“The Infinite Library And Other Stories” a My Book Of The Year Selection

Singapore Unbound

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.

My Schedule for the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival

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The 2018 Singapore Writers Festival is just around the corner.  As both a moderator and a featured writer, I have a lot more events this year than in 2017. Please drop by and say hello.

SCHEDULE

03 Nov, Saturday 8.00pm – 9.30pm (90 minutes) – Break Out: A Gala Reading

  • What: Reading
  • Venue: The Arts House, Gallery II
  • Featuring: Adam Aitken, Maria Galina, Law Lok Man, Louise 羅樂敏, Nina McConigley, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Sithuraj Ponraj, Yoko Tawada
  • Moderator: TBC

How does one stay true to one’s identity even as he/she crosses multiple cultures, languages and time zones? Is a person’s voice to be discovered, or a continuum of incremental influences? Whether whipping up new speculative realms or switching between linguistic codes, these writers exemplify the magpie sensibility. Don’t miss this special reading showcasing imaginative wordsmiths.


04 Nov, Sunday 7.00pm – 8.00pm (60 Minutes) – The Familiar and the Alien

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: The Arts House, Chamber
  • Featuring: Rachel Heng, Kass Morgan, Krishna Udayasankar
  • Moderator: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

In imagining the future or an alternative reality, a writer must achieve resonance through setting and characterisation. How does one draw in the reader with enough known elements from the real world in order to make it relatable? Kass Morgan creates a dystopic series where Earth has been devastated by a nuclear apocalypse; Rachel Heng sets her novel in a near future in New York City where people can live for 300 years; and Krishna Udayasankar, a Singapore-based Indian author known for her modern retelling of Mahabharata through the novels Govinda, Kaurava and Kurukshetra.


05 Nov, Monday 8.30pm – 9.30pm (60 Minutes) – The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern Science

  • What: Classroom Series
  • Venue: The ArtsHouse, Living Room
  • Featuring: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

What were the science fiction works that came before modern science? Published in 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been argued to be the first sci-fi novel. Since then, authors such as Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke have imagined what science could achieve through their writing. In this Classroom Talk, sci-fi author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo explores the relationship between literature and the sciences, and how science fiction has actually inspired, and continues to inspire, the science of today.


08 Nov, Thursday 7:30pm – 8:30 (60 minutes) – LONTAR Retrospective

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: SWF Bookstore
  • Featuring: Jason Erik Lundberg, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Christina Sng
    Moderator: Michelle Martin

BooksActually presents LONTAR Retrospective with Jason Erik Lundberg, Christina Sng, Victor Ocampo.


10 Nov, Saturday 10.30am – 11.30am (60 minutes) – Speculative Fiction as Moral Compass

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: The ArtsHouse, Blue Room
  • Featuring: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Rachel Heng, Nuraliah Norasid
  • Moderator: Khoo Sim Eng

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.


11 Nov, Sunday 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM (90minutes) – Chicken Rice and Adobo: What We Love about the Philippines and Singapore

  • What: Reading and Panel Discussion
  • Venue: HideOut@Funan Showsuite, Junction of Hill Street and High Street. Free Event
  • Featuring: Aaron Lee, Claire Betita de Guzman, Lawrence Ypil, Heng Siok Tian, Felix Cheong and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  • Moderator: Eric Tinsay Valles

Description:
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.


SWF 2018

LONTAR Volume 10: Saying Goodbye To A Southeast Asian Institution

The first volume of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction came out in 2013. Named after “Lontar” (“Rontal” in Filipino), an Indonesian word for a bound palm-leaf manuscript from the fifth century BCE , it was meant to showcase Speculative Fiction writing in its myriad forms from all across Southeast Asia.

I was too late to contribute to its maiden issue, but my story “Entanglement” appeared in Volume 2. Two further works “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” and “Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine” appeared in Volumes 6 and 9 respectively. Both ended up as the cover stories.

It’s really sad to see LONTAR go. There really isn’t any publication of it’s scope and breadth focused exclusively on Southeast Asia anywhere in the world.

