Archive for September, 2009

Angry Robot Twitter Contest

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 18 - 2009

Angry Robot Books collected its 500th follower on twitter a few minutes ago, so it’s running a contest:

The Competition
Write a single-tweet short story about a robot – any robot – and Tweet it. The tweet must include @angryrobotbooks so we can see it.

So we can include all our international buddies, the competition will run for 24 hours, after which, a winner will be chosen.

The winner will win… stuff. But, you know – good stuff. A copy of our first 6 books plus a bunch of other really cool things.

The winning tweet will be RT’d and posted here, too (as well as a selection of other good ones).

I saw the tweet announcement at 8:49 p.m. Manila time, so that means it ends on 18 September 2009 at 8:49 p.m. Good luck everyone!

A Spec Fic Guide to the MIBF 09

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 17 - 2009

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If anyone had told me when I was young that I would be getting paid to do coverage of the book fair, I would have laughed in their face—I mean, I’m all for impossible dreams, but that’s a bit too much to ask for isn’t it? Heh, life. My article for the POC should be out either today or tomorrow is up right now and that gives a more general blow-by-blow (you can also see a Day 1 post at Bookmarked!), as well as an aisle-by-aisle break down of significant booths, but for Rocket Kapre readers I thought I’d write a piece that focuses more on our peculiar interests.

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Anvil, of course, had the most number of Philippine Spec Fic books: “Waking the Dead” and “A Time for Dragons” could be found on several racks, since they are 2009 releases. They also had posters/tarps for those two books hung up around the booth. Dean Alfar’s “Kite of the Stars” was a bit harder to find, but  I discovered it near the section with the special signed books (to the left of the booth, if you’re coming from the direction of the MIBF entrance). Marianne Villanueva’s collection, “The Lost Language” was also on display. I found it both on the 2009 rack and, strangely enough, with the books classified as “Essays”—don’t know if that has since been corrected.

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The Spec Fic book I was most looking forward to was the third volume of Trese—it’s not out yet but I did troop down to the Visprint booth to pre-order. Visprint has some directions for how to get to their booth, which would have been helpful for me to read before I went to the book fair–don’t make the same mistake! After you fill up the form and pay your measly 180 bucks, you’ll be given a receipt and the calling card of a person at Visprint you can contact to check on the status of your order. You can also get a four page teaser as well… with our first glimpse of an important figure in Trese’s life. The previous volumes were there as well, plus the rest of Visprint’s excellent komiks and book line (including the books of David Hontiveros). Visprint has a schedule for their author appearances here. Kudos to Visprint on their wall-art… there’s something awesome about seeing Trese and the Kambal sharing space with ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

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Lavie Tidhar Talks About ‘World SF’

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 17 - 2009

Over at SF Signal, Lavie Tidhar–Speculative Fiction author, editor of the Apex Book of World SF (and the one who maintains its companion blog) has an interview where he talks about the Apex Book of World SF and non-Anglophone Speculative Fiction. Here’s an excerpt:

SFS: Why was it important to bring fiction from other countries, even languages into one collection?

LT: To be honest, I’m not sure it’s the right approach! Ashok Banker had a blog post a while back where he argued against this sort of – segregation, I guess would be the word – of writers. If I remember rightly he was talking about the Weird Tales international issue. And I think he’s right! In an ideal world, there won’t be a need for something like this. But of course, we don’t live in an ideal world.

Initially I wanted to do an anthology that would only reprint stories from international writers which had already appeared in the English magazines and so on, and that means either people like Aliette de Bodard or Jetse de Vries – who choose to write in English as a way of reaching a wider audience – or finding those few writers who do get translated, like Zoran Živkovic’ or Mélanie Fazi. But once I’d started, I had the opportunity to include some other material, and of course I took it!

So, for instance, we have two stories from China, because I kept in touch with the people I know there, and I was able to get stories from Han Song and Yang Ping, who are prominent SF writers in China. Or like Tunku Halim, who is a prolific Malaysian horror writer, and he writes in English, but his books are published in Malaysia and therefore are not known to the wider English-reading audience. But I knew of his books, and I was very happy when he gave me a story.

Which I’m not sure answers the question. I’m constantly fascinated with what’s published in other places, and how it might reflect different societies, different approaches to genre, so to me a collection like this seemed natural. Is it important? I think, for the genre to remains vital, yes, it is important. There are some very talented writers out there we never get a chance to read, and to have this kind of dialogue is to open up possibilities. Isn’t SF all about possibilities?

You can check out the rest of the interview here.

Writer’s Wednesday: PSFV Edition

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 16 - 2009

While we’re always keen to post helpful links for writers here at Rocket Kapre, we thought we’d devote the Wednesday of each week to a more concentrated form of writing goodness. Our Writer’s Wednesday posts will contain three parts: the first part will be a set of interesting links for those in search of Internet-enabled inspiration; the second will be a writing tip culled from research or personal knowledge; and the third will be a writing prompt for those who want to exercise those prose muscles.

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WW is an experiment and work-in-progress so please let us know what works for you and what doesn’t in the comments ^_^.

Today’s Writer’s Wednesday is brought to you by… the need to cram submissions for Philippine Speculative Fiction V. Yes folks you officially have less than a month to go so those “oh, I’ve got plenty of time” excuses don’t hold water anymore.

Stuck for ideas? Never fear, Writer’s Wednesday is here!

Baiting the Muse (LINKS):

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On the Far Shore: Interview with Crystal Koo

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 16 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here. Today we speak with Crystal Koo, author of  “Wildwater.”

Tell us a bit about your story “Wildwater”:

As far as theme goes, it’s about an emigre who returns to his homeland with an misdirected sense of responsibility and an inferiority complex regarding his own people which goes too far.

How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?

I check on Dean Alfar and Joey Nacino’s blogs and they had posted calls for submissions.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?

Plenty of them. The first serious one I had written was way back in high school, in sword-and-sorcery, Middle-Earth fashion complete with mythologies and family trees and kingdoms that rose and fell; that was the only kind of fantasy I knew how to write then and I wrote those kinds of stories in a series. Since then I’ve been focusing on other kinds of fantasy writing as well but I still regularly write secondary-world stories, though I’ve moved away from the sword-and-sorcery genre.

I think we read the same kinds of books/series when we were young then. Do you think you’ll ever revisit those earlier works, spruce them up with your knew writer-ly skills and send them out? I’d love to read a Filipino made sword and sorcery series myself.

Haha, if I ever do revisit them, I’d have to do a complete overhaul. They were all very derivative of Lord of the Rings and Greek mythology.

How long did it take you to write the story?

It took me around a week to write and edit the story into a first “final” draft. Then I left it alone for a few months and tinkered with it here and there afterward.

What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?

Lots, actually. One is that the story is structured as a letter addressed to members in a court of law and is clearly meant to be
persuasive, which made the story easier to write because of the clear direction. The other is that the protagonist comes from a race of “gilled” humans – like the sort that pops up once in a while in provincial gossip back home in the Philippines, along with babies born with webbed feet. I also enjoyed writing about the orinu, which I imagined to be scaly killer whales, and the orinu trade.

How in-depth do you develop a secondary world before you tell a story in it? Do you flesh out a history and a culture first before you start on characters and plot, or does the world grow from what you need to tell a particular story?

It grows from what I need to tell the story. Otherwise I get too caught up in inventing histories and cultures that the plot finds itself all of a sudden in the backseat, which I try to avoid.

What aspect did you find most difficult?

Cooking up a credible way [Ed. Note: spoiler deleted for your safety dear reader] without making it overly melodramatic.

Were there any particular sources of inspiration for your story?

I wrote the story in 2007, when I was still studying in Sydney, and the concept of studying abroad as a first step to immigration was a constant preoccupation for me because Australia is such a hotspot for Asians who are looking to do that sort of thing, particularly in my university, hence the theme. Stylistically, I’d say maybe Ursula K. Le Guin.

Are you working on any new stories or projects now?

Yes. I’m in the middle of revising a short story called “The Startbox” for the Usok e-zine [Ed. Note: Watch for it this October folks, here at Rocket Kapre], and also a short story called “The Likeness of God” which I’ll be sending out to the market soon in hopes of a possible publication. I’m also working on a collaboration for a second play to be performed onstage in Hong Kong.

If you could write in a secondary world created by another (literary, television etc.), which world would that be? What kind of story would you write? (‘cors if you’ve actually written secondary world fanfic, feel free to plug it here ^_^)

As a teenager, I wrote Lord of the Rings fanfics and a boatload of anime fanfics that included the secondary worlds of Vandread, Gensoumaden Saiyuki, and (I’m clearly not holding back here) Akazukin Chacha, as well as stories that were blatant rip-offs of Star Wars. I haven’t written fanfics for a while, but I’d probably enjoy writing in Neil Gaiman’s The Dreaming from the Sandman series, if that can count as secondary despite its connections with the primary world.

