Archive for the ‘Features/Interviews’ Category

Alternative Alamat Interview: Dean Francis Alfar

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 15 - 2011

Alternative Alamat” was released yesterday (go buy a copy at Amazon, iTunes, or Flipreads), but our contributor interviews will still continue. Today’s featured “Alternative Alamat” contributor is a man who should need no introduction (but I’ll give him one anyway), Dean Francis Alfar. Dean is a leading advocate of speculative fiction in the Philippines, and the publisher of the annual “Philippine Speculative Fiction” anthology. His novel “Salamanca” won both the Book Development Association of the Philippines’ Gintong Aklat award, as well as the Grand Prize in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. He has nine more Palancas to his name, two Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Awards, the Philippine Free Press Literary Award, and the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Award. His short fiction has been collected in “The Kite of the Stars and Other Stories”, and been published in venues both national and international, including “The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror”, “Rabid Transit: Menagerie”, “Latitude”, and “The Apex Book of World SF”.

Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

My story, set in the reimagined colonial Hinirang, answers the question “What happens when the Spanish colonizers open the door into the Faith system of the native Filipinos?”

Most of the narrative in this story is told through the use of the footnotes. What do you gain, and what do you sacrifice, in using a different format for a story than most readers are used to? When is it worth the risk?

I like to use different forms and structures to tell different kinds of stories.  For this one, I liked the appeal of being able to delve deeper into the usually dry and superficial tone of most encyclopedias or similar resources.  I also broke the convention of the footnote and utilized direct narrative, with complete sequences of quoted text (warts and all).  It is a challenge to read, but I think it is also rewarding.  The loss of the usual narrative flow is worth the discovery of deeper or enhanced text.  But certainly, this manner is not to every reader’s taste – but it falls to us to try something unusual once in a while, for the sake of the story.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

Finishing it, haha!  But really, apart from the white heat of insipiration, writing is more work than fun for me.  But the reward upon completion is worth all the stress and late nights.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

Editing myself has always been my bane.  I tend to gloss over my own errors – lapse of logic, missing words, mistaken attribution – because my mind fills in the blanks even as I read.  It’s different when I edit other authors because I am automatically distant from the text.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

As a young boy, I cut my teeth on the classical myths but eventually found myself wondering if we had anything ourselves.  I wasn’t happy with the watered-down versions I found as a youth.  It was much later, in university, when I had a class with Damiana Eugenio whose work provoked my interest and in turn led me to Maximo Ramos and other sources.

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

During a panel I chaired recently on Philippine Folklore and Mythology, Jun Balde sold me on the myths and legends of the Bicol region.  I’d love to read all of that. [Editor's Note: Here's an audio recording of that panel, Manila International Literary Festival 2011: Of Folklores, Myths and Legends, courtesy of Charles Tan.]

Release Day: Alternative Alamat Now Available

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 14 - 2011

Cover for "Alternative Alamat" by Mervin Malonzo

The day has come!

Alternative Alamat“, our digital anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology, is now available for US$4.99 at the following fine establishments:

  • – US$4.99 (note there’s an extra US$2.00 charge for certain non-US territories/accounts, including, unfortunately, the Philippines)
  • (epub file) – PHP235.00
  • [iTunes and Barnes & Noble/Nook editions to follow]

I hope that by now you’re all excited to get your hands on the book (or, rather, the hardware holding the file), and if so, thank you and what are you waiting for? If you’re still on the fence even after the preview of our contributor and story introductions, and our author interviews (Raissa, Mo, Eliza), then read on (or download the press release here)!

As a celebration of today’s launch, I’d like to give you a glimpse of some of the non-fiction segments of the book, as well as the wonderful artwork of Mervin Malonzo, creator of “Tabi Po“. You’ve already seen the beautiful cover Mervin made for us, but you may not have realized he’s also doing internal artwork as well. Each book is graced with eleven original illustrations by Mervin, where he gives his spin on eleven of the most interesting gods and goddesses of Philippine mythology. I don’t want to give too much away, so here’s a montage-teaser using elements from all eleven pieces:

After the cut: one full sample of Mervin’s interior artwork, the full text of the book’s introduction, and excerpts from my interviews with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alternative Alamat Interview: Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 13 - 2011

Today, I continue my interviews with Alternative Alamat contributors, leading up to the release of the anthology TOMORROW. Today’s author should be a familiar name to any reader of Philippine speculative fiction: Eliza Victoria. Eliza was born in 1986. Her fiction and poetry have received prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. For additional information, visit her at

Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

My story concerns a teenage boy who ends up at a pawnshop owned by a woman named Ana – who turns out to be more than a simple pawnshop owner.

