Lontar Retrospective at #SWF2018

We celebrated 10 issues of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction last 8 November at a retrospective panel sponsored by #BooksActually. The event was held at the sidelines of  @SGwritersfest #SFW2018, and hosted by Michelle Martin of MONEY FM 89.3.  Christina Sng and I were on the panel, along with founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg. In the audience were comics editor Adan Jimenez and several contributors such as Theo Melwani and Wayne Rée. Poetry editor Kristine Ong Muslim could not be around (but was definitely there in spirit).

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With our favorite LONTAR covers (L-R) Michelle Martin holds a copy of Vol 6; Christina Sng picked Vol 5; me with Vol 9, and Jason with Vol 10. The cover of Volume 6 illustrates my story “Brother To Space, Sister To Time” while Volume 9 featured another of my stories “Father Is The Blood, Mother Is The Wine”.

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Michelle introducing Christina.

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Shortly after Christina talked about pontianaks, this ghostly bride appeared above us.

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With New York based writers Ellie Rhymer and Manish “Theoretical Starchild” Melwani (who contributed “The Tigers of Bengal” in issue #7 and “Sejarah Larangan; or, “The Forbidden History of Old Singapura” in issue #10).

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.


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“To See Infinity In The Pages Of A Book” Translated into Tamil for Aroo

அண்டத்தில் யாரும் பார்த்திராத ஒன்று விண்வெளிவீரருக்கும், வான்கணிப்பாளருக்கும் தென்பட்டது – முடிவிலியின் இழையை பற்றியபடி காலவெளியின் பக்கங்களுக்குள் விழுந்துக்கொண்டேயிருத்தல்.”

Those who fall endlessly into books never die. They are forever reading.

My flash fiction piece “To See Infinity In The Pages Of A Book” (முடிவிலியின் இழை) was recently translated into Tamil and appeared in the online Speculative Fiction magazine Aroo, along with the accompanying artwork by Sonny Liew. This far-future philosophical tale originally came out in LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Fiction Volume 10 whie Sonny’s piece was first used for the cover of my short story collection The Infinite Library And Other Stories.

Aroo (அரூ) is a short form of the Tamil word “Aroobam” (அரூபம்), meaning formlessness.

Thank you to the editor Ram for including our work. Congratulations on the launch of Aroo!

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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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An Anito-Punk Tale in the Philippines Graphic and Business Mirror

“Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine” appeared recently in the Philippines Graphic. You can also read it online at the Business Mirror.  Thank you to Literary Editor Alma Anonas-Carpio and Editor-in-Chief Joel Pablo Salud.

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The Straits Times: Debut collection crammed with ideas

Lovingly spun and told with a keen eye on familial relationships, as well as the inexorable desires of humankind, these stories signal that Ocampo may well be becoming the gold standard in South-east Asian speculative fiction.” – Clara Chow

So my little book The Infinite Library and Other Stories got a really great review from the Straits Times.  You can read it online here.

This represents one of the major milestones of my writing journey. My very first post on this blog was “I never thought that I would ever get anything published.’ Now I have somehow managed to produce two books — and one of them has been reviewed favorably on Singapore’s major broadsheet.

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Thank you to fellow author Clara Chow and the editors of the Straits Times.

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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