Another Late Post: TILAOS review at Singlitstation

Thank you to #Singlitstation and #AJLow (the enigmatic duo behind the famous Sherlock Sam series) for their awesome write-up of my short story collection The Infinite Library And Other Stories. You can check out the original Instagram post here.

AJ LOW TILAOS Review

You can get your own copy of The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) at #BooksActually‘s online store. They ship internationally! Check them out here.

Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds

A Google alert yesterday informed me that The Infinite Library and Other Stories was one of ten featured books in Olivia Ho’s Straits Times article “Escape Reality Into Magical Worlds“.

Unable to leave home due to circuit breaker measures or even set foot outside your room due to a home quarantine order? Escape your physical confines through the “uniquely portable magic” of books, as author Stephen King puts it. Here are 10 works of fiction that contain worlds within worlds for you to wander.

  1.  “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (1950) by C.S. Lewis
  2.  “Neverwhere” (1996) by Neil Gaiman
  3.  “Sophia and the Utopia Machine” (2018) by Judith Huang
  4.  “His Dark Materials” (1995 to 2000) by Philip Pullman
  5.  “Howl’s Moving Castle” (1986) by Diana Wynne Jones
  6.  “The Star-Touched Queen” (2016) by Roshani Chokshi
  7. “The Night Circus” (2011) by Erin Morgenstern
  8.  “The Eyre Affair” (2001) by Jasper Fforde
  9.  “The Infinite Library and Other Stories” (2017, Math Paper Press) by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
  10.  “Neverending Story (1979, translated 1983) by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim)

Happy to be in such distinguished company. Thank you for including my book!

Math Paper Press recently ran a second printing and you can now get a copy again at Kinokuniya, localbooks.sg and BooksActually.

Between 11 to 13 May, 2020 there will be a sale of all Math Paper Press Titles at BooksActuallyshop.com.  Use the code MPP40 when you shop at the online store to get a 40% discount. They deliver internationally.

ST-books-13May2020 paper

n.b. Thank you also to Jason Erik Lundberg for the PDF scan above.


THE INFINITE LIBRARY AND OTHER STORIES (2017, Math Paper Press)
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

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This fantastical collection of 17 stories alludes to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’s idea of an infinite library that contains every book that could possibly be written.
The stories flit from world to world – from an enigmatic map shop to an uprising on a spaceship and to a Bukit Batok housing block where the inhabitants are being slowly but relentlessly transformed into living mathematical equations.

Other Futures: Intro to Asian SF + My Process of Writing

Other Futures is an annual multidisciplinary festival and exhibition that presents speculative visions of the future based in the Netherlands. The conference brings together makers and thinkers from all over the world who use speculative fiction to imagine and build other futures and invites them to share their visions with visitors from diverse walks of life. Like many cons and festivals this year, Other Futures went online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last April 11, I gave my first-ever remote lecture which was split into three parts – an Introduction to Asian Science Fiction, sharing my writing process and a short Drabble writing workshop. 

Other Futures Lecture 2020

For the first 45 minutes, I gave a quick (if woefully condensed) introduction to Asian Science fiction, touching on history as well as significant developments and key writers in (greater) China, Japan, India (+ South Asia) and the Philippines (and SEA). 

Afterwards, I shared my writing process for short stories – from how I generate ideas to my tips for publishing. Lastly, we capped it off with a drabble writing workshop for which I gave a critique for those works that were written in English (A drabble is a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length which is much-beloved by Speculative Fiction writers).

You can find a video of the slides I used below. 

Thank you  so much to the Other Futures team for inviting me and especially to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for facilitating, translating and generally making magic happen! 

The Infinite Library and Other Stories available again at BooksActuallyShop.com

Support local bookstores this pandemic quarantine period. They are a treasure to local communities and they need your help more than ever.

Iconic Singapore bookshop Bookactually‘s physical store may be temporarily closed, but let’s continue to support them and their three crazy feline deities online.

Things are not looking very bright for the world right now. The daily cycle of bad news and the challenges of being locked away wear out both our bodies and souls. It is precisely at this time that we need to remember that books can offer a great degree of comfort through the welcome distraction of entertainment, and more importantly, through their accumulated knowledge and wisdom.

Moreover, they also offer hope through dark days. Hope that whatever problems facing us in life, there is a book somewhere that will help deal with it. Until the world reaches a new normal, let’s all ride out this difficult period with a book in hand (or two, or ten).

