Thank you so much to London-based Malaysian editor, writer, and theatre practitioner Zhui Ning Chang for inviting me to be a guest speaker at Birkbeck, University of London’s Arts Week 2023 yesterday. We had a great conversation about the themes of liminality, displacement and death in my book The Infinite Library and Other Stories, as well as my writing process, and the state of speculative fiction in Southeast Asia today. Thank you also to the very lively audience for all the thoughtful questions.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to run two storytelling workshops last 26 February and 26 March for the Migrant Writers of Singapore with SingLit Station. These folks are among the most talented writers I have ever met and are absolutely unmatched in heart.
We Filipinos are natural storytellers. It’s our way of sharing and building our communities, our faith and deepening our connections with one another. Salamat sa inyong lahat!
Thank you to the UST Faculty of Arts & Letters and the UST MaKatha Circle for inviting me to share my writing journey at their ” Roots & Refractions: Bridging MaKatha Traditions” event last 27 February. I really enjoyed interacting with so many young writers.
Keep reading what makes your heart sing. Fill yourself up with all the beauty that life throws your way. And keep writing — because young creatives like you are our best defense against all the terrible and ugly things darkening our reality. Once you realize what this world is worth, you will fight to defend it.
Write a new world for all of us…
Up next, meet Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, a Filipino author of speculative and experimental fiction stories!
A fellow at the Milford Science Fiction Writers’ Conference in the UK and the Cinemalaya Ricky Lee Film Script Writing Workshop in the Philippines, he currently resides in Singapore where he was also a writer-in-residence at the Jalan Besar at Sing Lit Station. His works have been shortlisted for the International Rubery Book Award in 2018, and he won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012.
Victor’s most recognized stories include:
THE INFINITE LIBRARY AND OTHER STORIES. Three Filipino siblings fighting an enemy that uses words as weapons, sigbin monsters in space, a banned children’s book hiding a secret that could save a doomed generation ship, a slow-motion disaster turning people into living math equations,?! Name it and this book surely has it. Grab this collection of stories that goes beyond what our mind deems possible and be carried away by all its mystical twists and turns.
Grab a copy:
HERE BE DRAGONS. Ever wished to have a map that would make life easier? Well,
Isabella met the perfect guy that makes a map of just about anything! Would she take the risk
“The Easiest Way to Solve a Problem” is a short story about adding the consciousness of expat Filipino PMET workers to a massive corporate AI in Singapore. It appeared last April, 2022 in the book Get Luckier: An Anthology of Philippine and Singapore Writings (Singapore: Squircle Line Press, 2022), edited by Migs Bravo Dutt, Claire Betita de Guzman, Aaron Lee Soon Yong, and Eric Tinsay Valles. – https://www.get-luckier-anthology.com/victor-fernando-r-ocampo
“I m d 1 in 10” , his experimental story inspired by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae, first appeared in the July 2014 issue of The Future Fire (Editor: Djibril al-Ayad). It was written with Latin, L337, IM and SMS speak, emoticons and a Filipino argot called Jejemon. – http://futurefire.net/2014.30/fiction/imd1in10.html
Immerse yourselves in Victor Ocampo’s works with this playlist!
: Anjellyca Villamayor, and Roanne Aludino
: Chrystal Cariño, Lauren Ainella Tagle, and Sophia Mendoza
Most Filipinos don’t know that the Philippine’s national hero Jose Rizal had quite a few connections to Singapore. In fact in 1896, Rizal’s friends urged him to save himself by remaining here, but sadly, it was not to be…
Thank you to the Philippine Embassy in Singapore and Penguin Random House Southeast Asia for hosting today’s celebration of Jose Rizal’s life, writing and his connection to Singapore. Chargé d’ Affaires (and author) Dr. Emmanuel R. Fernandez, his wife Alice and Penguin authors Noelle De Jesus, Migs Bravo Dutt, Mookie Katigbak Lacuesta and Sarge Lacuesta, as well as yours truly, read excerpts from our national hero’s poetry, letters and novels
Afterwards, I moderated a lively panel that discussed Rizal’s influence on Filipino writers, writing from the diaspora versus from the homeland, speculations about a hypothetical third novel, and other interesting topics. If host and cultural attaché Rosellie L. Bantay had not gently reminded us of the time, we would have probably talked for the whole afternoon.
Thanks to Patricia Mulles for the photos below.
Special thanks to Penguin publisher Nora Nazarene Abu Bakar for inviting me! Have a meaningful Rizal Day!
Join us on Thursday, 14 July 2002 at 07:30-9pm at the Crane Club, 281 Joo Chiat Road (Osprey Room).
