Lontar Retrospective at #SWF2018

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).

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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”.

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Michelle introducing Christina.

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Shortly after Christina talked about pontianaks, this ghostly bride appeared above us.

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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).

My Schedule for the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival

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The 2018 Singapore Writers Festival is just around the corner.  As both a moderator and a featured writer, I have a lot more events this year than in 2017. Please drop by and say hello.

SCHEDULE

03 Nov, Saturday 8.00pm – 9.30pm (90 minutes) – Break Out: A Gala Reading

  • What: Reading
  • Venue: The Arts House, Gallery II
  • Featuring: Adam Aitken, Maria Galina, Law Lok Man, Louise 羅樂敏, Nina McConigley, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Sithuraj Ponraj, Yoko Tawada
  • Moderator: TBC

How does one stay true to one’s identity even as he/she crosses multiple cultures, languages and time zones? Is a person’s voice to be discovered, or a continuum of incremental influences? Whether whipping up new speculative realms or switching between linguistic codes, these writers exemplify the magpie sensibility. Don’t miss this special reading showcasing imaginative wordsmiths.


04 Nov, Sunday 7.00pm – 8.00pm (60 Minutes) – The Familiar and the Alien

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: The Arts House, Chamber
  • Featuring: Rachel Heng, Kass Morgan, Krishna Udayasankar
  • Moderator: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

In imagining the future or an alternative reality, a writer must achieve resonance through setting and characterisation. How does one draw in the reader with enough known elements from the real world in order to make it relatable? Kass Morgan creates a dystopic series where Earth has been devastated by a nuclear apocalypse; Rachel Heng sets her novel in a near future in New York City where people can live for 300 years; and Krishna Udayasankar, a Singapore-based Indian author known for her modern retelling of Mahabharata through the novels Govinda, Kaurava and Kurukshetra.


05 Nov, Monday 8.30pm – 9.30pm (60 Minutes) – The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern Science

  • What: Classroom Series
  • Venue: The ArtsHouse, Living Room
  • Featuring: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

What were the science fiction works that came before modern science? Published in 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been argued to be the first sci-fi novel. Since then, authors such as Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke have imagined what science could achieve through their writing. In this Classroom Talk, sci-fi author Victor Fernando R. Ocampo explores the relationship between literature and the sciences, and how science fiction has actually inspired, and continues to inspire, the science of today.


08 Nov, Thursday 7:30pm – 8:30 (60 minutes) – LONTAR Retrospective

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: SWF Bookstore
  • Featuring: Jason Erik Lundberg, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Christina Sng
    Moderator: Michelle Martin

BooksActually presents LONTAR Retrospective with Jason Erik Lundberg, Christina Sng, Victor Ocampo.


10 Nov, Saturday 10.30am – 11.30am (60 minutes) – Speculative Fiction as Moral Compass

  • What: Panel Discussion
  • Venue: The ArtsHouse, Blue Room
  • Featuring: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Rachel Heng, Nuraliah Norasid
  • Moderator: Khoo Sim Eng

From pursuing immortality to eradicating marginalization, speculative fiction reveals the deepest desires of humankind. How can the genre prompt readers to assess humanity’s moral progress, and to rethink what could be right or wrong? This panel brings together authors across science fiction and fantasy to discuss the potentialities of the genre.


11 Nov, Sunday 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM (90minutes) – Chicken Rice and Adobo: What We Love about the Philippines and Singapore

  • What: Reading and Panel Discussion
  • Venue: HideOut@Funan Showsuite, Junction of Hill Street and High Street. Free Event
  • Featuring: Aaron Lee, Claire Betita de Guzman, Lawrence Ypil, Heng Siok Tian, Felix Cheong and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  • Moderator: Eric Tinsay Valles

Description:
Increased trade and cultural exchanges between Singapore and the Philippines have led to shared experiences and stories in prose and poetry. This session continues a literary dialogue that has spawned joint anthologies and readings. Listen to the featured writers read excerpts of their works and join in the fellowship centered on what we love such as comfort food, cultural diversity and a good story.


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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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Exceedingly Late Post: The 2017 Singapore Writer’s Festival Wrap-up

It’s almost time for the 2018 Writer’s Festival and I realize that I had never posted my pictures from last year’s run.

Top to bottom, left to right: (1) SWF Opening, (2) Outside the festival grounds, (3) Watching a panels while seated on LKY’s chair,  (4) With Junot Diaz, (5) “Writing between Genre Lines” panel with Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé (moderator), Aliette de Bodard, Jason Erik Lundberg and O Thiam Chin, (6) With Dean Alfar, (7) With Lavie Tidhar, (8) Crab dinner with Aliette, Jason, Nikki, Pat and Dean, (9) Peranakan lunch with Ken Liu, and (10) birthday dinner with Aliette.

Here are some pictures from my panels:

  • The Real Science in Science Fiction – with Shelly Bryant, Kevin Martens Wong, and Dave Chua moderating
    5 Nov, Sun 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    The Arts House, Living Room
  • A Brave New World: Speculative Fiction in Singapore – with Jon Gresham, Christina Sng , and Gene Tan moderating
    6 Nov, Mon 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    The Arts House, Chamber

Lastly, check out the special packaging for my book The Infinite Library and Other Stories  which was only available at the festival venue.

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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 SWF 2017 Schedule

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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:

Lastly Math Paper press will be launching my book The Infinite Library and Other Stories along with The Story of Number Nine by Josiah Ng. I hope to see you all there!

New Titles by Math Paper Press III:
The Story of Number Nine and The Infinite Library
7 Nov Tue 8.30pm – 9.30pm
Gallery II, The Arts House                                                                                                   (Free Event)

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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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