Vandread! OK, I totally need to search out your fanfics now. One final, very important question then: Dita, Meia or Jura (If you answer Misty I shall be forced to kill you)?*

So unfair, that’s not a very representative range of choices! Very well, Meia then, though I still think she broods more than necessary.

Thanks for agreeing to do the interview Crystal! You can find a list of Crystal’s published works, including some that are available online, on her Author’s page here at Rocket Kapre.

*Ed. Note: These are the lead female characters of the Vandread anime. Sorry guys, I just had to ask.*

Komikon Kontenders: Best Web Comic

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 15 - 2009

Voting for the 2009 Komikon Awards ends in less than a week, on 20 September 2009, and while it might be hard to scrounge up copies of all the nominated physical komiks, the magic of the Internet means that it’s easy for prospective voters to bone up on the nominees in at least one category: Best Webcomic. (Webkomik?)

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I thought I’d do my part to promote voter education (practice for 2010 maybe?)–especially since all of the nominees have some Speculative Fiction elements–so here are links to the nominees, as well as some sample panels, because we’re all such suckers for good visuals. I’m also including a bit of personal analysis for each, but please don’t take my word for the quality of the works–just click on the links and discover these worthy kontenders for yourselves. (Yes, that was an intentional misspelling in the post title guys ;) )

Warning though: Kubori Strips for the Soul are NSFW and NSF-Minors, whether or not you’re at work.

What the Cigarette Said by Andrew Drilon

Language: English

Speculative Elements: Without spoilng anything… Philippine mythology and folklore is present. And oh, a talking cigarette.

Andrew is, as might be obvious from some of the answers in our first Rocket Round Table, one of the most admired storytellers in the country today, whether the medium be prose or komiks, since he’s as adept with words as he is with art. When he combines those two talents, as he does in “What the Cigarette Said”, the effect can be magical: Andrew uses words and images to give a dream-like quality to a surreal love story. One advantage this has over the other nominees is that WTCS is not a serial webcomic but a 12 page mini-comic that tells a complete story. Even if you’ve already voted or have no interest in the awards, taking the time out to read this comic will be minutes well spent.

By Moon Alone by Hai Ibardolaza

Language: English

Speculative Elements: Magic, demons, prophecies, and an entire secondary world. (Or is it?)

Hai is another of that rare creative breed who has mastery of both prose and art. It is the latter that will first strike you however, and how–I can honestly say that Hai is one of my favorite artists, local or foreign, webcomic or no. The way he portrays emotion on a character’s face, the vivid aesthetics of his coloring, the splendor of his set pieces… and when he does his one panel “splash” pages… wow. (His recent strips showing a city under siege by giants are some of his best yet.) While the art lures you in though, it’s the writing that elevates By Moon Alone from “pretty pictures” to “awesome comic”–there is a wounded-ness to his main characters, a sense of impending tragedy that makes me read each new strip with a mixture of excitement and dread. At this point there’s no big “payoff” yet–I get the feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface of this story–but what’s there is mesmerizing.

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Manila Int’l Bookfair Schedule

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 14 - 2009

EDIT: Note that the Book Fair schedule has had some changes since this was posted–the latest can be found at the Book Fair site.

Hey there book lovers, it’s that time of the year again… You know the one, where you feel your hearts lighten with delight–while your wallets bleed money.

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Yes, it’s the Manila International Bookfair starts this week, this Wednesday to be exact. While we’ve already mentioned the Hunger Games LARP, Bookmarked! has posted a full schedule of events. You know that an event will be educational when you can learn things just by reading it’s schedule:

  • Goodwill has a website.
  • “Cocktails for English Proficiency”–must be an awesome way to learn the language.
  • There is such a thing as a “Temporary Hairspray Demonstration Contest.”

As for me, I’ll probably try to catch the Hunger Games LARP and attend the Fandoms and Literature discussion on Sunday. Too bad I won’t be able to attend Bookselling 101 or the Star Wars Costume Making panel. What about the rest of you?