Featuring: Laetitia Keok, myself and Monique Truong’s THE SWEETEST FRUITSEventbrite Tickets: $5.00 ($6.32 with taxes and fees)
An imprint of Singapore Unbound, Gaudy Boy publishes Asian authors from around the world. Our growing list includes such terrific writers as Monique Truong, Alfian Sa’at, Lawrence Lacambra Ypil, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Jhani Randhawa, Jenifer Sang Eun Park, and Tania De Rozario, among others. Our books have been reviewed in Publishers Weekly and Necessary Fiction; noted in The Paris Review, Poets & Writers, LitHub, Electric Literature, The Millions, Ms. Magazine, TimeOut, ArtsEquator, and Words Without Borders; and long- or shortlisted for The Believer, Lambda Literary, and Association for Asian American Studies awards. Come hear our authors and editors read from their work and talk about publishing with Gaudy Boy.
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is the author of the International Rubery Book Award-shortlisted The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017 ; US edition: Gaudy Boy, 2021) and Here be Dragons (Canvas Press, 2015), which won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012.
Laetitia Keok is a writer and editor from Singapore. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and published in Wildness Journal and Hobart Pulp, amongst others. She edits for Gaudy Boy and Sine Theta Magazine. You can find her at laetitia-k.com
With brilliant sensitivity and an unstinting eye, Monique Truong’s novel The Sweetest Fruits circumnavigates the globe, introducing three unforgettable women separated by geography and culture but connected by their love for the Greek-Irish author Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904). Gaudy Boy’s edition comes with a new afterword by the author.
If the recent unfortunate turn of events in the Philippines has brought you down, remember that literature is here to salve the hurt and perhaps also offer a way to move forward. Please join fictionist and editor, Gabby Lee and myself as we talk about how speculative fiction can plant the seeds of hope during a time of great darkness.
This online discussion will be hosted by the good people of The Filipino Alliance at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island on 12 May, at 8pm EST (8am in Singapore/Manila). Please use this link to register or scan the QR code below.
Update: Thank you to everyone that came or tuned in to my panels and my reading session! I miss attending cons so much. I hope it was as exciting and informative for you as it was for me. Thank you also (and a big virtual hug) to all those who said that they would look for my book “The Infinite Library and Other Stories.“ In North America the book is available from Available from Bookshop.org , Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other selected bookstores. The 10- volume LONTAR, The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction is available from the Epigram book shop.
Come and join me for my first speaking engagement this year. I will be a virtual (remote) panelist and reader at Boskone 59, New England’s oldest annual science fiction convention, an event entirely organized and run by amazing fan volunteers from the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA). More info here.
VIRTUAL: Speculative Fiction from Multilingual Authors Format: Panel 18 Feb 2022, Friday 20:00 – 20:50, Westin Marina III (19 February 09:00AM Singapore time)
Instead of having their stories translated, some non-English authors have chosen to write directly in English. Their personal experiences and the many challenges they face are not well known to the international community, in general, as well as to fandom, in particular. This panel will uncover some of those experiences to provide a better understanding of their work.
With: Jana Bianchi , Vida Cruz, Cristina Jurado, Julia Rios , and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
VIRTUAL: Brick by Brick: Worldbuilding Future Cities Format: Panel 19 Feb 2022, Saturday 18:00 – 18:50, Westin Marina III (20 February 07:00AM Singapore time)
It takes centuries to build a city; SF authors have less time. How do you write compelling futuristic cityscapes that feel real? Let’s consider how to give your Trantor or Diaspar, Gethen or Blackfish City, Enlivened Cincinnati or Teixcalaan or Silicon Isle new technologies and old buildings; sights, sounds, and smells; history, culture, and peoples. (Plus sanitation.) How much detail do you need? How much can you get away with making up?
With: Kelly Robson, Carrie Vaughn, Michael M. Jones, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, and Larry Niven
VIRTUAL: Group Reading: Johnson, Martine, Ocampo Format: Reading 19 Feb 2022, Saturday 20:00 – 20:50, Westin Marina III (20 February 09:00AM Singapore time)
With: Les Johnson, Arkady Martine, and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
If you missed our panel “POSTHUMOUS POSTHUMANITY: What’s Beyond The Human Species? Augmentation, Hybridization and Externalization; New Identities Arising in Contemporary Science Fiction” last 4th of September 2021, you can now catch it on YouTube –
Thank you also to the Pushcart-nominated writer and 2020 Felipe P. De Alba Fellow, Jemma Wei for hosting the event ,and to the wonderful Monique Truong, winner of the 2004 PEN/Robert Bingham Award, and best selling author of The Book of Salt, Bitter in the Mouth, and The Sweetest Fruits for judging the entries to Singapore Unbound‘s first flash fiction contest (the prompt of which was the title of my book). Congratulations to all the winners:
First prize: “A Room with a Point of View,” by Masturah Alatas (Italy).
Second prize: “This Is a Nice Hotel,” by Olivia Djawoto (Singapore).
Third Prize: “Devotion,” by Shuchi (Singapore).
Honorable Mention: “How Fucky Am I To Be Loved,” by Aaric Tan Xiang Yeow (Singapore).
Lastly, thank you to all who submitted entries and to all those who spent their Saturday evening with us!
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 email@example.com 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.