“Infinite Degrees of Freedom” now in Science Fiction World

Infinite SFW March 2017 (2)

My YA story about shape-changing robots modeled after the Sigben (Sigbin) of Philippine myth has been translated into Chinese. The original appeared in the book Science Fiction: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults (2016, eds.  Dean Francis Alfar & Kenneth Yu) from the University of the Philippines Press.

The translation appeared last month in China’s Science Fiction World. With a circulation of +300,000 and 3 to 5 readers per copy, Wikipedia estimates that SF World has a total readership of about one million people — making it the world’s most popular Science Fiction periodical.

“Infinite Degrees of Freedom” is my second story in this venue, after 2015’s “Blessed Are The Hungry” (which originally appeared in Apex 62).

Infinite SFW March 2017 (1)

Sadly, the artist for my story did not use the Sigben visual references I provided. The monster illustrated above looks more like a mutant snubbull from Pokemon Go.

“Panopticon” reviewed by Star Malaysia

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Joel Wijesuria of Star Malaysia recently reviewed the Buku Fixi Anthology Trash . he had a lot of kind words for my story “Panopticon”:

Panopticon, a sci-fi tale of rebirth and punishment by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo weaves an intricate narrative of a man who dies, only to find himself born again, disposed of by a vengeful ex-love, and doomed to repeat over and over. Ocampo’s world is vivid and technicoloured and terrifying. A brilliant read.”

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Trash (2016), Eds Dean Francis Alfar & Marc de Faoite; Kuala Lumpur, Fixi Novo

Review of Lontar Volume 6

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Eric Norris, an American author from Portlandia, recently reviewed Lontar Issue 6  for Singapore Poetry. He had these kind words to say about my story “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” :

“Picking a favorite here is impossible for me. But the last story in the collection, “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” by Filipino author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, sticks in my mind. It is the most hard-science science fiction story in the collection, taking place, as it does, on the fringes of a black hole; and involving, as it does: time travel, tachyon particles, neural computer interfaces, hyperspace, rickety spaceships, and the whole range of fan-servicing verbal engineering one expects and enjoys. More than anything, “Brother to Space, Sister to Time,” tells the story of three Filipino siblings under stress, with an interstellar backdrop. In the exploration of alternative realities, Ocampo never loses touch with the idea of family and roots, literary and national:

The thumping sound in the HVAC vents had become unbearable. All over the Quijano De Manila, every metal object vibrated as if it were singing the most dissonant of songs.

“Idiots!” younger sister yelled, as her levels of cortisol and norepinephrine overwhelmed her digital dream-catcher. “Why do I have brothers and not sisters? Boys are never on the ball. We’re at the wormhole already and you’re still arguing about what to do! There is a fucking library we need to go to, an infinite library at the heart of a pocket universe.”

“Bullshit!” elder brother screamed. “There’s nothing there! We’ll just die! Are you all deaf? Don’t you hear the singing? It’s a dirge, a death-korido.”

The thumping sound in the vents was keeping time to a strange melody streaming in from outside the ship. Each note seemed to escalate the tension between us, plucking the strings of every hurt and all the secret resentments we had locked away in our hearts.

“Stop this! Stop this!” I cried. “We’re a family!”

“An infinite library at the heart of a pocket universe”. I would be hard pressed to find a finer or more succinct metaphor to describe Lontar. Or for what it means to be human, I think.

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Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asia Speculative Fiction, Issue #6, is edited by Jason Erik Lundberg, Kristine Ong Muslim, and Adan Jimenez (Singapore: Epigram Books, 2016)

My Writing Year – 2015

Posted on January 1, 2016

This year went as well as it could for me, writing-wise, as I didn’t really expect to publish much. Last year’s novel is unfortunately still stuck at chapter 4 (I’ve decided to shelve it for a while). The short film based on “Big Enough for the Entire Universe” is still stuck in post-production, with the release date moved to mid-2016. Lastly, the publication dates of six new short stories were also moved from the end of 2015 to 2016.

Despite all of these setbacks there have been couple of highlights:

  • My poem “Objets trouvés de Singapour” appeared in Vol. 14 No. 2 of the Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore last April 2015. This was a post-internet experimental poem where the text was mined from Singapore government slogans and local commercial advertising from the last 50 years. It’s also my first published poem.
  • “An Excerpt from the Philippine Journal of Archaeology (04 October, 1916)” (which first appeared in Likhaan Journal 8 by the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing in December 2014) is now being used as recommended reading material by the University of the Philippine’s Literature program.
  • Blessed are the Hungry” (a Filipino space opera which first appeared in Apex Magazine issue 62, July 2014), was translated into Mandarin Chinese by Hu Shao Yan and was published in the March 2015 volume of Science Fiction World. I have been told that this magazine has close to a million readers, so this story is now probably my most read story ever.
  • I m d 1 in 10”  (my experimental story inspired by Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae which first appeared in the July 2014 issue of The Future Fire) was anthologized in the Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two by Epigram Books. Plus, I got to talk about my work at a panel in this year’s Singapore Writer’s Festival.

VRO Poster

Best of all, my first children’s book, the Romeo Forbes Award-winning “Here be Dragons” was finally released in 24 August, 2015.  Thank you to Gigo and Canvas, Jon, Rhandee, Danny and everyone who was involved in it’s almost 3-year long production.

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As usual there was not enough time to do all my writing projects. As a result, I have more work-in-progress stuff right now that I have ever had before — including three short stories, two flash pieces, a Line novelette, a Filipino translation and my second children’s book.

I mentioned earlier that the publication dates of six new short stories were delayed to this year. This means that I already have a substantial line-up coming for 2016 without having to do much.

Happy New Year to all my readers and thank you for all your support!

