Archive for January, 2010

Project 2010 Launch – List of Speakers

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 29 - 2010

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As I’ve mentioned before, tomorrow (Saturday), 30 January 2010, I’ll be one of the speakers at the Project 20:10 launch at at 1:00pm,  Instructional Technology Center (ITC) viewing room 2,  Ateneo de Manila, High School. Organizer Ria Lu (who I recently interviewed on Metakritiko here and here) has generously given me the complete list of speakers for the Character Building workshop that will launch the Project, and I’m honored to be in such prestigious company:

  • Kenneth Yu, Philippine Genre Stories
  • Yvette Tan, Waking the Dead
  • Elbert Or, Lola: a Ghost Story
  • Carlo Vergara, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah

…and of course, me.

So if you’re looking for some writing tips this Saturday, looking to support local creators, or simply in search of something to do to kill time on a Saturday afternoon, come on down. If you get bored, you can always head to the fair and try to get yourself caught by the Marriage Booth or something. (They still have those at fairs right? It’s been so long @_@)

Global Game Jam 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 28 - 2010

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Thanks to Ria Lu’s twitter, I’ve just discovered that budding game designers in Manila have their own version of… well, I don’t quite think NaNoWriMo would be a fair comparison, so let’s just say something akin to the 24 Hour Comic Challenge from a ways back.  This year, Manila will be participating in the Global Game Jam by holding an event from late this Friday (January 29) to Sunday (January 31) at the UP Information Technology Training Center. You can find more details at this website as well as a handy FAQ (which mentions that while registration is nominally at 2:00 p.m., as long as you can make it to Friday by 8 p.m. you’re fine.)

They’ll start uploading the finished products (to the global site I presume?) around 3 p.m. Sunday. Here’s hoping for some SF games in the crop…  I want my Kangkong vs. Kapre game ASAP!

Memorable Characters from Philippine Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 27 - 2010

This Saturday, 30 January 2010, I’ll be one of the speakers at the Project 20:10 launch at the Ateneo High School Fair. (For those interested in the project, the first part of my interview with Ria Lu is up on Metakritiko today.) I’ll be talking about creating paranormal characters, so I thought it might be a good warm up to talk about a few more-than-human characters from Philippine Speculative fiction and komiks who I’ve found to be memorable, and to try to analyze why I found them memorable. These aren’t necessarily my favorite characters mind you, as that’s largely a matter of reader preference/affinity for particular personalities… but whether or not the reader remembers the character is, I think, something a tad more objective, and a more universal goal for creators to aspire to.

That being said, this is still a personal and subjective aggregation (and in no way comprehensive), so please feel free to suggest others in the comments.

(Images from the slider image are attributed below)

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Zuma

Key words: Unity of Elements.

Why I remember him: While the fact I was so young when I first saw him is certainly a factor (nothing takes so permanent an impression as a child’s mind), the striking–yet simple–character design is probably what makes Zuma such a memorable character. While it would take years for special effects and costume technology to reach the point where heroes such as Batman and Spiderman could be rendered on-screen in a non-campy way, the 1985 Zuma film pretty much nailed its title character–not that difficult a task really, since all they needed to do was shave Max Laurel’s head, dye him green, and give him a two-headed snake. Yet those three elements were enough to convey the other-ness, the power and the malice which defined Zuma as a villain. While his costume, so to speak, is basic, every aspect of it was geared towards producing a singular impression.

(Image source: Artwork by Gilbert Monsanto)

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Helping Haiti

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 22 - 2010

The Philippine National Red Cross has a page up with information for those who want to help the people of Haiti in the wake of their worst earthquake in centuries. You can find that information here, but I also found a few other ways to help that might be of special interest to genre fans and creators.

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First up, DriveThruRPG is selling a Gamers Helping Haiti bundle, where for a US$20 donation, you get to download a cornucopia of RPG ebooks with a total worth in excess of US$1000 (yes that’s one THOUSAND dollars). Even if you’re not a gamer, if you’re a writer you might find RPG source books can be a great way to jumpstart your imagination–I certainly read through dozens when I was young, even if I never used them in an actual game. The promotion lasts until the end of January, so please head on over and take a look.

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Next, we have Crossed Genres’ Post a Story for Haiti initiative. Authors can post stories at their own sites and make them available for free online, then once they notify Crossed Genres the stories will be added to the list of stories already contributed (which includes stories from the likes of Jeff Vandermeer and Jay Lake) as an incentive for donors. If you’re a writer, feel free to contribute (and hey, let us know when you do), and if you’re a reader, why not use the stories as a way to reward yourself after sending in a donation?

If you guys know of any other ways to help, feel free to post in the comments. I’ll update this post if I stumble across any more that might involve the genre in an interesting or unique way.

(Image source: PNRC)

World SF Needs Your Help

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 20 - 2010

… specifically, the excellent World SF News Blog, an excellent source of news, interviews and features (we’ve linked to them many times) which casts a spotlight on speculative fiction and comics worldwide, especially works from authors/or which originate from places beyond the traditional bastions of the genre in the U.S.A. and the U.K. (Yes, that includes us here in the Philippines, as Bibliophile Stalker Charles Tan is one of the contributors.)

The WSNB is a companion blog to the Apex Book of World SF and now they’re asking for some help from readers in order to sell 92 more copies of the book by the end of January, as a way to support the site. In case you didn’t know, and could use another reason to support the site and the book, the Apex  Book of World SF contains “The Kite of the Stars” by our very own Dean Alfar.

The book has received good reviews so far–here are a few I found online:

(Image source: Amazon.com)

Ruin and Resolve Reviewed in Business World Weekender

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 16 - 2010

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Business World writer Johanna Poblete, who previously featured and reviewed Usok, gives Ruin and Resolve the same treatment in the pages of this week’s Business World Weekender (it’s a Friday-Saturday edition, so it should still be available today. Minor spoiler warnings apply.). While she has details her favorite stories in the review, as well as those that didn’t quite work for her, she seemed pleased overall with the charity anthology:

But outside its being a charitable donation, this newest [Spec Fic] anthology isn’t a throwaway piece of literature; it’s worth buying for its own sake — lending credence to the publisher’s self-effacing introduction of “we hope our stories and poems make you feel all the happier to have helped those in need.”

Credit once again goes to all our generous authors, as well as the Artspice! crew, who provided me with the art which I incorporated in the cover. Please continue to spread the word everyone–I’ve received news that some of our less Internet-savvy readers are a bit intimidated by the Smashwords registration process (a few have just given me cash in person @_@) but the process is actually very simple, and I’ve made a small walkthrough of the process here.

Chained Links: 15 January 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 15 - 2010

Still adjusting to my new schedule, and trying to balance Metakritiko editing/writing duties with Rocket Kapre and my own fiction, and couple that with my Internet outage (attributable to my router dying apparently) and that means I’ve been a bit behind on my news-of-relevance-to-Pinoy-SF… but that’s nothing a Chained Links post can’t fix!

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Philippine Spec Fic News:

  • Lola: A Ghost Story (with a story by J. Torres and art by Elbert Or) is a graphic novel from Oni Books that tells the story of a boy who returns with his family to the Philippines for the funeral of his grandmother. Elbert says it should be out in comics stores this week, so you all know what you’re shopping for this weekend. You can check out some reviews at School Library Journal and Comic Book Resources, or check out the 17 page preview at the sites Elbert mentions here.
  • A list of indigenous tribes and languages of the Philippines by F. Blumentritt which briefly describes each tribe’s location, culture and religion. Handy resource eh? (Filipiniana.net)
  • Project 20:10 is a project with the two-fold mission of drumming up support for local creators, and increasing the amount of local content in fiction, comics, animation and gaming. I’ll have an interview with project organizer Ria Lu (of Talecraft fame) at Metakritiko soon, so watch out for that.
  • Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels Seminar by Glasshouse Graphics from January 30-31. You can find the details here – warning, the site has audio. (via Komikero)
  • Speaking of comics, komiks creator macoy (I recently reviewed his “Ang Maskot“) posts embedded video of a Kubori Kikiam motion comic (which is obviously NSFW) and an animated mock opening to “The Metro” by Jerome Jacinto –which, I confess, I’ve never heard of before, but it looks awesome.
  • The Philippines’ second solar car (there was a first?), aptly named Sikat (see what they did there? *nudge*) is embarking on a nationwide tour. (Good News Pilipinas)
  • Spirit Photography is the topic of a recent blog post of Spec Fic author Yvette Tan . Speaking of Yvette, have I mentioned that she plugs our Ruin and Resolve anthology here?
  • Trese 5000: No, that’s not a far-future story arc, it’s a sales figure estimate for books 1 and 3. Congratulations to Budjette, Kajo and Visprint on the continuing success of Trese.

Genre and Fandom:

  • The Bibliophile Stalker Awards 2009 went up last January 13, in case you missed it.
  • Neglected Books and Authors get some love over at Tor.com
  • Fandom, Participatory Culture, and Web 2.0 is the title of a course which I’d love to take up, but as that’s unlikely to occur anytime soon, I’m glad that Professor Henry Jenkins has posted his syllabus at his site.

Reading and Writing:

Usok Interview: chiles samaniego

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 13 - 2010

Been busy with Ruin and Resolve, but don’t think I’ve forgotten Usok ! I’m still in need of stories for our second issue, so if you have a speculative fiction tale in search of a home, you can check Usok’s submission guidelines here.

Here’s the second of my interviews with several of our Usok authors (to get some insight as to their lives as writers in general, and their stories in Usok in particular), this time with chiles samaniego, author of The Saint of Elsewhere: A Mystery. chiles (yes the small caps and small pronoun “i” are intentional) is also one of the authors who generously donated a story to Ruin and Resolve.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your story.

As with many (maybe even most) things for someone of my temperament, it started with a girl. Though that, obviously, is as simplistic/reductive as it is concise as a summary of my particular creative process—at least for this story. Of course, after that, in the writing, it grew into something both more and, substantially, less than what that beginning suggests.

What aspect of the story gave you the most difficulty?

The Elsewhere itself—the thing itself and the ‘theory’ behind it—which, between this version and the original version published by Q [Ed. Note: Kenneth Yu of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, where the story was first published], took me years of not-actually-writing-or-even-thinking-about-the-story to get ‘right’—i.e., get it to the point at which it’s a fairly workable approximation of what i wanted or what i now think i wanted it to be.

Do you remember the first short story you ever wrote? What was it about?

No, i don’t remember. i’ve got a shit memory. To be fair, it’s hard to imagine a ‘first’ when i must have made hundreds of false starts over the years, little abortive/nascent bits of story floating around somewhere in the universe—exponentially more of those than actual finished product. Personally i don’t quite see the point of ‘firsts’, it all seems pretty arbitrary to me, like alphabetizing things—on the one hand the apparent progression gives you the illusion of some imposed order but, on the other, what does it really mean, starting with ‘a’ and ending with ‘z’?—though of course illusions of the sort can provide us with a way to do things we might not otherwise think to do, or think we can do—walking on water, say, or shifting planetary orbits—and pretty much sums up what we do–or, to be precise, what i think we do–with this thing called literature. Or one of the things, anyway. Not that i have any idea what literature is ‘for’.

Does your cultural background influence how you write, or what you write?

How could it not? Though that’s not to say i’ve ever been the type most people would call ‘engaged’ with what they would most likely identify as ‘my cultural background’. Then again, maybe what matters is the form that engagement takes—maybe it’s the form (or maybe the engagement itself) that exerts ‘influence’, not the cultural background per se. i don’t really know. i really haven’t given it much thought. Which is to say—to be unabashedly wishy-washy about it—i suspect it must do, whether i’m conscious of it or not.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever read or received?

“At the end of the day, if you can do anything else—telemarketing, pharmaceutical sales, ditch-digging, or being a major league ump—I suggest doing that. Because being a writer blows. It’s like having homework, every day, for the rest of your life.”

As an aside, i can maybe think of one other thing i can do. But, until they make it legal, i guess i’m stuck with the homework.

(Ed. Note: chiles’ answer to the last question surprised me, so I sent him a follow-up question via email to try to clarify what he meant. I’m including his reply here because I think it sheds more light on the answer, and because I always find his thought process interesting. )

hey Pao

i do, actually, believe that ‘being a writer blows’. that does not, of course, preclude the occasional hair-raising, mind-blowing, pure-orgasmic pleasure to be had from crafting the occasional well-turned phrase or from an elegant act of punctuation, though these pleasures are of the few-and-far-between variety, and are at any rate so fundamentally meaningless in the so-called Grand Scheme of Things as to be nothing short of plain absurd.

