Its funny how after you write a story, it’s actually hard to tell whether it will end up in the bin or if it will have publishing legs. Despite taking me close to a year to write, I was so sure my experimental Leetspeak/SMS/Jejemon story I M D 1 In 10 would never find a home because of its challenging use of language. To my surprise, it was picked up first by The Future Fire (July 2014) and then by the anthology Best Singapore Short Stories (2015). Happy to announce that I seem to have completed a hat trick with Big Echo (an online magazine featuring critical Science Fiction stories) featuring it in their 13th issue (devoted to avante-guard Science Fiction works). Thank you to Robert Penner and editor William Squirrell for including it.
I was surprised to learn that my book, The Infinite Library And Other Stories, was recently featured by the Centre for Strategic Futures on their Recommended Reads site on LinkedIn. The CSF is a think tank under the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. Thank you so much to Ms Liana Tang, Deputy Head of CSF for her wonderful review!
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.
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!
A great big ‘Thank you!” to everyone who has read my book and and an even bigger shout-out to those who have sent me kind words over social media — especially to the three excellent folks below who took the time to write me reviews:
(1) First there is vlogger Rachel Tan who does her Rachel’s Now Reading reviews on Youtube. You can check out here video here .
(2) I am a big fan of Ng Yi-Sheng‘s work, whether it be his poetry, stories, performances or his important advocacy work for LGBTQ issues. Thank you for spending some time to read my stories!
(3) Lastly, thank you to the anonymous BooksActually Elf that did the review for “The Infinite Library And Other Stories”. You can read it here.
You can get copies of my book delivered to you by BooksActually here.
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!