Filipino Reader Fridays: Introduction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 12 - 2011

As part of an event to promote the upcoming Filipino Reader Conference, I’ll be participating (or trying to) in Filipino Fridays, where Filipino readers discuss a weekly topic. For this week, I’m going to talk a bit about who I am as a reader.

People talk all the time about “literary snobs”, those who read only literary fiction and look down on anything else, particularly genre fiction. For the longest time, I was their polar opposite, and true genre snob who simply didn’t see the point in a book that dealt solely with the possible, much less than actual. I went after the longest, most intricately detailed, science fiction and fantasy books I could find, cutting my teeth on every lengthy saga that graced National Book Store shelves: The Guardians of the Flame; Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn; The Belgariad-Mallorean; The Farseer Trilogy; The Elenium-Tamuli; Shannara; Thomas Covenant; Landover; The Saga of Recluce; The Ender-verse; The Homecoming Saga; Xanth; The Star Wars Expanded Universe; The Wheel of Time… I could go on, but then it might not be “Filipino Friday” by the time I’m done.

I still enjoy the occasional hefty fantasy, but my tastes have expanded quite a bit. I now admit that you can create a riveting story without the presence of a single wizard (although I’d still rather read a Dresden Files novel than a Man Booker Awardee, unless it was written by Michael Chabon), particularly in the field of YA, where the fantasy instead takes the form of, for me at least, having that degree of self-possession as a teen. (Favorite authors: John Green; Richard Cormier; Cynthia Voigt) Of course, when you combine YA and genre, all the better. (Favorite authors: Philip Reeve; Cory Doctorow; Scott Westerfeld).  I still love traditional science fiction and fantasy, but I love it more when it’s in a subgenre that didn’t saturate my youth, like the caper-fantasy (Scott Lynch), modern urban fantasy (Jim Butcher, Harry Connolly), or steampunk (see Reeve and Westerfeld).

Comics and manga still make up a large portion of my reading diet, but I tend to focus more on the works that have a definite ending in mind (sorry super-folks)… oh, and Yotsuba&!, which should never, ever end. I also grew to enjoy the virtuoso technique and imaginative breadth of short stories, so I’ve really gotten into collecting themed anthologies (superhero, steampunk, and of course, most anything with a focus on Philippine speculative fiction). I love non-fiction books too: those that untangle complicated issues or illuminate unknown history (particularly Philippine history/mythology); those that show me the beautiful unity of science (“The Canon”, many books from Clifford Pickover); those that provide insight into the genre books I know and love.

As for best (fiction) books of the year, so far? “Child of Fire” by Harry Connolly, “Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits” by Jen Van Meter, “Dash and Lilly’s Book of Dares” by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, “Little Star” by Andi Watson, “Cross Game (vol. 1)” by Mitsuru Adachi.

13 Responses to “Filipino Reader Fridays: Introduction”

  1. Chachic says:

    Love this post! I’m laughing at the idea of a genre snob. I love reading fantasy and I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of YA as well and when you combine those two? Sigh, I’m one HAPPY reader.

    Just wondering, have you read books by Megan Whalen Turner, Robin McKinley, Sherwood Smith, Juliet Marillier and Kristin Cashore? Okay, I should stop there. I could go on naming favorite fantasy authors (mostly females) but you might find it tiresome. :P

  2. Meann says:

    Actually, when I first met you, I thought you were just a plain snob.

    KIDDING! Haha! :P

    Hey, I looooove Westerfeld too! Very excited for the release of GOLIATH. Meanwhile, I’m into his Midnighters series. Interesting premise so far, though as of Book 1, it’s not yet as engaging as the Leviathan series.

    And wow, hardcore fantasy! I’ve never been able to get into the epic sagas as much as I would’ve wanted; I’ve only ever pursued Dragonlance.

    And The Dresden Files! I want to try reading that, so I’ll keep an eye out for Book 1. :)

    Also, I’m a Star Wars fan, but as far as the EU goes, I’ve only read The Thrawn Trilogy, The Courtship of Princess Leia, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and The Crystal Star. Oh, and a couple post-Episode 2-era novels.

    • Paolo Chikiamco says:

      The Greenbelt Powerbooks used to have a lot of the early Dresden novels–not sure if that’s still true. :)

      As for the Star Wars EU, Thrawn is still the high point. I like Zahn’s and Stackpole’s contributions best–once they moved on to Vector Prime though, I stopped reading.

      P.S. I’d hardly be surprised (or insulted) if I did make that first impression. I’m not a people person :)

  3. Ron says:

    When I was younger I also loved The Belgariad-Mallorean; Thomas Covenant; and The Wheel of Time, although I do have to admit that I had a harder time reading the first two than I did WoT.

    Like Meann, I also LOVE Scott Westerfeld! I only just bought “Leviathan” because of the awesome cover, but then the story and Thompson’s illustrations just sucked me right in!

    • Paolo Chikiamco says:

      Covenant was a hard read for me (more because of the substance than the style) but I’m surprised you had more difficulty with Eddings’ stuff than Jordan’s.

      Did you see Thompson’s rendering of a Tikbalang on his site, seemingly in the same universe as Leviathan? :)

      • Ron says:

        I think the difficulty was because of what age I was when I read Eddings. I think I was only seven or eight when I started reading Eddings, while I was already getting into my teens when I started reading Jordan. If I ever get around to reading Eddings again today, I feel like I’ll have a different opinion. XD

        I DID NOT KNOW THAT. I would love to see his take on the Tikbalang!

  4. Honey says:

    Ooh, the Mallorean! One of my first fantasy loves. Together with the Heritage of Shannara series. I used to love The Wheel of Time, too, but when he took a while to come up with his 6th book, I dropped the series. I dropped the Star Wars books quicker than that, though. Of the ones I read, I liked Zahn’s series the best, too.

    So you like Chabon. Kavalier and Clay? I forgot to add him to my favorite authors.:)

    • Paolo Chikiamco says:

      I stuck with WoT for a bit longer, but then I felt as if the plot was getting away from Jordan, so I stopped. Will likely read it again someday, since I trust Sanderson to bring all the loose ends together.

      I’ve heard that the Star Wars Legacy comics are good (and are the farthest part of the EU, timeline-wise) although I’ve only read a few issues, I’d have to concur. Think a Skywalker with a Solo (or Fett) attitude.

      As for Chabon, haven’t read Kav and Clay yet–Gentlemen of the Road is what elevated him in my eyes.

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