“Exit Quiapo Station” in Maximum Volume 2

“Exit Quiapo Station” my Robert Altman inspired story set on a Filipino-run space elevator will be in Maximum Volume 2. Thank you so much to editors Dean Francis Alfar and Sarge Lacuesta!

Like “I m d 1 in 10” (at The Future Fire), this work is also quite experimental in structure, playing with the placement of dialogue and mixing up tenses. “Exit Quiapo Station” explores several themes that could affect us in the near future such as commercial space travel,  the rise of the ultra-super rich, the decoupling of sex from reproduction, the acceptance of non-traditional families, and the socio-biological future of call center agents.

In line with my recent stories, there is a Pinoy mythical element in this “mundane” Sci-Fi piece. This time it’s a witch — a mangkukulam who hails from the “magic market”  outside the old Quiapo church, and a bottle of her gayuma love potion.

Exit Quiapo Station

Space Elevator image c/o of io9.

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 9 is Out!

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 9 has been released on Amazon, Flipreads, Kobo and iTunes. ! This is my second outing with the PSF series (the first, in 2011 was my first published story ever – Resurrection). Thank you to Andrew Drilon, Charles Tan and the good folks of Flipside Publishing.

PSF #9 has my cyberpunk revenge story “Panopticon”. Here’s a short excerpt:

“After a while, I staggered out of the toilet. Night had fallen and I looked around the deserted alley, wondering where I was supposed to go. A bicycle had been propped on a wall just in front of the lavatory entrance. As soon as I stepped towards it, the bike began to flash its lights, illuminating layers of advertising graffiti with a frail white fluorescence. The lights kept blinking until I put my hand on its bamboo handlebars.

A message popped on its digital odometer:

“Thank you for choosing a Shimano Intelligent Bicycle Mr. Salazar. The seat has been automatically adjusted to your height. Your route has already been pre-selected. Please climb aboard and simply pedal.”

I heaved myself up to the gel-padded saddle and kicked off. The bike guided me through the dark and narrow alleys that snaked through the labyrinth of tenements. Everything in New Tundon lay in the shadow of its sole skyscraper, the neon-lit Torre Paraiso.

I passed through the slums like a ghost. Through the yawning windows I saw people leading seemingly normal lives — playing mah-jongg or the card game pusoy dos, eating dinner or simply gathered around their living rooms, plugged into a legion of electronic devices. This was a town of old people, permanently idled; permanently trapped in the amber of unstructured time. Not a single child was in sight.”

PSF9_cover

Cover design by Kevin Roque.

“Infinite Degrees of Freedom” will be in “Science Fiction: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults”

My first YA story “Infinite Degrees of Freedom” was was accepted in “Science Fiction: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults”.

This far-future coming-of-age tale is about a boy trying to bond with his estranged (and distant) father while on a road trip to salvage nano-tech from old battlefields.

This work also features a lesser known Filipino mythical creature called a “Sigben” or “Sigbin” which has been described by various sources as a bloodthirsty Chupacabra-like chimera that’s half dog, half reptile or half goat (more from Wikipedia). Yes, its an obscure Visayan monster in a space opera setting. So sue me.

Before this story I had no idea how hard it actually was to write YA fiction. I’m happy I did and I might write more in the future if people like this.

Thanks once again to editors Dean Francis Alfar and Kenneth Yu ! ‪

Sigben

Short Interview for The Future Fire

Here’s a mini-interview for the editors of #TheFutureFire:

1. What does I m d 1 in 10 mean to you?

“1 m d 1 in 10” is a story about what people (like me) are willing to give up when they move to another country. In essence it explores how migrants trade their identities for things like financial stability, safety and the illusion of greener pastures.

What happens when a future immigration process becomes so brutal and competitive that you have to surrender important things like your control over your children or your own sense of right and wrong just to get in.

I wrote this story as a way of addressing many of my (heretofore unspoken) fears about living where I do now.

2. What attracted you to Speculative Fiction?

Fiction writing is, by definition, “Make Believe”, despite its realist trappings — all of it is speculative to me. I just happen to like mine with space ships and dragons (because space ships and dragons dammit!).

3. When did you learn Latin?

I don’t actually speak Latin.I got interested in it after I fell in love with Umberto Eco’s works. I do, however, collect strange and humorous Latin phrases such as “Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?” (hint: it involves wood chucks and the amount of wood they could conceivably chuck).

4. What are you writing next?

I am currently finishing up another SF Short story that deals with the differences between individual and shared memories. I’ve also started sketching out the outline for a SF novel that I hope to write (….and finish someday).

Dodo Pop

The first post won’t hurt at all

I never thought that I would ever get anything published.

As a kid in Manila all my stories were rejected simply because they were Science Fiction or Fantasy and publishers didn’t want them. The Filipinos that did read the “Literature of the Fantastic” preferred American or European Authors due to a lingering colonial mentality and/or because nothing else was actually available. Save for Japanese cartoons, half-forgotten myths and the occasional meanderings of local realist writers into the surreal, there were no Fantasy, Horror or Science Fiction authors in the Philippines. There were also no venues to read or to submit such stories.

I stopped writing for a very long time. Over the next few years I finished school, left the country and started a family. But I never stopped hoping I would find writers outside the Western mainstream, authors who would write Speculative Fiction with my voice, my experience and my point of view.

Then something magical happened early in the new millennium. Because of the efforts of people like Dean and Nikki Alfar, their Litcritters crew, Paolo Chikiamco, Joey Nacino,  Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Charles Tan, Eliza Victoria, Kenneth Yu and other pioneers,  venues like the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology series, Philippine Genre Stories and Story Philippines started to appear and somehow, in a way I had not expected, Fantastic stories in all of their strange and delicious flavors became accepted, became (comparatively) popular, and most importantly, became respected.

My wife sent one of my stories to Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias without my knowledge (cheeky girl but I love her so).  To my great surprise it ended up in PSF volume 6 and I haven’t stopped writing (or submitting) since.

cover-PSF6

Later on, I discovered that this renaissance of sorts was also happening (with various degrees of success and acceptance) in many parts of the world — including my adopted country of Singapore, where I was lucky enough to become part of Fish Eats Lion (Edited by Jason Erik Lundberg) arguably its first compilation of literary Speculative Fiction.

The Literature of the Fantastic in Southeast Asia is breaking out of the shadows and I am so happy to be part of to this evolving landscape.  I hope you like my stories (particularly the Science Fiction ones) and I would really love it if you dropped me a line at the comments box below or at  vrocampo (at) gmail [dot] com.

Thank you!

Artwork above by Jon Jaylo from the book “Here be Dragons”