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).
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”.
Michelle introducing Christina.
Shortly after Christina talked about pontianaks, this ghostly bride appeared above us.
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).
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.
Lontar No. 6 (Founding Editor Jason Erik Lundberg; Poetry Editor Kristine Ong Muslim and Comics Editor Adan Jimenez; published by Epigram) became available in print (from Kinokuniya and directly from Epigram Books) from last 27 April, while the DRM-free ebook is available from Weightless Books.
It features works from Ken Liu, Eka Kurniawan, J Y Yang, Jennifer Anne Champion, Ng Yi-Sheng, comics from Budjette Tan, Alex Arellano & Kajo Baldisimo, as well as some amazing speculative poetry from Jonel Abellanosa, Ang Si Min, Russ Hoe, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Christina Sng, Sokunthary Svay, Krishna Udayasankar, Brendan Walsh and Marco Yan.
Also part of this volume is my Filipino space-opera/family drama “Brother to Space, Sister to Time” which inspired the cover illustration by Sarah and Schooling.
Check out my Pinterest board for this story.
Lontar is the only publication that specializes in Speculative Fiction from and about Southeast Asia. It has published work from some of the finest writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Poetry. Please consider a subscription (from Weightless, link above) or supporting them on Patreon.
“A relatively new publication, LONTAR nonetheless publishes high-quality works by award-winning authors. Diverse and under-represented characters and settings are a mainstay of LONTAR‘s fiction, opening the genre to fresh themes and voices, and introducing readers to the rich culture and atmosphere of Southeast Asia.” —Tangent Online