On that note I am pleased to announce that Math Paper Press has made a second impression of my first collection of short stories, The Infinite Library and Other Stories.

Copies of the first printing ran out shortly before the 2019 Singapore Writers Festival and the few paperbacks floating around were going for an astonishing USD$35 (SGD$49) each. I am happy to note that you can now buy a brand new copy at the BooksActuallyShop for much less, at only USD$13.35 (SGD$19). If you buy 3 other books, the three cats who run the store, Cake, Pico and Lemon (and their human assistant Kenny Leck) will provide free shipping in Singapore.

Shortlisted for both the United Kingdom’s 2018 International Rubery Book Award for the best books by independent writers, self-published authors, and books published by independent presses, and by the Asian Books Blog for the 2017 Book of the Lunar Year Award.

Lovingly spun and told with a keen eye on familial relationships, as well as the inexorable desires of humankind, these stories signal that Ocampo may well be becoming the gold standard in South-east Asian speculative fiction.” – Clara Chow, book review in the Singapore Straits Times.

“Fundamentally, The Infinite Library and Other Stories is a book about possibility, limitation, and the boundary between them. In imagining alternative possibilities and stretching them to the point of snapping, Victor Fernando Ocampo engages in an act of profound political importance, aesthetic significance, and philosophical rigor that is a serious pleasure to ingest.” – Deven Philbrick, prose editor for the Seattle Review writing for Singapore Unbound

The ideas that power this collection are not just incredibly imaginative, they also weave a hybrid crossing through magical realism, allegory and science fiction, that ‘synchronicity’ Ocampo mentions in one of his stories.” – Elaine Chew, interview at the Asian Books Blog

Best New Singapore Short Stories Volume 4

Very happy to announce that my story “As If We Could Dream Forever” is part of this year’s Best New Singapore Short Stories anthology, edited by the amazing Pooja Nansi (founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg, published by Epigram Books). Set 150 years in the future, this piece deals with the concept of Free Will and using humans as receptacles for AI automation,  teenage angst, and extending National Service to young women. It originally appeared in Volume 17 of the Quarterly Literature Review of Singapore.

If you are in Singapore tomorrow, please come to the launch of BNSS Vol. 4 at the 2019 Singapore Writers Festival. The event will be moderated by award-winning poet and author Cy Rai, editors Pooja Nansi and Jason Erik Lundberg will also engage in conversation with writers like Shreya Acharya, Nidhi Arora any myself about the ingredients that make up a remarkable Singaporean story.

Deets: 9 Nov, Sat 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM at the Arts House Living Room

While you are there please drop by my other events and say hello.

Sat, 9 Nov, 11.00am – 12.00pm, Asian Civilisations Museum, Ngee Ann Auditorium

Yuval Noah Harari theorized that religion is humankind’s greatest invention. But do spiritual belief and faith still have a place in this age of science and technology? This conversation considers the relationships between science fiction, science, faith, hyperreality, and the future of humankind.

Featuring: Chen Qiufan (Stanley Chan), JY Yang, Tony Estrella

Moderator: Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Sat, 9 Nov, 5.00pm – 6.00pm, The Arts House, Living Room

When writing about intergalactic empires and space adventures, to what extent do writers need to be mindful of scientific plausibility? Should they abide by space travel rules at all? Three writers discuss why they’ve chosen to set their stories in space and how they’ve imagined an entire interstellar universe.

Featuring: Victor Dixen, Boey Meihan, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Moderator: Jason Erik Lundberg

I m d 1 in 10 in Big Echo no.13

Its funny how after you write a story, it’s actually hard to tell whether it will end up in the bin or if it will have publishing legs. Despite taking me close to a year to write, I was so sure my experimental Leetspeak/SMS/Jejemon story I M D 1 In 10 would never find a home because of its challenging use of language. To my surprise, it was picked up first by The Future Fire (July 2014) and then by the anthology Best Singapore Short Stories (2015). Happy to announce that I seem to have completed a hat trick with Big Echo (an online magazine featuring critical Science Fiction stories) featuring it in their 13th issue (devoted to avante-guard Science Fiction works). Thank you to Robert Penner and editor William Squirrell for including it.

