Maureen K Speller, RIP

I am very much saddened to hear about the death of Maureen K Speller. She was a fantastic editor and critical beta reader who helped me with my stories “Blessed are the Hungry” and “Dyschronometria, or The Bells are Always Screaming”. My deepest condolences to her family.

Maureen Kincaid Speller was a critic and reviewer. She was Senior Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons, and Assistant Editor of Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction. She also reviewed for Interzone and Vector. She was a former Arthur C. Clarke Award judge, and a former James Tiptree Jr. Award judge.

Novel Writing Workshop at Yale-NUS

Thank you once again to poet Lawrence Ypil and the Yale-NUS Writing Centre for inviting me and Meihan Boey (co-winner of the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize for The Formidable Miss Cassidy, and the author of a science fiction novella, The Messiah Virus) to conduct a novel writing workshop with selected literature students.

This is the third such workshop I have done and I always find it such a rare pleasure to read the first manuscripts of new writers.

Joint Letter About BooksActually from Math Paper Press Authors

All my thoughts are already articulated in this statement I have co-signed. There is absolutely no place for sexual harassment or exploitation in Singapore’s literary community or anywhere else.

As members of the literary community, we were angry and disheartened to read about the accounts of past employees at BooksActually. We do not condone any behaviour that is non-consensual or exploitative in any way. We acknowledge their hurt, and honour the courage of these people for speaking up. The bookstore has provided space for a diversity of writers for more than a decade. As authors who have been published by Math Paper Press, the publishing arm of BooksActually, we acknowledge the contributions that BooksActually has made to our literary scene.  Nonetheless, we believe that any wrong must be righted and perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions. We also acknowledge that our writing community should do better, and that scarce resources should never be an excuse for unacceptable behaviour. We commit to creating a transparent and safe community where no one should have to suffer in silence; we’ll actively work to welcome all into the conversation.

We urge BooksActually and its present owner, Kenny Leck, to account for past mistakes and work on guaranteeing a safe and healthy environment for its employees. We welcome the decision to transfer Kenny’s ownership of the bookstore to the team, and await to see how the transfer of ownership will transpire within the bookstore. If BooksActually wishes to receive the support of our writing environment, we need them to fulfil their promises of outlining and enforcing better procedures and policies, including an anti-harassment policy.

We hope that BooksActually emerges from this controversy and becomes a bookstore we can depend on and love.

Signed:

Alfian Sa’at
Ally Chua
Amanda Chong
Ang Shuang
Ann Ang
Ashley Ho
Audrey Chin
Christine Chia
Cyril Wong
Daryl Qilin Yam
David Wong
Felix Cheong
Jee Leong Koh
Jennifer Anne Champion
Jerrold Yam
Jon Gresham
Krishna Udayasankar
Loh Guan Liang
Mahita Vas
Mani Rao
Marc Nair
Meihan Boey
Ng Yi-Sheng
Nurul Amillin Hussain
O Thiam Chin
Qamar Firdaus Saini
Rodrigo Dela Peña Jr.
Sanjay C Kuttan
Shelly Bryant
Stephanie Chan
Tania De Rozario
Topaz Winters
Verena Tay
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

On behalf of themselves and 6 other MPP authors.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=110865048023181&id=110848271358192

RIP, Daniel Palma Tayona

Very sad to learn that Daniel Palma Tayona has passed away. He was a wonderful book artist, graphic designer, storyteller-illustrator (with several exhibits under his belt). As creative director of CANVAS press, Dan designed and illustrated children’s books for over 22 years. Notable among the books he designed was “Doll Eyes” (by Eline Santos, illustrated by Joy Mallari), which won The National Children’s Book Award in 2012.

That same year “Here Be Dragons” won the Romeo Forbes award and Dan was responsible for the very beautiful layout, “remixing” my English text, Rhandee Garlitos‘ Filipino translation, and Jon Jaylo‘s paintings.

My wife and I would like to offer his family and friends our deepest condolences. Rest in peace, my friend.

Dan HBD

Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds

A Google alert yesterday informed me that The Infinite Library and Other Stories was one of ten featured books in Olivia Ho’s Straits Times article “Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds“.