Have you ever had something positive result from getting lost or from losing something?

I’ve lost small items every now and then, but they’re of little to no consequence. Their loss didn’t really teach me anything life-altering. I guess the most recent, significant loss I’ve experienced was when my family lost our store to a fire last year. A year has passed and now my parents have stopped renting space and have bought a new store and got the business going again. The positive result? A realization and later a rock-solid belief that my parents are superheroes, that my family can survive anything, that I have no reason to give in so easily to despair.

And I think there was a time when I got lost in Greenhills and I ended up at a stall that sold the most gorgeous cheap shoes. Haha!

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you? What was the most difficult?

I don’t write to answer a call for entries. Normally I just write a story whenever I have the idea and the time, and then send it if it fits a certain publication. I didn’t have a story ready when I read Rocket Kapre’s call for entries to Alternative Alamat, but I was tempted to try to write a story that would fit the anthology. Often, before I begin writing, I already know how the story will flow and how it will end. I didn’t know how “Ana’s Little Pawnshop” would end when I started writing it. I wasn’t even quite sure what it was really about! There were just these two characters talking about sold items. So that was fun, trying to figure out where the characters would take me, but it was also difficult because I had no outline.

I had fun writing in the teenage boy’s voice. I haven’t used the “I” persona in a long while, so that was a wonderful change. I also loved describing Ana’s shop and all its items. I just hope it’s as fun to read as well.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

I think it’s through this cheap book of myths and legends that I found lying around the house when I was a child. I can’t remember the author or publisher. I saw it as a horror collection. Imagine a child reading about the origin of the pineapple, or how the lizard came to be. Freaky little stories. Most of our legends are stories of tragic transformations, and they mystified me. I loved them.


Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

I think it’d be interesting to make a movie about Lam-ang or Bernardo Carpio or Mariang Makiling and set it in the present. Or the future, why not? Lam-ang with a robot chicken. That would be awesome.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

Mariang Makiling, because she’s bad-ass.

Alternative Alamat Interview: Mo Francisco

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 12 - 2011

Today’s featured Alternative Alamat contributor–part of our run up to the book’s release on December 14–is Mo Francisco. Mo climbs and writes as much as she can. Her stories have come out in the Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Speculative Fiction IV and other publications. Her story “Jimmie” won 2nd place in the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards in 2009. She has climbed with both the Loyola and the UP Mountaineers.   They have taught her that going days without a shower, sleeping on rocks and suffering limatik bites are worth the trouble when you stand on top of the world with a blanket of clouds below you, music blasting from an iPod and good friends beside you, their glasses raised. She has yet to encounter Maria on her climbs.

Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

Conquering Makiling is a coming-of-age story of a city boy. He meets a girl whom he fancies (um, fantasized about) and lets her take him on an adventure in the wilderness of the mythical Mt. Makiling.

You’ve mentioned that you’re a mountain climber. Putting the element of “setting” aside for the moment, has this experience of nature fed into any other aspect of your writing? If so, how so?

Climbing has changed me as a person, so in that sense, I can’t help but be affected (or have my writing become affected) by my love for nature, the great outdoors and the thirst for (physical/emotional) challenges in general.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

Writing itself is always the fun part! It’s the editing part that’s not so, um, fun.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

The sex scene (Oops. Spoiler ba?).

I keep imagining what my parents will say. Hi Mom!

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

Generally, through grade school and high school classes.

But I first felt their mystique on my trips to the mountains. There is a superstition that you adhere to – yes, even if you are not at all superstitious- especially when climbing mountains like Mt. Banahaw and (what some call the “devil’s mountain”) Mt. Cristobal.

Somehow these myths come alive, creep into the ‘possible’ when you are out in nature. It’s a whole different world where you are not in your element of TV, Internet, iPods. There’s something uncontrollable, wild and beautiful about nature. Something dangerous about it. That feeling of not being in control, of danger, is exciting, sexy.

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

Bernardo Carpio. Or Malakas at Maganda.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

Maria Makiling. I think I would like to get to know her even more.

She seems like an interesting woman. Like, if she walked along Ayala Avenue, what kind of woman would she be in modern times?

She is so different from the Maria Clara of Spanish era. I feel she is the Lilith of our mythology.