Singapore’s Centre for Strategic Futures Recommends The Infinite Library

I was surprised to learn that my book, The Infinite Library And Other Stories, was recently featured by the Centre for Strategic Futures on their Recommended Reads site on LinkedIn. The CSF is a think tank under the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. Thank you so much to Ms Liana Tang, Deputy Head of CSF for her wonderful review!

Infinite CSF Reco

Read! Fest 2019 – Predicting The Future with Science Fiction

Readfest VRO

As part of the sixth installment of Read! Fest by the National Library Board in Singapore, Senior Artificial Intelligence Researcher Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford and I will be giving a talk about how Science Fiction can predict and inspire real-world discoveries and inventions (or vice-versa).

Here’s the Blurb from Read! Fest 2019:

Programme Synopsis
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke describes a portable flat screen news pad which forecast the iPads that we love and use today years before they were even created. Unconstrained by scientific impossibilities and spurred on by unbounded imagination, science fiction has successfully predicted technologies ranging from earphones and radios to medical drugs like anti-depressants. It continues to be a useful tool to conjure new technologies and explore their impact on society. Join Singaporean based writer Victor Ocampo and Senior Researcher, Dr Ken Kahn from the University of Oxford as they share their perspectives on the genre and their love for sci-fic and ultimately attempt to answer the question: Does Science Fiction Predict or Inspire?

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About the Speakers
Dr Ken Kahn’s interest in science fiction from early childhood eventually led him to join the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab which awarded him a doctorate in 1979. As part of his master’s thesis he built a system that could understand Robert Heinlein’s story All You Zombies – a very convoluted time travel story. He now does research at the University of Oxford and teaches at Yale-NUS.

Victor Fernando R. Ocampo is a Singapore-based Filipino writer. He is the author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Math Paper Press, 2017) and Here be Dragons (Canvas Press, 2015), which won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Award in 2012. His writing has appeared in many publications including Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Philippines Graphic, Science Fiction World and QLRS, as well as anthologies like Best New Singapore Short Stories and Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction.

This year Read! Fest is anchored on the theme of Voyage. Book a trip with us and discover alternative forms of reading at Read! Fest 2019 programmes as we journey through space and time, only from 22 June – 28 July.

When and Where: Saturday 20 July 2019, 11:00 to 11:30 AM at the Imagination and Possibility Room, The National Library, 1000 Victoria Street, Singapore.

For more details, visit check out the NLB site here.

 

Writing Speculative Fiction at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre

Thank you to the INK: Literary Collective of the #Yale-NUS college for inviting me to lead a generative Speculative Fiction workshop last Sunday as part of the Words In Progress: Yale-NUS Manuscript Intensive Weekend 2019. I hope I was able to give all the participants a different perspective on fantastical fiction and how they could use its tropes and techniques to put a new spin on their writing.

The day before that (Saturday) I had joined Singapore Literature Prize Winner Melissa De Silva in doing a critical review of two of the manuscripts submitted to INK.  All in all it was a weekend well spent at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre.

Ad Aspera Per Verba: Writing Your First Science Fiction Story

I had great fun last Saturday (2 March) sharing my writing process with class of mostly Junior College and University kids. This lecture/workshop was part of the Singapore Book Council’s Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab series, a year-round program consisting of talks, workshops and mentorships for writers between the ages of 13 and 25. .

The three-hour session was divided into a lecture portion on the history, importance and types of Science Fiction, an interactive session on story-writing basics, then a workshop where the students would produce a one to three sentence story or word-clump*.  The best two of which would win prizes. Interestingly the oldest and the youngest of the participants won first and second prize respectively.

SBC Workshop - 1

Here was my course outline:

1.What is Science Fiction?

2. Developing Science Fiction Ideas

3.Building A Story Structure –

  • Basic Plot Cheat Sheet
  • Character Building
  • Setting, Viewpoints and Tense
  • Creating a Vibrant Narrative Voice

4. Getting Published

  • Marketing your work
  • Can you make money from SF Fiction?

5. Workshop Proper: Writing, Editing and Sharing (One Hour)

6. Q&A

Thank you again to the Singapore Book Council (SBC) for inviting me. Please check out the rest of the Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab. Thank you also to everyone who took time from their Saturday afternoon to participate in our very lively session.

*n.b. This workshop was meant to introduce my writing process for Science Fiction rather than to produce a full short story. The goal was to teach participants how to develop an idea into a concrete flash fiction piece.