The landmark anthology Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction collected the best original speculative fiction written in Singapore in or around 2012. It was the first local anthology that treated the literature of the fantastic as bona fide literary work, instead of simply just genre. Edited by Jason Erik Lundberg, this book included stories by Ng Yi-Sheng, Neon Yang, Daryl Yam and Shelly Bryant, who would all become leading lights in the APAC Spec Fic sphere, as well as works by mainstream fictionists who were not generally known for fantastical writing such as Grace Chia, Dave Chua, Noelle de Jesus, Isa Kamari, and Cyril Wong.
It’s been ten years since the original FEL and Jason has commissioned a follow-up anthology. I am very happy to be part of both books but it’s also a bit of a shock to realize that I’ve been getting published for so long. In my mind I am still a new writer struggling to get stories written and published (when I am not doing my day-job or house work, that is).
Congratulations to our evergreen editor Jason Erik Lundberg and to everyone on the new antho’s TOC. I can’t wait to read these new stories!
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.
The Singapore Writers Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and I am happy to be part of an event that includes such literary and genre heavy weights such as Gemino Abad, Dean Alfar, Simon Armitage, Aliette de Bodard, Shelly Bryant, Junot Diaz, Ken Liu, Marjorie Liu, Isa Kamari, Jason Erik Lundberg, Ng Yi-Sheng, Tony Parsons, Edwin Thumboo , Cyril Wong and JY Yang to name just a few.
The festival’s theme this year is the Tamil word அரம் (Aram) whose meaning embodies goodness, equity and justice. Used extensively in older Tamil literature, it is a word has rich connotation and an ideal of goodness and generosity for humanity to aspire to. It is today a quality much needed in our increasingly complex and difficult world.
Some of the best Science Fiction stories also share this normative, Utopian vision and I hope to be able to talk about it in my panels. You can find my SWF schedule here: