Archive for August, 2009

ROCKET KAPRE: THE LONG “WHY”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 27 - 2009

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No, this isn’t going to be about why I chose the name “Rocket Kapre”—that much is simple enough:  I wanted something that was distinctively Spec Fic and distinctively Filipino, and the instant I put “Rocket” and “Kapre” together, the logo sprung into my brain, fully formed. I don’t believe in Fate, but I do believe in Occam’s Razor.

This very first (original) post is going to be about why I’m putting Rocket Kapre up in the first place, why I want to do this—need to do this—before I can do anything else with my life. Those of you allergic to personal reflection or sentiment can rest assured that I will make an effort to keep both out of future posts, but as this is the inaugural post for Rocket Kapre, I feel that I may be allowed a bit of leeway. As saying goes: “ang taong ‘di lumilingon sa pinanggalingan ay ‘di makakarating sa paroroonan.” [One who does not look back at where he/she has come from will never reach his/her destination.]

After I resigned from my position at the law firm, many of my friends and acquaintances assumed that I had done so to pursue my childhood dream to be a writer. While I appreciated their support and good intentions, their assumption was wrong on two levels: first, while I would certainly work on my writing, I was resigning to become an Editor-Publisher, not a writer; and second, becoming a writer had never been a childhood dream. When I was a child I dreamnt of being an indomitable lawyer, or a tireless Ombudsman, or even a valiant policeman (Mom almost had a heart attack). On evenings where I allowed my fancy to really fly free, I allowed myself to believe I could be President of the Philippines.

But a published writer? Never.

It was not that I didn’t love stories—I was a voracious, insatiable reader. When I was a child, I trawled through my Mom’s books indiscriminately, reading everything from religious texts to autobiographies to a very educational parenting guide which dealt with the many tricks children use to manipulate their parents (needless to say, this book was promptly reverse-engineered to suit my nefarious six year old purposes). Once I read my first genre novel though—a secondary world fantasy entitled “The Sleeping Dragon” by Joel Rosenberg—there was no turning back for me:  from that point on, Science Fiction and Fantasy were my drugs of choice.

So why didn’t I dream of being a genre writer? Because when I was a child it simply was not possible.

After all, for young Pao, who could properly be called “genre writers”? David Eddings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, Tad Williams… these were the authors who filled the SFF store shelves of my childhood, and all the books that bore their embossed names came from the United States (or, if I’d bought the book in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom). Hell, that could be said about most of the non-genre books as well, with locally authored books being lumped together under the aggressively unhelpful category of “Filipiniana” (unless, of course, they were Tagalog Romances). No one was publishing genre novels (I was interested in no other form of fiction) locally, and I had been dead set against migration for as long as I could remember so that was not an option. So I turned my attention to more attainable dreams, such as the Presidency of the Republic, for even as a child I could see that the “genre author” door was closed to me because of where I had been born, and would stay closed because of where I chose to remain.

That was then. Today I say that door is open—and if it isn’t, it’s time we broke it down.

The Internet allows for instantaneous international delivery of content. Computers allow people access to this content when they want it, how they want it. Stories are just another form of content, and if going digital allows us to reach a wider audience, then I say we go for it. We’ve got great stories here, stories that no one else can tell, and I don’t see why we should let little things like geography get in between readers and a great story.

Of course, some writers could care less about the size of their readership, intent instead on crafting that perfect story to embody their artistic vision. Yet wouldn’t it be great if hundreds of thousands of people around the world could share that vision? Wouldn’t it be great if, because enough people bought your books, you could spend your days doing nothing but writing?

Some dream huh? But it’s a dream I want Filipino children (in body and in spirit) to have, and I want to help make those dreams a reality… because it is not the impossibilities that excite me, that keep me awake at night.

It’s the possibilities. And today, those are endless.

Komikon Awards 2009: Nominees and Voting

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 8 - 2009

The Komikon (non-summer edition), which will take place in October 2009, has recently released its list of nominees for this year’s Komikon Awards.

The voting period will be from August 10 to September 20, 2009. While some online voting mechanism is planned, physical voting ballots will be available in the following stores:

  • Comic Odyssey (a) Robinson’s Place, Level 3 Ermita,Manila; (b) Robinson’s Galleria, Level 3 Expansion Mall,Edsa cor. Ortigas
  • Comic Quest (a) Lower Ground Floor Bldg. A, SM Megamall; (b)2nd Floor Main Bldg., SM City North Edsa

Congrats to all the nominees! The list of nominees is a bit long, so you can find it after the cut. Good luck with the Comic Aid award guys… Lots of deserving folk there.

Note: the lists and relevant links can be found here and here.

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Yu, Kenneth

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 8 - 2009

Whether he admits it or not, Kyu (as he is fondly known) is one of the most prominent figures in Philippine Speculative Fiction. A graduate of Xavier School and the Ateneo de Manila, Kyu is a tennis aficionado and literacy advocate. He’s the publisher and editor of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, and his fiction has been published in The Town Drunk, the Philippine Graphic and AlienSkin magazine. The PGS blog is a daily staple for anyone interested in Philippine Spec Fic.

Koo, Crystal

Posted by JeremyT On August - 6 - 2009

Crystal Gail Shangkuan Koo was born and bred in the Philippines, where she studied for a BA in English Literature. After spending a year in Beijing studying Mandarin, she went to Sydney for a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. In 2007, she won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature for her short story “Benito Salazar’s Last Creation.” Currently an English lecturer at the College of International Education of Hong Kong Baptist University, she has been published online and in print in various international venues. Her play, “The Foundling”, was performed in Hong Kong by Burnt Mango Theatre Productions in 2009. She will have a short story in the anthology “The Dragon and the Stars” coming out in 2010 from DAW books.

Locus Reviews PSFIV and A Time for Dragons

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 4 - 2009

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The July 2009 issue of Locus, the U.S. magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, carried a pleasant surprise for fans of Philippine speculative fiction: a review of not one, but two local anthologies, namely “Philippine Speculative Fiction IV” and “A Time for Dragons” by Rich Horton.

The two reviews are not available online, but with the help of relatives I was able to order a copy (which became a less arduous  task when I called off the bookstore hunt after I learned that Locus wasn’t being sold in brick-and-mortar stores @_@). I just got my hands on it this weekend and thought I’d share some of the contents of the review, given the fact that an issue of Locus can be a tad difficult to chase down.

In his dual review, Mr. Horton stated that “[i]n feel these two books are entirely consistent with similar products from the American and English small press” and the fact that many stories are set in the Philippines makes these stories “just unfamiliar enough to most readers to pique additional interest.”

Mr. Horton went on to name a few of his favorites from each anthology, which I’ll list here along with any comment he might have had that didn’t involve a summary of the story. Note that some of the praise he had for these stories was tempered by less positive comments, usually having to do with predictability, but since he did cite them as the best stories, I’m probably safe in assuming that the good he saw in each outweighed the bad.

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

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