PSF6 Review: “Alternative Histories” by Ian Rosales Casocot

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 3 - 2011

This post is a part of our story-by-story review of Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6. You can see the introductory post, and our disclaimers here. Bold font is Mia Tijam, everything else is Paolo Chikiamco.

—Title’s obvious.

If you’ve ever witnessed our #RP612 Twitter fiction events, you know that Twitter-length alternative history stories are right in my ballpark.

So that’s what it’s called? Twitter fiction? Twition? Twitfic? Twific? And if it’s good do you say “Tweet!” And when it’s bad twitter fiction— what do you call it? Finger fart? Twit? Twat? Just asking.

The key to really short stories, from what I’ve seen, is to be able to construct them in a way that they read as something immediate, as opposed to something academic. Jotting down a one sentence summary of a story idea is not the same as crafting a piece of microfiction.

— It’s the whole application of 140 max characters as the constraint. In Media Res at its core. Question is was this constraint maximized?

Casocot gets that, so all of the microfictions here involve scenes (or segments of a scene) as opposed to summaries, presenting something tangible and particular from which the reader can speculate about what has changed and what the consequences to history could be. The stories of the Cardinal, Emilio/Andres, and Imelda are the best of the lot.

— Only Filipinos would get it. (And I hope the younger folks do get it because a lot of Filipino kids now are not really immersed in our history or the source and implications of historical facts other than dates being declared as holidays.) No problem if the micros are only meant to be read by Filipinos. Marcela and Paciano made me chuckle.

[Pao: I don't think PSF is really intended for the general international audience (as opposed to the segment of the international audience willing to do research to understand a story). Maybe that'll change if/when they go digital…]

—- A question of more accessibility then since the anthos are being snail/express- mailed/plugged to international editors. Thanks again to Charles Tan for being a Metatron!

The other stories are hit and miss: microfiction-as-quick-punchline doesn’t really appeal to me, and stories that focus on characters from the too recent past sometimes have more the feel of anger than possibility, but they do reflect the types of fiction we get during #RP612fic.

Some of the micros could have been tighter for maximum effect because some parts of the articulation are redundant (refer to 2 and 5). Some just feel flat like jokes that would be greeted with deadma or that “Nyeeeee!”

And now I’ll stop before the review is longer than the story. :)

Yes, that’s something to think about, isn’t it? When reviews are longer than the piece being reviewed. It’s a good commercial break after the long Big Man. Would I read the two pages allotted for it again? No.

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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.