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]
[I'll add the hyperlinks whenever we have a new review posted - we'll try to get a new one up every week; if reviews of "On Wooden Wings" and "Offerings to Aman Sinaya" are posted, they will be by Mia alone - the first is my story, the second I picked for Alternative Alamat.]
- The Big Man by Asterio Gutierrez
- Alternative Histories by Ian Rosales Casocot
- Ashland by Elyss G. Punsalan
- Carpaccio (or, Repentance as a Meat Recipe) by Arlynn Despi
- The Grim Malkin by Vincent Michael Simbulan
- From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me by Christine V. Lao
- Prisoner 2501 by Philip Corpuz
- A Smell of Mothballs by Mailin Paterno
- Villainoguing by Joseph Montecillo
- On Wooden Wings by Paolo Chikiamco
- Break in at Batay Street by Francis Gabriel Concepcion
- The Kiddie Pool by Kenneth Yu
- Eternal Winter by Maria Pia Vibar Benosa
- Lament of the Counselor by Jay Anyong
- The Bookshelves of Mrs. Go by Charles Tan
- Offerings to Aman Sinaya by Andrei Tupaz
- Resurrection by Victor Ocampo
- Strange Adventures in Procreation by Andrew Drilon
- Hollowbody by Crystal Koo
- The Storyteller’s Curse by Eliza Victoria
- The Impossible and the R.S.C. Gregorio del Pilar by Alex Osias
- Simon’s Replica by Dean Alfar