Alternative Alamat Interview: Raissa Rivera Falgui

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 8 - 2011

I’ll be doing a series of short interviews with my Alternative Alamat contributors. Today’s author is Raissa Rivera Falgui. Raissa is a writer of fiction for both children and adults. She has won several awards, including first place for Futuristic Fiction in the 2002 Palanca Awards and second place for short story for children in the 2002 and 2006 Palancas. A member of Kuwentista ng Mga Tsikiting (Kuting), her most recent published stories are for young people, in Tahanan Books’ The Night Monkeys and UP Press’s Bagets Anthology. She graduated from UP with a degree in Art Studies and is currently working towards an MA in Creative Writing. Over the years, she has worked in various institutions, as English teacher, writer, or editor. Among the most recent jobs she has had was one that required her to write about places she has never visited, including Mt. Malindig in Marinduque. Currently her main job, which she does not plan to give up, is looking after her daughter. She is married to an Ateneo English teacher, Joel Falgui.

Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

The story is about a sorceress, known in folklore as Maria of Malindig. I changed the name to Maryam, which is more appropriate to pre-Hispanic times, when the story is set. She is so powerful and imperious that she intimidates men, and she becomes determined to use her magic to win the man she loves.

What was your impression of the Maria Malindig myth upon first reading? How did you decide which aspects to keep and which to re-imagine in your own version?

I knew it was “the one” as soon as I read it, and I had already gone through much of Damiana Eugenio’s volume. I was fascinated by Maria of Malindig’s dominatrix quality, and intrigued by the love story. I felt it begged explaining why such a strong woman so desperately needed the love of a man to complete her. It was hardly in keeping with the image of a powerful sorceress queen. I also decided to do away with the element of religious defiance, where she curses the gods and is punished. I found that too didactic and thought her hubris actually stood out more without her falling back on gods.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?

The nature of the queen’s magic is barely described in the original, so I had fun coming up with the details. Imagining how people in the past lived is always fun for me, and I actually referred to The Governor General’s Kitchen to get an idea of what they might have eaten. If encouraged I may actually produce that feast someday! And the love scenes, but they were also difficult.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?

I had some trouble with Pangkikog’s character, making him both an attractive, sympathetic man but still domineering enough to insist on his way. It was difficult getting the dynamics of the relationship between Maryam and Pangkikog just right. It was necessary that they have a power struggle while still being drawn to each other. Their dialog with all its accompanying gestures went through a lot of revisions.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

I’ve been reading myths since childhood.

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

I’d love to see my version of the Malindig myth come to life in a movie, of course. I’d love to see a lot of myths adapted into film in the style of Jim Henson’s Storyteller series, especially the ones of the sky-maiden and of the first man and woman who came out of bamboos.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

I’ve always liked Mariang Makiling. I love strong female characters.

Alternative Alamat: Cover, Release Date, Story Introductions

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 1 - 2011

Cover for "Alternative Alamat" by Mervin Malonzo


EDIT: Alternative Alamat is out now on Amazon and Flipreads!

On December 14, 2011, “Alternative Alamat“–our anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology–will be released on,, and the iTunes store. This anthology has been more than a year in the making, and it is near and dear to my heart, so any help spreading the word would be greatly appreciated. I’m excited, not the least of which because of the excellent cover art provided by Mervin Malonzo (creator of “Tabi Po“, who also provides the interior illustrations), and because I believe we’re attempting something that hasn’t been done before, in the context of Philippine mythology.

Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… yet too few of these tales are known and read today. “Alternative Alamat” gathers stories, by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find in common in these eleven stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse, and develop a hunger, for those venerable tales.

“Alternative Alamat” also features a cover and interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo, a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

If you are a book blogger or book reviewer and would like to review/feature Alternative Alamat, please do contact me at rocketkapre[at]g mail. To give you a sneak peek of what to expect from the anthology, after the cut I’ve included the introductions for each of the eleven stories, which also serve as the bios for each of the contributors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Design and Desire: An Interview with By Implication

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 30 - 2011
There are few things I enjoy more than speaking with passionate Filipino creators, and helping them garner the attention they deserve. The game designers of By Implication should need no introduction from me–as I mentioned in my post on Scram, they’re the Filipino game design team that won Microsoft’s prestigious 2010 Imagine Cup Game Design Competition last year. Since they just released their first commercial game, I thought this would be a good time to sit them them down (virtually) and get to know them better. Game designers are usually more anonymous than creators in other media, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as eccentric interesting as other artists, as you’ll see from this interview.
If you like what you see, do give Scram a try and support awesome game design that just happens to be from the Philippines.
Q: We know a lot about “By Implication” as a team, but what about as individuals? Tell us a little bit about yourselves, your lives outside of By Implication, and what your role in the team is–and by that, I don’t mean “position” such as artist or programmer. 

