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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“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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