Archive for April, 2012

TOC: Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 5 - 2012

It gives me great pleasure to announce that my steampunk story “On Wooden Wings” (originally from Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6) has been selected for the new “Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution” anthology, edited by Ann Vandermeer. I read the first “Steampunk” anthology while I was working out the world of “On Wooden Wings”, and for it to be included in the third volume of the series is an incredible honor. You can see the table of contents here, and I’m glad I only confirmed the complete TOC today, otherwise I don’t think I could have kept quiet about this news for so long. It’s also awesome to see a strong Southeast Asian presence in this anthology as well–two of the stories come from the Singaporean anthology “The Steampowered Globe“, and there’s a new essay by Jaymee Goh.

Speaking of Jaymee, I’d like to give her a special shout out since she’s the reason I decided to submit the story for consideration in the first place. And hence, I now have a new example of how submitting your work, flaws and insecurities and all, is of paramount importance to every writer. So thanks to Jha, thanks to Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias for publishing it first, and thanks to Ann for choosing to republish it.

 

Flipreads Easter Sale (High Society and Alternative Alamat)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 5 - 2012

Looking for something to read during the longest Philippine holiday of 2012? Flipreads will be having a sale from today, April 5 – 8, 2012, with P40.00 off on selected titles, including High Society and Alternative Alamat. Here’s the complete list of participating publishers/authors:

Publishers:

Authors:

Release: Apex Magazine #35 (International SF Themed Issue)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 4 - 2012

The special international SF themed issue of Apex Magazine has just been released. This issue is of particular interest to readers interested in Philippine speculative fiction, as it has “Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life“, a story by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (one of our “Alternative Alamat” contributors) and an essay by Charles Tan entitled “World SF: Our Possible Future.” If you enjoy the magazine (the contents of the current issue are available for free) , be sure to buy the issue at Apex or Amazon.

Lower Myths and Current Events: An Interview With Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 3 - 2012

Eliza Victoria’s fiction and poetry have received prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. She’s contributed to many of our projects here at Rocket Kapre, including Usok, Ruin and Resolve, and Alternative Alamat. She took the time to answer a few questions about her first solo book “Lower Myths”, which was just released digitally last week.

Why did you choose “Lower Myths” as the title of this novella collection?

I’m not sure if I first read this in a book or online, but some historiographers make a distinction between what they perceive as two kinds of myths. B?rendran?tha Datta discusses it here: “classical”/literary myths are considered “higher myths” while oral/folk myths are considered “lower myths”.

The myths that I’ve always loved are oral myths, and their creatures and characters appear in this volume.

Did you intentionally set out to write novella-length fiction, or were these simply the length you felt that the stories needed to be?

I distinctly remember making notes on these stories and thinking that the plots couldn’t be contained within 5,000 words (the length of an average short story). So yes, I guess the intention is to write longer stories. I didn’t think “novella”, I just thought they’d be “long”.

Did you notice any difference in the writing of novella-length fiction, as opposed to shorter stories? Were there any peculiar difficulties/benefits to the novella?

Working with a longer word count could give you a fake sense of freedom. You’ll write scenes the story doesn’t really need, go overboard with descriptions, etc. What I’m saying is, there’s no difference really. It just so happened that the novella was the length the stories needed.

BUT I have to say one difficulty to the novella is IT’S HARDER TO SELL. I once spoke with a print publication, and they told me that they love Lower Myths, but it’s not marketable. Most publications want short stories, or full novels. Good thing Flipside picked this up or this won’t see the light of day.

Was there any particular reason you chose to package these two novellas together? Do you feel that they somehow interact with each other, thematically? (An early review mentioned that the stories “visit both sides of the fence…”)

The stories mention the same creatures and at moments occur in the same setting.

“Trust Fund Babies” involves a war between families of witches and fairies. What kind of research did you have to do for this story?

I am a fan of mindless, mob movies. Just gleeful, plot-driven action. And I am fond of detective fiction. Whatever research this story needed, I’ve already done in the past I suppose.

