“Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine” in LONTAR #9

“Father is the Blood, Mother is the Wine”,  my “Anito-punk” tale set in an alternate pre-Hispanic Philippines, is the cover story in Volume 9 of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. Check out the beautiful cover art by Lydia Wong.

The story revolves around a precocious young woman who worships Balatik, the ancient Filipino deity of hunting, journeys and slash-and-burn agriculture. Her father teaches her how to read their ancient language and she uses this knowledge to unlock secrets hidden inside a family Anito (Household God) that once belonged to the first Lakan of Tundon.

Incidentally, the constellation of Balatik is now more popularly known as the “Tres Marias” (The Three Marias) in Tagalog, “Magbangal” in Bukidnon, and “Seretar” in Teduray, the constellation of Balatik is composed of the three almost evenly spaced stars which act as the “belt” of the constellation of Orion the Hunter. It appears in the night sky between the months of October to May. Once directly overhead, it marks the start of the swiddens, the burning season for many  Filipino tribes.

I opted to leave this story out of my collection, The Infinite Library and Other Stories, because at that time I felt like I could develop it into a longer story. Perhaps someday…

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“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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My first Short Story Collection – The Infinite Library and Other Stories

I am very happy to announce that Math Paper Press in Singapore is publishing my first collection of short stories. There will be 17 altogether plus a foreword by Lontar Journal founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg. The cover art is by Eisner-award winning artist Sonny Liew.

The Infinite Library and Other Stories will be launched at the Singapore Writer’s Festival this 7 November (Tuesday) 8.30 pm – 9.30 pm at the Gallery II, The Arts House. This will be a Festival Pass event.

“Victor’s keen observational eye represents the clarity of the outsider—the Filipino writing about Singapore, and about the Philippines while apart from it, and about the world and the universe as an emissary of humanity—and you can almost see his verbal abilities stretching with the languidness of a well-fed housecat. Whether through the Ellisonian stylistic gymnastics of “Dyschronometria, or the Bells are Always Screaming”, or the hallucinogenic Phildickian leetspeak of “I m d 1 in 10”, or the faux-academic jargon of “An Excerpt from the Philippine Journal of Archaeology, 4 October 1916”, he pushes the limits of form and trope, all in the service of telling us about ourselves, like a shaman guiding you through a fever dream.

Let his stories, both experimental and conventional, illuminate your way through the darkness, as only someone with a foot in two worlds can do.” – from the foreword by Jason Erik Lundberg,

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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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“Your Mythology is Much Like My Mythology” panel at #WorldCon75

Here are some pictures from my Mythology panel at the World Science Fiction Convention in Finland where I got to talk about ancient Filipino deities, sweet potato farming rituals and manananggals with authors and experts like Irish novelist Peadar Ó Guilín; poet, author and Classicist Jenny Blackford, Fantasy novelist Alexandra Rowland; and Elli Leppä from the University of Helsinki.

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Front row (L to R): Jenny Blackford, Peadar Ó Guilín (moderator), Alexandra Rowland. Back row me and Elli Leppä.

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The panel was more popular than I expected. They actually had to turn people away.

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All-in-all it was great fun and I was happy to raise the flag for Philippine and Southeast Asian mythologies.

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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!