It’s tenth and final issue is double-sized wonder featuring work by Dean Alfar, Vida Cruz, Drewscape,  Joses Ho, Patricia Karuningan, Gabriela Lee, Manish Melwani, Wayne Ree, Lakan Umali, Eliza Victoria, Topaz Winters, Cyril Wong, Kevin Martens Wong, and many others. Founding Editor Jason Erik Lundberg wanted to include the artwork made by award-winning artist Sonny Liew for the my book The Infinite Library and Other Stories.  I wrote a flash fiction piece called “To See Infinity In The Pages Of A Book” to accompany it.

Thank you to Jason, Poetry Editor Kristine Ong Muslim, Comics Editor Adan Jimenez, and publishers Epigram and Math Paper Press (Volumes 1 and 2) for all the hard work.

Let’s hope it won’t be too long before another publication picks up LONTAR’s legacy.

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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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Do Something Amazing Today: Support a Good Writer You May Not Know

Update: As the news has become public now, we can say that she has just lost her husband and the father of her children.  We’ve just passed the 8,000 euro mark and continue to be humbled by your generosity and love for Rochita. Please help keep the momentum going so that we can reach our stretch goals!

Clarion West alumnus and British Science Fiction Award nominated Rochita Loenen-Ruiz has done so much to support new and underprivileged writers in the SFF and diaspora communities. She has personally helped me and many other emerging writers with craft, publishing and general-life advice, as well as providing us with her (always) unwavering support — particularly whenever the going got tough.

After I ran into troll trouble last year, I stopped writing. I would have never been able to start again if not for her.

Rochita

Don’t know Rochita? Here are some of her wonderful stories:

 Song of the Body Cartographer published in Philippine Genre Stories June 2012  59 Beads, in Apex Magazine                                                                                      Hi Bugan ya Hi Kinggawan, in Fantasy Magazine

She also writes a column for Strange Horizons on topics like Diversity, Antidotes to Toxicity and the Poetics of Struggle.

Unfortunately Rochita and her family recently suffered a great personal tragedy. It’s time for us — her friends and fellow writers — to give a little back.  Please help anyway you can by donating money, rewards, or by simply spreading the word about our campaign to Raise Funds for Rochita.

Apart from helping a great writer (and all-around wonderful human being) you will get the following rewards:

All donors will gain access to our downloadables microsite which includes a Xuya sampler ebook by Aliette de Bodard and printable coloring sheets by Likhain. As the campaign proceeds we’ll update this with more downloadables.

At the end of the campaign we’ll do a random draw for the following rewards, which have been contributed by their respective authors/publishers:

– Four audiobooks of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard
– Two signed hardcovers of SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho (US edition)
– A signed copy of SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon, with two brush art cards of the winner’s choice
– A one-year SHIMMER subscription (six issues in PDF, EPUB or MOBI)
– A one-year UNCANNY subscription (six issues in PDF, EPUB or MOBI)
– A signed copy each of THE KITE OF STARS and HOW TO TRAVERSE TERRA INCOGNITA by Dean Francis Alfar
– A signed copy of HERE BE DRAGONS by Victor R Ocampo, illustrated by Jon Jaylo
– A book bundle containing FISH EATS LION, LONTAR 2, and AYAM CURTAIN (donated by Victor R Ocampo)
– Three copies each of THE WEIRD, THE TIME TRAVELLER’S ALMANAC, and THE THACKERY T. LAMBSHEAD CABINET OF CURIOSITIES anthologies edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
– A copy of the BEYOND anthology of queer SFF comics edited by Sfé R. Monster and Taneka Stotts (donated by Gabby Reed)
– A signed copy of LIFE THROUGH CELLOPHANE by Gillian Pollack (may be sent via sea mail if shipping outside Australia)
– A signed paperback of MAKING WOLF by Tade Thompson
– 10 ebooks of ALTERNATIVE ALAMAT anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology (EPUB and MOBI; donated by Paolo Chikiamco)
– Original art of an ALPHABET OF EMBERS illustration by Likhain (donated by Stone Bird Press)
– A complete ebook set of the ANGELINK books by Lyda Morehouse (in EPUB and MOBI; donated by Cheryl Morgan)

Please check the site for the updated list of rewards. Do something amazing today. Help us Raise Funds for Rochita. Thank you!