Unable to leave home due to circuit breaker measures or even set foot outside your room due to a home quarantine order? Escape your physical confines through the “uniquely portable magic” of books, as author Stephen King puts it. Here are 10 works of fiction that contain worlds within worlds for you to wander.

  1.  “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (1950) by C.S. Lewis
  2.  “Neverwhere” (1996) by Neil Gaiman
  3.  “Sophia and the Utopia Machine” (2018) by Judith Huang
  4.  “His Dark Materials” (1995 to 2000) by Philip Pullman
  5.  “Howl’s Moving Castle” (1986) by Diana Wynne Jones
  6.  “The Star-Touched Queen” (2016) by Roshani Chokshi
  7. “The Night Circus” (2011) by Erin Morgenstern
  8.  “The Eyre Affair” (2001) by Jasper Fforde
  9.  “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” (2017, Math Paper Press) by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  10.  “Neverending Story (1979, translated 1983) by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim)

Happy to be in such distinguished company. Thank you for including my book!

Math Paper Press recently ran a second printing and you can now get a copy again at Kinokuniya, localbooks.sg and BooksActually.

Between 11 to 13 May, 2020 there will be a sale of all Math Paper Press Titles at BooksActuallyshop.com.  Use the code MPP40 when you shop at the online store to get a 40% discount. They deliver internationally.

ST-books-13May2020 paper

n.b. Thank you also to Jason Erik Lundberg for the PDF scan above.


THE INFINITE LIBRARY AND OTHER STORIES (2017, Math Paper Press)
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

cropped-infinite-library_cover-final-2017-09-12.jpg

This fantastical collection of 17 stories alludes to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’s idea of an infinite library that contains every book that could possibly be written.
The stories flit from world to world – from an enigmatic map shop to an uprising on a spaceship and to a Bukit Batok housing block where the inhabitants are being slowly but relentlessly transformed into living mathematical equations.

Other Futures: Intro to Asian SF + My Process of Writing

Other Futures is an annual multidisciplinary festival and exhibition that presents speculative visions of the future based in the Netherlands. The conference brings together makers and thinkers from all over the world who use speculative fiction to imagine and build other futures and invites them to share their visions with visitors from diverse walks of life. Like many cons and festivals this year, Other Futures went online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last April 11, I gave my first-ever remote lecture which was split into three parts – an Introduction to Asian Science Fiction, sharing my writing process and a short Drabble writing workshop. 

Other Futures Lecture 2020

For the first 45 minutes, I gave a quick (if woefully condensed) introduction to Asian Science fiction, touching on history as well as significant developments and key writers in (greater) China, Japan, India (+ South Asia) and the Philippines (and SEA). 

Afterwards, I shared my writing process for short stories – from how I generate ideas to my tips for publishing. Lastly, we capped it off with a drabble writing workshop for which I gave a critique for those works that were written in English (A drabble is a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length which is much-beloved by Speculative Fiction writers).

You can find a video of the slides I used below. 

Thank you  so much to the Other Futures team for inviting me and especially to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for facilitating, translating and generally making magic happen! 

Best New Singapore Short Stories Volume 4

Very happy to announce that my story “As If We Could Dream Forever” is part of this year’s Best New Singapore Short Stories anthology, edited by the amazing Pooja Nansi (founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg, published by Epigram Books). Set 150 years in the future, this piece deals with the concept of Free Will and using humans as receptacles for AI automation,  teenage angst, and extending National Service to young women. It originally appeared in Volume 17 of the Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore.

If you are in Singapore tomorrow, please come to the launch of BNSS Vol. 4 at the 2019 Singapore Writers Festival. The event will be moderated by award-winning poet and author Cy Rai, editors Pooja Nansi and Jason Erik Lundberg will also engage in conversation with writers like Shreya Acharya, Nidhi Arora any myself about the ingredients that make up a remarkable Singaporean story.

Deets: 9 Nov, Sat 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM at the Arts House Living Room

While you are there please drop by my other events and say hello.

Sat, 9 Nov, 11.00am – 12.00pm, Asian Civilisations Museum, Ngee Ann Auditorium

Yuval Noah Harari theorized that religion is humankind’s greatest invention. But do spiritual belief and faith still have a place in this age of science and technology? This conversation considers the relationships between science fiction, science, faith, hyperreality, and the future of humankind.

