Archive for August, 2012

WIT: Visprint Reader’s Day 2012

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 28 - 2012


Visprint is set to have its second annual reader’s day on September 8, at the Alphaland Towers. It’s an all day event, and if you’d like an idea of what to expect, check out recordings from last year’s event, provided by Charles Tan. Visprint publishes many of the most charismatic authors I know — including Budjette Tan, Manix Abrera, and Carlo Vergara — and has just published regular Rocket Kapre contributor Eliza Victoria as well, so if you have time, WIT is worth checking out.

Cover by Les Banzuelo and Adam David

If you know about Philippine speculative fiction, you owe a debt to Dean Francis Alfar. Dean is one of the most well known (and critically acclaimed) Filipino spec fic writers, and one of its staunchest advocates – he published the print versions of the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction series and is one of the organizers of the Litcritters discussion group/workshop. His new short story collection is now out from the good folk at Flipside Publishing: “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” Here’s a book blurb, with praise for Dean’s writing from a wide array of peers and critics:

How to Traverse Terra Incognita is Dean Francis Alfar’s second collection of short fiction. An advocate of the literature of the imagination, he is the publisher of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies, an annual showcasing Filipino fictionists that he began in 2005.

“Dean Francis Alfar’s stories contain fantastic worldbuilding, crisp prose, and contemplative, poignant storytelling. Several of these stories made me cry. If you aren’t reading Alfar yet, you should be.” – Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, Apex Magazine

“Dean Francis Alfar is one of the most inventive writers of speculative fiction today. It’s criminal that his often playful, sometimes serious, gloriously literate tales aren’t better known around the world. Although he’s a very different writer, his lyrical style seems to me to make him a Ray Bradbury for the 21st century.”
- John Grant, Joint Editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, and author of Warm Words and Otherwise: A Blizzard of Book Reviews and many others

“Dean Francis Alfar is a wondrous storyteller, creating tales that take the reader far and wide. From reluctant dragon fathers and dueling weather gods to demanding, dying queens, he has a way of pulling you into his captivating worlds and never letting go. And really, who would want to leave anyway when there is something extraordinary around every corner?” – Hugo Award winner editor Ann VanderMeer

“Dean Francis Alfar’s ambitious but aptly titled collection is a revelation. In these wide-ranging stories you’ll find the melancholy magic of Kelly Link mixed with the clever wit and bite of Etgar Keret mixed with the unrestrained passion of Harlan Ellison. Yet, “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” is utterly original. It’s like that amazing new band that you fall in love with instantly and want to share with everyone. Then you and your friends will be gladly building replicas of your kingdoms, barricading the house against fathers, and packing for the moon.”–Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep and Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye

“How to Traverse Terra Incognita is a kaleidoscope of strange realities. Dean Francis Alfar’s elegant prose offers tantalizing glimpses of broken fairy tales, urban magics, and everyday sadnesses.” – Ditmar Award winner Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk.

“Dean Francis Alfar is an amazing talent. Profound, luminous and lyrical, “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” is the masterwork of an artist at the very top of his game. This collection is a must-read for anyone who cares about the magic of rubbing words together.” — Ted Kosmatka, author of The Games

“When Dean Francis Alfar is at his best in stories like ‘The Ghosts of Wan Chai’ and ‘Securing Doors from Fathers,’ he illuminates human emotion with deft surrealism that merges the familiar and the unfamiliar, allowing the reader to view both in a new light. His clever use of sustained metaphor allows him to play with subtext, memory, and the intersection between personal and communal experience.” – Nebula Award winner author Rachel Swirsky

“Like water coming and going from some strange invisible well, arresting style and uncanny subjects flow in the short fiction of Dean Francis Alfar. An innovative force behind him moves in each compelling story. With Dali-like detail, Mr. Alfar coolly raises hanging coffins, replicas of maritime kingdoms, phantom brides and Hong Kong suicides, whirling chatty lobsters, Mr. Sun’s face, and the remarkable art of making love to twins. He is never afraid to go out and seek what strange thing he may find. I won’t say this writer merits only finding a wider readership in the West: it is better to say that we are entitled to find him. Read something from this collection before you go to bed; rise with the wonder of what happened to your dreams.” – Danel Olson, editor of the Exotic Gothic series


Image from

Last Saturday, not only did “Alternaitve Alamat” win in the 1st Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards, but I also leaned that “Alternative Alamat“, as well as “High Society“–my steampunk comic with Hannah Buena–have been nominated for a Manila Critics Circle “Special Prize for an Ebook” for this year’s National Book Awards.