Sagip Children’s Story Competition

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 12 - 2009

Sagip Call for Entries

The Outlooke Pointe Foundation, together with the PTC-CSJ Foundation, is launching theSAGIP Children’s Storybook Writing Contest. What they are looking for is a 500-750 word kids’ story, on the theme “SAVING OUR SEAS”. Just the words, not the drawings–the winning entry will be illustrated by one of their in-house artist-advocates. Just type it up in a .doc file (Surname.Firstname.doc) and shoot it (along with the application form) over to info@opf.org

The winning book will be published and donated to the various public schools around the Philippines, to enhance their English Literacy Program, and will also be sold exclusively at POWERBOOKS. So do it for the children eh? And if you need more incentive: how does a grand prize of PHP40,000 sound? Well, let’s say a rate of around PHP55 per word isn’t shabby at all.

Deadline for submissions is November 30, 2009. They say that they’ll announce the winners the first week of December. Heh. Good luck with that.

More details can be found at the contest announcement here. Thanks to Dominique for the tip!

10 Questions on 10 Stories: Yvette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 11 - 2009

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Yvette Tan’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in so many venues online and offline that I truly believe she could put together an entire magazine all by her self. Her stories have been recognized by the Palanca Awards, the Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards and the 2008 Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Anthology. Her first short story collection, “Waking the Dead,” was released just last month to stellar reviews, and when she agreed to this interview, I decided to ask her one question for each of the stories.

The Child Abandoned: Have you ever attended the Feast of the Black Nazarene?

[Note: You can see a flash photo-essay of the Feast (with audio) at the GMA News website.]

The nearest I’ve gotten to the feast is watching it on TV. There’s something raw about it, something that transcends time. Sure, the celebrants are all wearing t-shirts and pants and have cellphones (which, for their sake, I hope they left at home), but you get the feeling that they could be wearing pelts. They have that sort of energy. People have gotten killed during the festival and yet it endures, as glorious as ever. Right now, I don’t think I want to attend the festival for real (mostly because my mom would have a conniption if she found out) but should I get a chance to do so, I would not say no.

The Bridge: You’ve met quite a few celebrities haven’t you? Which meeting left you the most star struck?

It’s tough to choose just one because I’ve interviewed so many interesting people. If my high school self saw me now, she would be squealing with delight. Here are the first 3 that comes to mind:

Pilita Corrales - One of the most amazing people I have met. She used to be a big star, and still is in some parts of the world. Did you know they named a street after her in Sidney? An interview consists of you sitting down and her telling you about her life story in fascinating detail.

Gary Barlow - One of the guys from the now defunct Take That. He called me at my house. I took the call in my parents room like a giggly teenager. He was very nice. Answered all questions about himself, his music, his family. Knows how to make fun of himself, too. The thing with a lot of foreign artists is that they take themselves too seriously, refuse to answer questions that don’t have to do with whatever it is they’re promoting at the time. Gary wasn’t like that.

Imelda Marcos - I didn’t really interview her but I got the chance to interact with her for the Terno episode of the first season of Project Runway Philippines. What a fascinating woman! She revolutionized the terno, taking it from a bulky three-piece into the streamlined one piece that is our national costume today. She my not have come off as nice in “The Bridge” but really, the story is more a tribute than anything else. If I like you enough, I’m going to make you a monster.

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Hunger Games LARP at the Book Fair

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 10 - 2009

I’ve received word from the New Worlds Alliance that they are looking for interested participants for a LARP (Live-Action Role Playing Game) based on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games novel. NWA is looking for 12 Teams composed of 1 boy and 1 girl aged 13 years old and above, who are fans of Suzanne Collins’ books or young adult literature in general, and who believe that they have what it takes to win the NWA’s version of the Tournament from the Hunger Games novel, which will take place at the 2009 Manila International Book Fair, September 20, 1:00pm, at the SMX (SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City). The LARP is also a contest, with the winning pair netting some cool prizes from Scholastic, Inc. (Philippines), and National Book Store.

The idea of using a LARP contest to promote a book sounds like a lot of fun (too bad I don’t qualify as “teen-looking”), and judging by the rules, the organizers seem to be taking pains to ensure the LARP is anchored firmly in the novel (having 12 teams of “Tributes” representing the 12 Districts of Panem) which speaks of a love of the source material that bodes well for fans. Even for non-participants, it seems like an event that will prove to be entertaining viewing, and I fully intend to drop by between Bookfair sorties.

Haven’t read the Hunger Games myself, but it is high on my list, as I have it on good authority that it will rock my world. The second book, “Catching Fire” was just released a few days ago, so now might be a good time to grab a copy of this excellent new series.

Interested parties can head over to NWA for details.

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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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