SWF WRITER FOCUS: Elaine Chiew interviews Singapore-based Filipino writer Victor Fernando Ocampo

Award-winning writer and editor Elaine Chiew interviewed me last year for her Contemporary Voices column at the Asian Book Blog:

For every writer, once in a rare while, a book comes along and really shakes you up, where (instead of that height/ceiling metaphor) I’d like to say instead, the floor drops on which you thought the legs of fiction stood. Victor Fernando Ocampo’s The Infinite Library and Other Stories did that for me. The ideas that power this collection are not just incredibly imaginative, they also weave a hybrid crossing through magical realism, allegory and science fiction, that ‘synchronicity’ Ocampo mentions in one of his stories. Rendered in prose that bears a unique voice, and also dark subtle humour in surprising turns of phrases, this collection is an invitation to a labyrinth for thought.

You can read the whole interview over at the Asian Books Blog.

“The Infinite Library and Other Stories” was also shortlisted for the Asian Book’s literary award: the Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year. This award highlights books of particular interest in, or especially relevant to, Asia, excluding the Near West / the Middle East.

Thank you to Elaine and to editor Rosie Milne!

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The Official Book Launch of “The Infinite Library And Other Stories”

Another very late post.

The Infinite Library And Other Stories (Math Paper Press 2017) was launched last 7 November, 2017, 8:30 PM at the Gallery II of the ArtsHouse during the Singapore Writer’s Festival.

A second launch event for the general public  was held at 4:00 PM, last 12 December 2017 at Neo Kinokuniya in Singapore.  Thank you to Math Paper Press publisher Kenny Leck for hosting the programme.

Thank you to everyone who attended! “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” is available from BooksActually at 9 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168645 and the Neo Kinokuniya store at Ngee Ann City 391 Orchard Rd, 04-20/20B/20C/20E, Singapore 238872.

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“Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine” in LONTAR #9

“Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine”,  my “Anito-punk” tale set in an alternate pre-Hispanic Philippines, is the cover story in Volume 9 of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. Check out the beautiful cover art by Lydia Wong.

The story revolves around a precocious young woman who worships Balatik, the ancient Filipino deity of hunting, journeys and slash-and-burn agriculture. Her father teaches her how to read their ancient language and she uses this knowledge to unlock secrets hidden inside a family Anito (Household God) that once belonged to the first Lakan of Tundon.

Incidentally, the constellation of Balatik is now more popularly known as the “Tres Marias” (The Three Marias) in Tagalog, “Magbangal” in Bukidnon, and “Seretar” in Teduray, the constellation of Balatik is composed of the three almost evenly spaced stars which act as the “belt” of the constellation of Orion the Hunter. It appears in the night sky between the months of October to May. Once directly overhead, it marks the start of the swiddens, the burning season for many  Filipino tribes.

I opted to leave this story out of my collection, The Infinite Library and Other Stories, because at that time I felt like I could develop it into a longer story. Perhaps someday…

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“Brother to Space, Sister to Time” is on the honourable mention list of BNSS V3

My L33t Speak/JEJEMON story “I M D 1 IN 10” was in the 2016 volume of Best New Singapore Stories (Jason Erik Lundberg, editor).

This year, my Pinoy space-opera story from Lontar Volume 6 made it to the honourable mention list of the Best New Singapore Stories Volume 3 (Cyril Wong, Guest Editor). I was a bit surprised (but grateful!) to see this, because it is the most Hard Science Fiction work I had ever attempted.  Congratulations to all  that were selected or shortlisted!

“Brother to Space, Sister to Time” is lovingly dedicated to my brother Hector Francisco V. Ocampo and my sister Noreen Maria-Regina Ocampo Oconer. Strangely enough, despite the genre trappings, this is also the most personal story I have ever written. There is so much for a reader to discover between the lines.

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My Book Birthday

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It was the book birthday of The Infinite Library and Other Stories last 28 September. If you would like to get an advanced copy, it’s available at the independent bookstore BooksActually ahead of the launch at the Singapore Writers Festival (on Tuesday, November 7 from 8.30 pm – 9.30 pm at the Gallery II of The Arts House).

Trivia time: What else shares my book birthday?

In 2015 NASA scientists announce the discovery of flowing water on Mars.

In 2008 SpaceX launches the first ever private spacecraft, the Falcon 1 into orbit.

In 1987 “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” debuts on syndicated TV

In 1965 Taal Volcano explodes in Batangas, Philippines killing around 100 people

In 1928 Juan de la Cierva completes the first helicopter flight over the English Channel

In 1901 Filipino patriots defeat 48 members of the US 9th Infantry in Balangiga, Samar

In 1066 William the Conqueror invades England, landing at Pevensey Bay, Sussex

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My SWF 2017 Schedule

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The Singapore Writers Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and I am happy to be part of an event that includes such literary and genre heavy weights such as Gemino Abad, Dean Alfar, Simon Armitage, Aliette de Bodard, Shelly Bryant, Junot Diaz, Ken Liu, Marjorie Liu, Isa Kamari, Jason Erik Lundberg, Ng Yi-Sheng, Tony Parsons, Edwin Thumboo , Cyril Wong and JY Yang to name just a few.

The festival’s theme this year is the Tamil word அரம் (Aram) whose meaning embodies goodness, equity and justice. Used extensively in older Tamil literature, it is a word has rich connotation and an ideal of goodness and generosity for humanity to aspire to. It is today a quality much needed in our increasingly complex and difficult world.

Some of the best Science Fiction stories also share this normative, Utopian vision and I hope to  be able to talk about it in my panels. You can find my SWF schedule here:

Lastly Math Paper press will be launching my book The Infinite Library and Other Stories along with The Story of Number Nine by Josiah Ng. I hope to see you all there!

New Titles by Math Paper Press III:
The Story of Number Nine and The Infinite Library
7 Nov Tue 8.30pm – 9.30pm
Gallery II, The Arts House                                                                                                   (Free Event)

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My first Short Story Collection – The Infinite Library and Other Stories

I am very happy to announce that Math Paper Press in Singapore is publishing my first collection of short stories. There will be 17 altogether plus a foreword by Lontar Journal founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg. The cover art is by Eisner-award winning artist Sonny Liew.

The Infinite Library and Other Stories will be launched at the Singapore Writer’s Festival this 7 November (Tuesday) 8.30 pm – 9.30 pm at the Gallery II, The Arts House. This will be a Festival Pass event.

“Victor’s keen observational eye represents the clarity of the outsider—the Filipino writing about Singapore, and about the Philippines while apart from it, and about the world and the universe as an emissary of humanity—and you can almost see his verbal abilities stretching with the languidness of a well-fed housecat. Whether through the Ellisonian stylistic gymnastics of “Dyschronometria, or the Bells are Always Screaming”, or the hallucinogenic Phildickian leetspeak of “I m d 1 in 10”, or the faux-academic jargon of “An Excerpt from the Philippine Journal of Archaeology, 4 October 1916”, he pushes the limits of form and trope, all in the service of telling us about ourselves, like a shaman guiding you through a fever dream.

Let his stories, both experimental and conventional, illuminate your way through the darkness, as only someone with a foot in two worlds can do.” – from the foreword by Jason Erik Lundberg,

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