The nomination has me thrilled on multiple levels – not the least of which is because I’ve been nominated twice (*shudders with glee*). It’s also great because I think this is the first time an award like this is being given, and it shows that literary institutions such as the National Book Development Board and the MCC are starting to recognize digital publishing. Not to mention the fact that two of the nominees are komiks (and congrats to our friend Adam David for the nomination for “The Long Weekend”) and I always enjoy it when komiks are given their due.  I’m also happy for my publisher/co-publisher Flipside Digital , which as you can see dominates this category quite handily–the folks at Flipside are top-notch, and it’s great that their efforts are being recognized.

The names of the winners will be revealed during the awarding ceremonies that will be held on November 17 at the National Museum, so keep your fingers crossed everyone!

2nd Filipino Readercon Link Roundup

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 21 - 2012

The 2nd Filipino Reader Conference was a blast — and not just because of Rocket Kapre’s big win. I served as the master of ceremonies last year and this year, and in almost every way, the 2012 Filipino Readercon was both bigger and better. The “bigger” part was self evident – the Filipinas Heritage Library is easily more than four times the size of the SMX conference room we had last year, and the number of participants coming and going was easily in excess of two hundred. Unlike last year, we needed to split into two “branches” of parallel panels/discussions for much of the day. In spite of the number of people, the organizers managed to also achieve their goal of allowing for more socialization during the events, both during the socials, and by providing a space outside with vendors where people could mill around and talk without disturbing the official discussions. The socialization wasn’t even limited to those who were present at the venue – Pacific Rims author Rafe Bartholomew was gracious enough to stay up late to join the discussion of his book, and the social networking team of the Filipino Readercon did an excellent job of keeping folks outside of the venue up-to-date, and we even trended nationwide on Twitter for a bit!

From the Filipino Readercon FB Page:

Of course, I’m far from the only one who had a great time, so here’s a list of links to other posts about the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference. [If you've posted about it too, just comment in the links portion and I'll add you in when I update.] Congratulations again to everyone involved, and see you next year!



The 2nd Filipino Reader Conference took place last Saturday and it was a resounding success, with more than two hundred book lovers of all sorts – writers, fans, publishers, kindle fanatics, paperback hoarders, librarians, book club members – converging at the Filipinas Heritage Libraryand celebrating the joy of a good read. For us at Rocket Kapre, it was even more memorable because “Alternative Alamat” took home the top prize in the “Short Story Anthology category in the first ever Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards. (Which was a great way to cap a day filled with more good news on the awards front – but more on that later.)

Photo c/o AA contributor Eliza Victoria

It’s a great honor to receive the award – while I wanted to make “Alternative Alamat” accessible to non-Filipinos, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that introducing my countrymen to the beauty of the less-well known aspects of our mythology and heritage, as well as to the talents of Filipino speculative fiction writers, is one of the foremost reasons why I published the anthology in the first place. Congratulations and thanks goes to my wonderful contributors, to Mervin Malonzo for his beautiful art, to Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita for sharing their time and expertise, and to the good folks at Flipside Digital who co-published the book and handled all the back end details that would’ve driven me crazy. Thanks as well to the judges for their acknowledgment, and all the readers whose votes allowed us to make the short-list.

Here’s what the judges had to say:

Alternative Alamat does for Philippine deities what Neil Gaiman’s American Gods did for the lesser-known gods of Europe, Asia and Africa. Readers will find that the gods, goddesses and supernatural beings of the Philippines are as fascinating as those of any other nation’s pantheon. By turns shocking, tragic, even malevolent—the beings featured in this collection of stories are given new shape and form in stories that traverse the past and the present of Filipino culture. If myth is said to form a nation’s collective subconscious, then Alternative Alamat gives Filipino readers a much-needed injection of myths that are truly ours, and truly deserving of more widespread attention. Because of this collection, we’ll never view Filipino mythology the same way again.

Guess it might be time to shop around for a print publisher huh?

