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.
Philippine Speculative Fiction IV:
“Breaking the Spell” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz – “very well done and original…”
“The Sewing Project” by Apol Lejano Massebiau
“A Retrospective on Diseases for Sale” by Charles Tan – “a clever extrapolation”
“Dino’s Awesome Adventure” by Carljoe Javier
“Haya Makes a HUG” by Erica Gonzales – “effective and moving”
“Parallel” by Eliza Victoria
Mr. Horton also ends by mentioning that amongst the remaining stories are “fine work” from the likes of Andrew Drilon, Vincent Michael Simbulan, and Kate Aton-Osias.
A Time for Dragons: “another fine collection”
“Glass” by Nikki Alfar – it makes the collection open “very strongly”
“The Annotated Account of Tholomew Mestich and the Tiles of Ganew” by Elyss Punsalan – “amusing with a very imaginative idea at the core”
“The Final Tale of Zhang Bai Long, Earth Dragon of Guei Lin” by Elbert Or
“A Fishy Tale” by Apol Lejano Massebiau
“Capture” by Gabriela Lee – “a poetic tale”
“Fallow’s Flight” by Dean Francis Alfar – “reminded me a bit of Avram Davidson”
“A Little Knowledge” by Dominique Cimafranca – “clever”
Congratulations to the publishers, editors and authors of the anthologies, especially those who managed to wrangle a special mention. Thanks as well to Locus and Mr. Horton for taking the time to review the books.