A Spec Fic Guide to the MIBF 09

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 17 - 2009

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.


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.


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.


Speaking of komiks, it’s not strictly Spec Fic (at least based on what I could see from the plot summary) but I have to say that Vibal’s El Indio looks fantastic–if you won’t take my word for it, take Gerry Alanguilan’s. If only I had more cash… maybe next time.

UST Press had a lot of books that should interest Filipino Spec Fic writers: aside from copies of A Different Voice”, there were excellent resource books on Philippine folklore–the one I snagged is entitled “Epics and Ballads of Lam-Ang’s Land & People”–just in time for my planned Mythology Class re-read! There was also a slim volume collecting folk-wisdom from across the country but it was too pricey for me.

Over at UP Press I snagged a copy of Karl de Mesa’s “Damaged People: Tales of the Gothic Punk”–a friend reminded me that I had yet to pick that up. I also saw copies of Michael Tan’s “Revisiting Usog, Pasma, Kulam” which I highly recommend to anyone interested in traditional Philippine magic and healing practices.

At the Ateneo Press I snagged “Science Solitaire” by science writer Maria Isabel Garcia, a friend to the site. I didn’t see a copy of Salamanca anywhere though, but then the Ateneo booth was small this year.

National Bookstore had a lot of simultaneous promos going on. All books at a default discount of 20 off, including a pair of books for the Neil Gaiman fanatics: “Hanging Out with the Dream King” and “The Sandman Papers”. There was a universal “pick a prize” promo for 500 and 1000 peso purchase, but individual books had individual promotions as well. Hunger Games had a special dart game where you could win a shirt; Free Watchmen pins were provided for every purchase of a DC title, and free glow in the dark fangs were given for every Sookie Stackhouse novel purchased–a bit of a stealth disadvantage for budding vampires, but sure to be a hit at undead raves.

I swung by Tahanan Books and picked up bargain copies of “The Termite Queen” and “The Warrior Dance”, two slim collections of folktales which shared the themes of earth and sky respectively. There were other collections there but sadly, my wallet could only take so much pain.

They still had a bargain bin over at a Different Bookstore, though sadly the selection didn’t seem as interesting or as cheap as in previous years. I saw some unpacked boxes at the corner so maybe they were saving the good stuff. Still, you could get some good prices for some western SF stuff and scattered single volumes of manga. I managed to snag a Jonathan Lethem novel, but it was the only copy I could see there (“gun, with occasional music”).

PSICOM was present of course, and I finally got around to snagging “Pinoy Amazing Adventures”, edited by Carljoe Javier. Their ghost story books were out in droves as well.

I didn’t enter the New Day Publishers booth, but I could see they had a copy of “More Tales (Supernatural and Otherwise) from the Barrio”.

My strangest find was a little volume I ran across at Rarebook Enterprises entitled “The Balete Book”–I’d heard about it from Villoria.com before, but the badly cropped author’s picture at the back made me hesitate. Still, there was no way I was going to pass on a book dealing with Philippine lower mythology.

Now we get to the bonus round: the book stores on sale in the Mall of Asia itself (outside the MIBF). National Bookstore had a more extensive bargain bin at MOA than within the MIBF, so I recommend spending some time there. After a lot of rooting around I found a copy of Elizabeth Hand’s “Saffron and Brimstone” collection. I also found (not on sale alas) a book on Babaylans and Feminism called “Centennial Crossings”. Over at Fully Booked meanwhile, I found an 80% discounted copy of David Bodanis’ “Electric Universe”–it was the only copy I could find, but there were a few other foreign Spec Fic/resource books in the pile, and the rest of the store was 20% off. Those of you heading to the book fair this weekend though, take heed: MOA is on sale for the long weekend so be prepared for teeming hordes and parking trials from hell.

For those interested in a more visual representation of my haul, here it is. I forgot to go back to Anvil for “The Lost Language”–I’ll rectify that on Sunday.


Good hunting everyone!

EDIT: On, and please note that the Book Fair schedule has undergone a few changes–visit the official MIBF Site for the latest.

6 Responses to “A Spec Fic Guide to the MIBF 09”

  1. banzai cat says:

    Oh cool, the Vibal El Indio is out already?

    … Oh fuck, I don’t have any money yet. :-(

  2. Banzai: I’ll loan you money if you loan me your soul.

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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.