Update: “A Bottle of Stormclouds” Availability

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 14 - 2012

Based on the latest status update from publisher Visprint, Eliza Victoria’s A BOTTLE OF STORM CLOUDS (which we’ve mentioned before) is now available in the following locations, for P220.00:

Fully Booked – The Fort, Greenhills Promenade, Gateway Mall, SM Mall of Asia, The Block North EDSA, Rockwell, Shangri-la, Greenbelt 5, Trinoma

Bibliarch – Glorietta 3 and Waltermart Pasong Tamo

Pandayan Bookshop Metro Manila branches

The books will also be in stock soon at National Book Store, Powerbooks Store and all other provincial branches.

2nd Filipino Readercon: Program and Pre-Registration

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 13 - 2012

Last week was a bit… distracting, for those of us here in Manila, but I’d like to remind everyone that United We Read, the second Filipino ReaderCon, (an event for all Filipino readers, book bloggers, book club members, publishers and educators who have a passion for books and reading) will be taking place this Saturday, at the Filipinas Heritage Library, from 8-6PM. I’ll be there to facilitate one of the panels, and likely to be your master of ceremonies as well. You can pre-register at this page. Still undecided? Here’s the event program for you to check out (click to see full sized):

And here’s a press release:


Reading advocates, in partnership with the Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) and National Book Development Board (NBDB), bring you United We Read: the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference on 18 August 2012, Saturday, 8:00am at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City.

Organized by readers for readers, the convention aims to bring together Filipino readers and book lovers, book bloggers, book clubs, authors, publishers, and educators who are passionate about books and reading, promoting interaction between local readers, writers, and publishers.

United We Read will feature panel discussions on Reading Everwhere: Scanning the Reading Environment, book blogging ethics, publishers’ perspectives on readers, school reading programs that work, and authors as readers. Speakers for the one-day event include publishing industry veterans such as Maru de Castro (Pandora’s Books), Feliz Perez (Mt. Cloud Bookshop), Zarah Gagatiga (Philippine Board on Books for Young People), Nida Ramirez (Visprint), Aleks Tan (OMF Literature), and Gwen Galvez (Anvil Publishing). Book bloggers Kai Agito (Amaterasu Reads), Blooey Singson (Bookmarked!), and Jaime Salazar (Random Salt) round up the morning sessions.

In the afternoon, authors Manix Abrera, Mina V. Esguerra, Jun Balde, Budjette Tan, Bebang Siy, and Dean Alfar will be on hand for discussion, followed by book discussions that will be hosted by local book clubs Flips Flipping Pages, The Mysterious Reading Society, De La Salle Literature Circle, and The Filipino Goodreads Group.

The conference will also host the awarding of the 1st Filipino Reader’s Choice Awards. An initiative of the Filipino Book Bloggers (, the awards seeks to engage the Filipino reading public in honouring their favourite Philippine-published titles. Book nominees eligible for the award are titles which were published locally from January 2010 until December 2011.

Scholastic Philippines, Lampara Books, McDonald’s Philippines, Flipreads, Anvil Publishing, Inc, Hachette Philippines, Amici Philippines, OMF Literature, Inc, and Adarna House are proud sponsors of this event.

Everyone is invited to join. Registration fee is P150.00, inclusive of snacks and a certificate of attendance. For more details, visit the Filipino Readercon website at or the Filipinas Heritage Library website ( You can also call the Filipinas Heritage Library at 892-1801 (look for Verne), send an SMS to 0917-5612413, or email

 Sponsors of the 2nd Filipino Readercon:



Launch: Tabi Po International Page

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 7 - 2012

Mervin Malonzo’s “Tabi Po” is a wonderful Filipino webcomic about a group of Aswang in the pre-20th century Philippines. While the webcomic is written in Filipino, the first two books have been translated into English and released as digital books, and now Mervin has put together an excellent website for his English speaking audience. (Can you tell he’s a web designer in his dayjob?) Explore it by scrolling downward to get the full effect.

Fantastika Filipinas: Dean Alfar at DLSU

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 2 - 2012

The Literature Circle of De La Salle University will be holding an event called Fantastika Filipinas: A Talk on Philippine Speculative Fiction by one of the leading Filipino writers of the genre, multiple Palanca winner and Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 co-editor (and Alternative Alamat contributor) Dean Alfar. The event will be held tomorrow, on the 3rd of August, Friday, from 2:00-3:30 pm at Yuchengo 507.



About Me

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.