ROCKET KAPRE: THE LONG “WHY”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 27 - 2009

The_Long_Why

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.

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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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