 

My Reading at the Singapore Writer’s Festival 2015

Postscript:  BNSSV2 was reviewed by Angus Whitehead of  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore  in ASIATIC, Volume 11, Number 1, June 2017 and had this to say about this story: “Another dystopian tale is Victor Fernando R. Ocampo’s ambitious long “I am d 1 in 10” which is certainly distinctive, much of it written in SMS format: “THEY R COMING 4 me, my Dev/Null executioners, I got no more tym left so u, dear reader, have 2 fill in the gaps in my story”(39). and seems to successfully nod to the world of social media operating in an ever more constricting and hierarchical climate of fear, while ironically bemoaning via machine the loss of material text, print culture.

I will be reading a short excerpt from my story “I m d 1 in 10” at Epigram’s book launch of the Best New Singapore Stories Volume 2 (edited by Jason Erik Lundberg) at the Singapore Writer’s Festival on Sunday, 1st Nov, 7-8 pm, in the Gallery at The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429).

Other authors reading include Joshua Ip, Gemma Periera, Jeremy and Tania de Rozario. Please come!

“I m d 1 in 10” is my experimental, epistolary story which I can only term as “Immigrant Speculative Fiction” It’s about what you have to sacrifice to move to “a better country”, it’s about fitting in with the crowd — sometimes at the cost of your soul, and the consequences of living with extreme cognitive dissonance.

It was written with Latin (representing the order of an officially-controlled public language) and an vernacular based on L337, IM and SMS speak, emoticons and a Filipino argot called Jejemon (which is what everyone actually speaks and writes with in private).

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Here’s a short excerpt:

They r coming 4 me, my Dev/Null executioners, I got no more tym left so u, dear reader, have 2 fill in d gaps in my story. I don’t know who u r, but if u value ur life, LISTEN 2 me.  I’m a dead man talking.

Listen n listen closely.

Life Hack # X: Speak their Latin or die.

I signed up because I want only d best 4 my family” — d@’s d only safe answer if any1 asks u why u’re here. B very careful wot u say n remMbR, always remMbR:  “Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis”. Its best 2 endure w@ u can’t change. Ur f*cking life depends on it. N don’t ever speak ur mind. If u’re a resident of d New Cities, ur mind’s not urs, not anymore. So speak their Latin n b safe.

If they pursue conversation, stick 2 trivial topics. Rhetorical questions can n will give u away. U never know who u’ll be talking 2. Let suspicion breed ur confidence.  In d New Cities, d walls have eyes n every word is twittered by d wind. Speak only every1’s truth. Think b4 u speak, n never ever post what u really feel. HIDE URSELF FIERCE, HIDE URSELF DEEP.

(<_<) = J

For #ThrowbackThursday

For #ThrowbackThursday, #TBT I am sharing the cover and the first page of Hu Shaoyan’s Chinese translation of “Blessed Are the Hungry” which originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Science Fiction World. Western readers may find the cover artwork familiar (“Spring Day is Coming” by Liu Junwei) as it also appeared as the cover of Clarkesworld issue 105 later that year.

Two New SFF Stories Coming Soon!

Very happy to announce that I have sold two stories in the last  two weeks. The first one is “Brother to Space, Sister to Time”, a family drama/space opera piece set in the last remaining Filipino space colony, very far away from mother Earth.

One of the things I really liked about this work was that I got to meditate on three important issues on the future of communication. It allowed me to explore questions like:

1. When you create a device that can communicate across interstellar space, aren’t you also creating one that can talk through time?

2. Is it possible to weaponize music to hack into someone’s brain?

3. What happens to a highly social group (such as Filipino society) when you can no longer communicated without tech mediation?

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The second story I’ve sold is my Pre-hispanic “woodpunk” story called “My Father is Made of Light” where the ancient Filipino household dieties called “Anitos” are really library automations of shell, silver and wood. Inside they carry an almost innumerable number of rontal (inscriptions on palm leaves) to instruct and advise children.

It’s set in a world where people mine the bodies of dead gods for fuel and is about a little girl’s fierce determination to save her parents from a seemingly impossible disaster.

Sadly, my post title is a bit misleading, both stories will take sometime to be released — late this year and in 2016.

Anito

“Blessed Are the Hungry” in Science Fiction World

I am so honored to announce that “Blessed Are the Hungry” (which originally appeared in Issue 62 of Apex Magazine) has been translated into Chinese by my friend Hu Shao Yan. It appears on this month’s edition of Science Fiction World! This magazine has a circulation of about 130K subscribers and a readership of close to one million people, I still can’t believe they accepted and published our work. I have been told that this is the first time they have published a story by a Filipino author.

For those who still have space on their Hugo ballot this year, please consider my little tale of a Filipino family on a Generation Ship for the Short Story category.

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“Exit Quiapo Station” in Maximum Volume 2

“Exit Quiapo Station” my Robert Altman inspired story set on a Filipino-run space elevator will be in Maximum Volume 2. Thank you so much to editors Dean Francis Alfar and Sarge Lacuesta!

Like “I m d 1 in 10” (at The Future Fire), this work is also quite experimental in structure, playing with the placement of dialogue and mixing up tenses. “Exit Quiapo Station” explores several themes that could affect us in the near future such as commercial space travel,  the rise of the ultra-super rich, the decoupling of sex from reproduction, the acceptance of non-traditional families, and the socio-biological future of call center agents.

In line with my recent stories, there is a Pinoy mythical element in this “mundane” Sci-Fi piece. This time it’s a witch — a mangkukulam who hails from the “magic market”  outside the old Quiapo church, and a bottle of her gayuma love potion.

Exit Quiapo Station

Space Elevator image c/o of io9.