim Eng (who heads the Film Studies Minor at SUSS) as our intrepid moderator.
As you can see from the pictures, we had a very lively discussion talking about the role Speculative Fiction can play in talking about Ethics. This was the most well-attended Singapore Writers Festival event that I was a part of. The organizers had to open a second room to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd.
“From pursuing immortality to eradicating marginalization, speculative fiction reveals the deepest desires of humankind. How can the genre prompt readers to assess humanity’s moral progress, and to rethink what could be right or wrong? This panel brings together authors across science fiction and fantasy to discuss the potentialities of the genre.”
Pictures above courtesy of Khoo Sim Eng and husband.