The Familiar and The Alien

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I greatly enjoyed moderating “The Familiar And The Alien” panel last Sunday, November 4. My amazing speakers included Rachel Heng whose novel “Suicide Club” is set in a near future in New York City where people can live for 300 years; Krishna Udayasankar, a Singapore-based Indian author known for her modern retelling of Mahabharata through her Aryavartha Chronicles; and Kass Morgan, author of “The 100” series (the basis of the eponymous CW TV show).

We discussed how it was the role of writers to introduce readers to new worlds and experiences. But how do we make stories believable without loosing the wonder of the unfamiliar, or wandering into exoticizing?

Thank you #SingaporeWritersFestival 2018; panelists Rachel, Kris and Kass; and everyone who attended the event!

Breakout: A Gala Reading at the #SWF2018

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Thank you to everyone who attended “Breakout: A Gala Reading” at the Singapore Writers Festival last Saturday, (November 3), and especially to our moderator Stephanie Dogfoot.

It was such a great privilege to be able to share my work in the company of literary luminaries such as Australian poet Adam Aitken; Russian poet and Science Fiction Author Maria Galina; Hong Kong poet and editor of Fleurs des Lettres Law Lok Man, Louise 羅樂敏;  PEN Open Book Award-winning author Nina McConigley from Wyoming in the United States; Sithuraj Ponraj, who won the Singapore Literature Prize for Tamil Fiction; and most especially the magisterial Yoko Tawada who has won numerous Japanese and German literary awards including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, the Noma Literary Prize, the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature, the Gunzo Prize for New Writers, the Goethe Medal, and the Kleist Prize.

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Our excellent moderator Stephanie Dogfoot

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Isabella with Yoko Tawada

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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.


SWF 2018

The Infinite Library And Other Stories Shortlisted For The 2018 Rubery Award

My book, The Infinite Library And Other Stories has made it to the official shortlist of this year’s prestigious Rubery Awards, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the Booker Prize for independent, self-published and small press publications.

Victor R. Ocampo, a Filipino living in Singapore, is a clever, skilled writer. His short stories are subtle and demanding, hovering in the space between literary fiction, experimental fiction and cyberpunk.”

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Where Her Shawl Ends And Her Cat Begins

Deven Philbrick, a writer, essayist and prose editor for the Seattle Review covers “The Infinite Library And Other Stories” for Singapore Unbound:

The distinction between literary and genre fiction has been the topic of much debate in recent years. How the distinction ought to be made and whether the distinction is ultimately useful at all are questions with which many people interested in contemporary fiction are deeply engaged. Although a consensus on the answers certainly does not exist, one significant result of the questions having been posed is a reluctance to dismiss universally so-called genre writers as peddlers of formulaic fictions designed for quick consumption and simple, mass appeal. Science-fiction, for example, is now more than ever taken seriously as literary art. Its potential for imagining alternative realities, for conceiving of other possibilities for organizing a world, makes it a genre with the capacity for profound philosophic investigation. Writers like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Thomas Disch, and Joanna Russ are increasingly accepted as towering figures of English-language letters. Victor Fernando Ocampo, author of The Infinite Library and Other Stories, has written a book that puts him among their rank.

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. ”

I am so honored and thrilled to get this killer review. I was both stunned and humbled after reading it. You can read the whole review here: Where Her Shawl Ends And Her Cat Begins (which is a line from The Old Blue Notebook, a story which first appeared in Daily Science Fiction).

Thank you to Deven and to Singapore Unbound editor Jee Leong Koh!

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Three Quick Reviews of The Infinite Library And Other Stories

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 .

If you like her work please follow her on –                                                                      Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rachel.tan.shiying
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/cobravirus/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rachel_tan
Tumblr – https://www.tumblr.com/blog/rachelsnowreading

Rachel Reads Review

(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!

Screenshot_20181020-180607_Facebook(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.

BooksActually Review

You can get copies of my book delivered to you by BooksActually here.

The Straits Times: Debut collection crammed with ideas

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

So my little book The Infinite Library and Other Stories got a really great review from the Straits Times.  You can read it online here.

This represents one of the major milestones of my writing journey. My very first post on this blog was “I never thought that I would ever get anything published.’ Now I have somehow managed to produce two books — and one of them has been reviewed favorably on Singapore’s major broadsheet.

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Thank you to fellow author Clara Chow and the editors of the Straits Times.