Featuring: Chen Qiufan (Stanley Chan), JY Yang, Tony Estrella

Moderator: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Sat, 9 Nov, 5.00pm – 6.00pm, The Arts House, Living Room

When writing about intergalactic empires and space adventures, to what extent do writers need to be mindful of scientific plausibility? Should they abide by space travel rules at all? Three writers discuss why they’ve chosen to set their stories in space and how they’ve imagined an entire interstellar universe.

Featuring: Victor Dixen, Boey Meihan, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Moderator: Jason Erik Lundberg

Read! Fest 2019 – Predicting The Future with Science Fiction

Readfest VRO

As part of the sixth installment of Read! Fest by the National Library Board in Singapore, Senior Artificial Intelligence Researcher Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford and I will be giving a talk about how Science Fiction can predict and inspire real-world discoveries and inventions (or vice-versa).

Here’s the Blurb from Read! Fest 2019:

Programme Synopsis
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke describes a portable flat screen news pad which forecast the iPads that we love and use today years before they were even created. Unconstrained by scientific impossibilities and spurred on by unbounded imagination, science fiction has successfully predicted technologies ranging from earphones and radios to medical drugs like anti-depressants. It continues to be a useful tool to conjure new technologies and explore their impact on society. Join Singaporean based writer Victor Ocampo and Senior Researcher, Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford as they share their perspectives on the genre and their love for sci-fic and ultimately attempt to answer the question: Does Science Fiction Predict or Inspire?

ipaddownload
About the Speakers
Dr Ken Kahn’s interest in science fiction from early childhood eventually led him to join the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab which awarded him a doctorate in 1979. As part of his master’s thesis he built a system that could understand Robert Heinlein’s story All You Zombies – a very convoluted time travel story. He now does research at the University of Oxford and teaches at Yale-NUS.

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is a Singapore-based Filipino writer. He is the author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) and Here be Dragons (Canvas Press, 2015), which won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012. His writing has appeared in many publications including Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Philippines Graphic, Science Fiction World and QLRS, as well as anthologies like Best New Singapore Short Stories and Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction.

This year Read! Fest is anchored on the theme of Voyage. Book a trip with us and discover alternative forms of reading at Read! Fest 2019 programmes as we journey through space and time, only from 22 June – 28 July.

When and Where: Saturday 20 July 2019, 11:00 to 11:30 AM at the Imagination and Possibility Room, The National Library, 1000 Victoria Street, Singapore.

For more details, visit check out the NLB site here.

 

Blessed Are The Hungry – The Comic Book

Fan art is always a wonderful thing. I got a major case of the feels after finding out recently that a Surabaya, Indonesia artist, Aldrich Hezekiah (known on Twitter and DeviantArt as KiaBUGboy) had created a comic book based on my story Blessed Are The Hungry (Apex Magazine Vol. 62, editor Sigrid Ellis). Aldrich is currently pursuing his studies in Digital Art in Singapore. You can see more of his work here.

Thank you so much!

Blessed (1)Blessed (2)Blessed (3)Blessed (4)Blessed (5)Blessed (6)Blessed (7)

It’s interesting how this story is virtually unknown and unread in the Philippines — despite having been translated into Chinese (by one of the translators for Game of Thrones no less) and read by over a million people. It had received great reviews from places as far away as the US, the UK and New Zealand, and has even been used as resource material by a both a High School literature class in Las Vegas, as well as one of the Clarion workshops.

I really need to get my collection published in Manila. But now that VisPrint is gone, does anyone have any suggestions?

Writing Speculative Fiction at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre

Thank you to the INK: Literary Collective of the #Yale-NUS college for inviting me to lead a generative Speculative Fiction workshop last Sunday as part of the Words In Progress: Yale-NUS Manuscript Intensive Weekend 2019. I hope I was able to give all the participants a different perspective on fantastical fiction and how they could use its tropes and techniques to put a new spin on their writing.

The day before that (Saturday) I had joined Singapore Literature Prize Winner Melissa De Silva in doing a critical review of two of the manuscripts submitted to INK.  All in all it was a weekend well spent at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre.