Sandro Lau reviews The Infinite Library And Other Stories & This Is How You Walk on the Moon for the Asian Cha Journal

…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.”
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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.

Where Her Shawl Ends And Her Cat Begins

Deven Philbrick, a writer, essayist and prose editor for the Seattle Review covers “The Infinite Library And Other Stories” for Singapore Unbound:

The distinction between literary and genre fiction has been the topic of much debate in recent years. How the distinction ought to be made and whether the distinction is ultimately useful at all are questions with which many people interested in contemporary fiction are deeply engaged. Although a consensus on the answers certainly does not exist, one significant result of the questions having been posed is a reluctance to dismiss universally so-called genre writers as peddlers of formulaic fictions designed for quick consumption and simple, mass appeal. Science-fiction, for example, is now more than ever taken seriously as literary art. Its potential for imagining alternative realities, for conceiving of other possibilities for organizing a world, makes it a genre with the capacity for profound philosophic investigation. Writers like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Thomas Disch, and Joanna Russ are increasingly accepted as towering figures of English-language letters. Victor Fernando Ocampo, author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories, has written a book that puts him among their rank.

Fundamentally, The Infinite Library and Other Stories is a book about possibility, limitation, and the boundary between them. In imagining alternative possibilities and stretching them to the point of snapping, Victor Fernando Ocampo engages in an act of profound political importance, aesthetic significance, and philosophical rigor that is a serious pleasure to ingest. ”

I am so honored and thrilled to get this killer review. I was both stunned and humbled after reading it. You can read the whole review here: Where Her Shawl Ends And Her Cat Begins (which is a line from The Old Blue Notebook, a story which first appeared in Daily Science Fiction).

Thank you to Deven and to Singapore Unbound editor Jee Leong Koh!

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“My Father Is Made of Light” in Steampunk Universe

My proto “Anito-Punk” story “My Father Is Made Of Light” was recently published in the anthology Steampunk Universe edited by Sarah  Hans.  This is an older story which was the seed for a longer, later work called “Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine” which originally came out in Lontar Volume 9.  The anthology also features works by Maurice Broaddus, Ken Liu, Malon Edwards, Suna Dasi, Emily Cataneo, Matthew Bright, Pip Ballantine, Jody Lynn Nye, and Lucy Snyder.

Steampunk Universe

“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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The “Surreal Worlds of Southeast Asia” panel at #WorldCon75

Singapore-based Speculative Fiction author and Lontar Journal founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg moderated a lively panel on Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction at yesterday’s #Worldcon75, with Nebula award- winning author Aliette de Bodard and myself. Like my other panel, this one was quite well attended and we were very happy to see that so many people were interested in Southeast Asian speculative fiction.

Aliette and I did a reading from one of our works and we spent the rest of the time taking questions and recommending many fine SEA authors from the region such as Dean Alfar (Philippines), Zen Cho (Malaysia) and JY Yang (Singapore).

P.S. – I provided a quick sneak peak of my first short story collection “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” during this panel 🙂

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58 Comments and the Blessed Feels

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Writing from the fringes of both genre and mainstream literature, I’m always surprised when someone says that they’ve read one of my stories (no, really).  Two weeks week ago I found out that a high school in Las Vegas, Nevada used “Blessed Are The Hungry” (Apex #62) as a study text for literature class. After reading it,  58 students left comments for me at Apex’s website. Most were very positive, a few critical, some were even quite effusive — but wow, 58 comments! That’s definitely a new record for me.

Here are some of my favorites:

From Kirsten Tan – “I thought that this story was engaging, and it was an interesting take on what can happen when you don’t fight back and how something horrible can continue to be perpetuated. I enjoyed reading about how the father and his sons chose to fight back instead of “suffer in silence,” and how this chain of events led to everyone finding out what was actually happening. I also felt concern when the mother told Elsa that she couldn’t go with her father simply because she’d be a great “breeder.” she’d It sort of reminded me of A Handmaid’s Tale, because women’s fertility were considered highly important.”

From Jordan – “Your story was very well written. It was very descriptive because of all the details, figurative language pieces, similes, etc. you added to your story. I found the part where Elsa was talking about all of these gruesome words to her younger sibling very disturbing and I can’t believe she was teaching those kinds of words to him but wow, this story gave such a different vibe than all the rest (which I really enjoyed). The dystopian, space feel was super cool to read in a book because I have never read anything like this before!

From Ariel Bloch – “This story is gruesome yet beautiful. A dying ship travelling through never ending darkness, with a spark of warmth and hope igniting in the dark. This terrifying yet realistic interpretation of the future keeps your eyes glued to the screen, and makes you fear, perhaps, your own dark thoughts and selfishness. The figurative language used in this short story sharpened my vision as I read, and encouraged me to dive further into this cold world. The moment you begin reading you get a sense of the foul society that Elsa lives in, and the hopelessness that has devoured generations as they were born and buried in the dark vacuum of space.”

From Anna Wood – “From the beginning, I was immediately intrigued by the execution scene. It was shocking how children were there to witness it. As the story progressed, it only became more and more fascinating. I like how you included a bit of mystery with the missing page and unknown levels of the spaceship. It left me questioning. At the end, I was still left with many questions. It was a very well written short story that I would definitely read as a book.

Although I did not write this story with secondary school readers in mind, I am very pleased that it was selected for them. Moreover, I am ecstatic that most of these kids seemed to enjoyed it (despite the scary parts). This is really a wonderful gift that they have given me. Without knowing it, these kids from Las Vegas and their wonderful, albeit anonymous, teacher have provided me with the encouragement I really needed to complete this story arc as a novel. Thank you so much!