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!
Singaporean writers, artists, and thinkers, living in Singapore and abroad were asked by the editors of Singapore Unbound for their favorite read of the year. Thank you to Singapore Literature Prize winner Ng Yi-Sheng for selecting my book.
Ng Yi-Sheng, poet, playwright, and fictionist. The Infinite Library and Other Stories by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2017). This may be the best collection of spec fic stories I’ve ever read by a Singapore-based author. The tales are wonderfully baroque, from a steampunk vision of Filipino national hero José Rizal at a naturist colony to a post-apocalyptic tale of a man cultivating crops and a digital transmitter in the world’s last library. Ocampo takes risks with form—stories are told with multiple endings, in the form of archaeological surveys and in SMS-speak—but manages to make all his tales share a single universe, with the same immortal characters and references (including the eponymous library) popping up in different plots. (I’m also intrigued by how Ocampo complicates our conceptions of Singaporean literature: he began writing in Singapore and is active in the local literary scene, but his fiction reflects his background as a cosmopolitan citizen of the Philippines. He’s got a south-south biculturalism thing going on, and it’s awesome.)
Coincidentally, my favorite Singaporean book of 2018 is Yi-Sheng’s exquisitely surreal Lion City Stories (Epigram, 2018).
A great big ‘Thank you!” to everyone who has read my book and and an even bigger shout-out to those who have sent me kind words over social media — especially to the three excellent folks below who took the time to write me reviews:
(1) First there is vlogger Rachel Tan who does her Rachel’s Now Reading reviews on Youtube. You can check out here video here .
(2) I am a big fan of Ng Yi-Sheng‘s work, whether it be his poetry, stories, performances or his important advocacy work for LGBTQ issues. Thank you for spending some time to read my stories!
(3) Lastly, thank you to the anonymous BooksActually Elf that did the review for “The Infinite Library And Other Stories”. You can read it here.
You can get copies of my book delivered to you by BooksActually here.
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:
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.
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