now, the fact that you even have to ask implies that, no, a simple ‘yes’ would not, in fact, suffice, but to properly expound on why i think ‘being a writer blows’ (beyond the ‘it’s like having homework every single day of your life’ argument) entails writing a lengthy, footnote-and-bibliographed intensive essay on literature, or Literature, which i am not, in fact, equipped to deliver. i will, however, suggest here that i find it impossible for anyone who truly understands literature–with or without the pretentious cap–what it so-called means and what it so-called does, and loves it with the fatal passion it demands, or has even just a fraction of that understanding, that love, i don’t see how such a writer can think otherwise, if for no other reason than because not only is Literature the evilest, bitchiest of evil bitch lovers, inclined to love you less (if you’re a writer) the more you love it, but that also being a writer is the ultimate expression of the absurdity that is the so-called human condition, ie: that being a writer forces you to define ‘self’, your ‘selfhood’, as it were, by and against something that is essentially, despite its alleged value as the Most Important Thing In The World/That Which Defines Our Basic Humanity/That Cry Against The Indifference Of The Infinite, judge and weigh yourself constantly by and against something that despite these lofty (and true!) allegations is nonetheless universally, fatally *inconsequential*. A writer, f’rinstance, is forced to define himself with such meaningless/pointless/inconsequential terms as ‘good’ versus ‘bad writing’–and *Writing is Dangerous* in precisely this sense (among others) of self-negation, ie, of constantly putting yourself on the human-sacrificial-altar that is the receptacle for the blood price that is demanded by literature…that the ‘typical’ writer (if there is such a thing) also tends to be exterior to that so-called human condition is just icing on the cake: that to chronicle life, or a perception of life, or an imagined perception of life, or an invention that to some (God help ‘em) is itself a kind of life, except for the gifted few, is necessarily to stand outside and apart from the so-called real thing. this is why i believe a sense of humor, that most basic component of wit, is absolutely necessary to the survival of the fatally self-aware writer, and is so essential to so-called greatness in literature (whatever that means), and why our great comic writers, our writers of the absurd–Bolaño, Foster Wallace, Kafka are some of who i mean, just as a f’rinstance–are They Who Know Where It’s At, and therefore bear the greatest moral weight…and why i present none of this with the po-faced lack of humor my tone and name-dropping might imply. ie, what i mean to say is, yes, go ahead; and include all this babble by way of explicating my position if you feel you must, because, really, no one should listen to anything i say anyway: ie, it’s all nonsense, really.

Estranghero Press News

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 11 - 2010

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Our friends over at Estranghero Press have been busy lately, so I thought it might be best to gather some relevant updates in this post.

First off, everyone remembers that the deadline for story submissions for their Demons of the New Year anthology is on January 15 right?  Well if you didn’t remember, now you do, so no excuses. Procastinators and crammers (I think that covers about 90% of the people I know) have around five days to polish up those horror stories and send them to co-editors Joseph Nacino and Karl R. De Mesa.

Second, Estranghero Press now has a facebook page so go add them up if you’re a fan.

Third, head honcho Joseph Nacino has posted the digital press’ guidelines to shed some light on how it will be run and how often they plan to release new titles.

Futurism and the Filipino

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 7 - 2010

cowofthefutureAn interesting discussion is taking place in Adam David’s blog concerning Futurism and Philippine Speculative Fiction, most particularly the lack of “homegrown Futurists” amongst Filipino Spec Fic writers. (Adam’s post has a NSFW pic–consider this a warning–but you can find the post here.) As Adam put it:

“[The local Spec Fic scene's] output has been overwhelmingly Nostalgist/Nativist – from MagRealist fables to (if ever) back-to-basics postapocalypses to manananggal-raver mashups to Brockanian urban dystopias – and if ever someone does do a Futurist take on the Philippines, it is almost always politically infantile, its idioms largely borrowed from another culture’s, ie, Hollywood and Wired.”

The post has elicited some interesting responses in the comments section (which is now much longer than the actual post), with comments from Spec Fic writers like Joseph Nacino, Kenneth Yu, Carljoe Javier and Eliza Victoria. Topics discussed in the comments include: clarifying what is meant by “futurism”, how to get writers to write about specific topics, the socio-cultural background of a Filipino SF writer, the nature of editing, and the future of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, amongst others.

(Image source: Behold the cow of the future by thewamphyri CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic)

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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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