Why did you choose fairies and witches in particular, as opposed to other available creature/sorcerer groups?

The story begins in the Cagayan Valley, and the stories my mother and grandmother (who are both from Cagayan) tell me “from back home” almost always involved witches.

As for fairies, I’m just fond of diwata.

Was “The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol” (where an aristocrat and his daughter consult sibling lawyers about a mysterious crime) inspired by any real life events?

If I told you what real-life event inspired this story, I’ll give the plot away! A clue then: turn to the news.

The book also features some fine illustrations. Can you tell us a bit about the artist, and why you chose to include artwork?

The inclusion of artwork (by Lester Banzuelo) was the decision of the publishing house. But [the illustrations] lovely, aren’t they? I really love the cover too [illustrated by Lester Banzuelo and designed by Adam David].

“Lower Myths” is an ebook, but you also have a print collection of short stories coming out later this year. Can you talk a bit about the differences and/or similarities in the publishing process for a digital book and a print book? How did you choose which collection to pitch for print/digital?

I pitched this collection for digital because it might be easier to sell a short book as an ebook than its dead-tree equivalent. And, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t think print publishing houses are keen on accepting novella collections.

As for the differences, print books take longer to produce, and are more expensive. During revisions, a digital book will be returned to you as a Word file with Track Changes on. Meanwhile, my short story collection was returned to me as a print-out, a hefty package with the comments penciled in. As someone who is used to working on a computer, the process seemed archaic to me (I had to sit on the floor so I could flip through the MS without ruining the pages, and take notes on a separate piece of paper). But it was beautiful! It was very romantic. It’s been a while since I last saw an editor’s handwriting.

“Lower Myths” can currently be purchased at Amazon or Flipreads.

Photo credit: Karen Lucero of the National Book Development Board

Philippine Speculative Fiction 6 Review: Hub and Intro

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 1 - 2012

Yes, I know that reviewing an anthology which contains one of your own stories is not something that is regularly “done” in the world of literature, but after weighing the pros and cons in my mind, I’ve decided that the disadvantages of appearing like a self-promoting lout are outweighed by the benefits of promoting more critical attention focused on Filipino authored speculative fiction.

The authors of Philippine speculative fiction (the category, not the anthology) have been producing an ever growing number of stories since the first PSF (the anthology) volume was released, and I think it’s essential that criticism keep pace. In the field of komiks, I’ve been open about my agreement with the position that robust komiks criticism is necessary to push the field forward, and I feel the same way about prose spec fic. I’ll begin with PSF6 because it is the most recent spec fic anthology, and because I’ve found that while I did not like all of the stories in the anthology, each one is worthy of discussion.

And, as a discussion requires more than one person, I’m happy to announce that I will be joined in this commentary by Mia Tijam, one of the best writers in the field, and someone who isn’t a contributor to PSF6. Mia and I have very, very, different sensibilities, and we thought we’d play with the form of our reviews a little: one of us will write a stand-alone review of a story, and the other will then do his/her review by playing off the initial review (and then a little back-and-forth during the revision process). This is our attempt at having a dynamic element, while keeping it from becoming a total free-for-all, which is what would happen if we merely transcribed our conversations.

This post will serve as a hub for all our PSF6 reviews, as we work our way down from the first story of the TOC, so I guess this is where I’ll make my disclaimers: it shouldn’t need to be said, but nothing here is meant to be the final, authoritative, word about the story– comments and rebuttals are highly encouraged; yes, some of the authors are friends of ours, but we try not to let that affect our judgment, or even our tone; we can’t promise to be nice–as someone who pays people to savage my own stories, I have a bias toward the helpful and harsh as opposed to the watered down and useless–but we promise to take each story seriously; authors are welcome to comment, but, that being said, if you know you’re sensitive to criticism, please advance only when you’ve hardened your heart (after all, this is part of what it means to display your work in a public realm).

All clear? Great. Let’s go.

[Review index under the cut]

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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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