Kenneth: My name’s Kenneth Yu. I’m supposed to be By Implication’s writer and story director-guy, but because I studied Economics and Business in La Salle, I’ve seen been press-ganged into also being the team’s producer / project manager. This means, basically, that besides writing up copy and coming up with game concepts + stories, I have to do all the crap no one else wants to do. Like creating sound effects and ambiance, recording payments and purchases, bugging people to get stuff done, writing up hare-brained marketing schemes, buying everyone coffee and chicken sandwiches, keeping everyone on speaking terms, and beating down supervillains. The 2-3 hours per day I spend outside work go to reading, toy collecting and playing Batman: Arkham City (and, on occasion, eating and sleeping). All of these inevitably lead to new game and story ideas, and thus to more work in By Implication. Man.

Jim: My name is James Choa though I go by the nickname of Jim (or trigger-happy, if you play certain online games that are not considered as mmorpgs). Outside of being one of the programmers in the group, I also function as the resident Linux guy, programmer, non-teaching-guy-who-can-represent-programmers-in-most-meetings, hardcore gamer and programmer. My apologies, I think I left out the important detail of me being a programmer in the group.

Wil: This is the Wilhansen Li, self-proclaimed PROGRAMM_CAT, of the group. He smites anyone that dares defy the laws of Computational Complexity, using an Infinity (+1) Hammer forged from the very darkness of the universe. He has warped through the Universe-ity of Ateneo, obtaining the coveted combined degree of Computer Science and Math, only to end up back in the Universe-ity to bestow epiphany to those who are willing to accept the Enlightenment. He shall ensure and verify that all laws of any universes created by Implication neither explodes nor collapses to a singularity. The PROG_CAT balances; the PROG_CAT; the PROG_CAT listens.

Thomas: I’m Thomas Dy. I mostly do the other programming that neither Wil nor Jim particularly want (i.e. non-Apple and non-game programming). Like our almighty PROG_CAT, I’ve also taken up the challenge of bestowing Enlightenment upon those who are willing (to pay the Ateneo).

Philip: I’m Philip Cheang, one of the two designer-artists in the group. I graduated in Fine Arts, but have always been partly developer at heart, and continue to write some code here and there (though on a much smaller scale than our beloved developers above). In this regard, I sometimes mediate between the technical and non-technical sides of the team. I enjoy (and dread) nudging lines and shapes ten pixels to the left, then maybe five to the right, but wait-I-have-a-totally-different-idea-now- -I’ll-just-delete-everything, several times over the course of the day. Recently, I’ve also started teaching (like Wil and Thomas), but in Ateneo’s FA department.

Together with Levi, I work directly on graphic assets, art direction, and interface design. Together with Kenneth, I represent the team in events, press, and business meetings. Together with Wil/Jim/Thomas, I discuss technical and architectural decisions. By myself, I generally dick around and waste time, which is why it’s important that I’m together with someone. 

Wait, that sounded wrong. Can we omit that? Is this live? Hello— —

Levi: Levi refers to himself in the third person during interviews. He performs exactly half of design/art duties, leaving Philip to do the other half. Every now and then he brings the team to work, and the rest of the time he hitches; fuel economy is very important to the crew. When food needs to be ordered over the phone, he is often the one to do it, and he will do it in a foreign accent. He is also an unlicensed chemical engineer, and thankfully does not practice. Surprisingly, his training in this field has been helpful in a variety of unexpected ways in developing games—such as in threatening his teammates to work.

Kenneth: Now you see what I have to deal with every day.

Q: What was it like, winning Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Game Design Competition? How did your concept for “Wildfire” come about, and did it change much from conception to execution? 

A: Competing on a global scale, representing the Philippines, and winning first place against many other teams was simply a fantastic experience. In many ways, it was a culmination of our efforts since high school. As young, ambitious kids, we loved (and hated) all these different games, and so we tried (and failed) to create games we could call our own. Winning in the Imagine Cup gave us the validation that creating games was something we could seriously pursue. It’s been an interesting ride so far, and we look forward to the road ahead.

Wildfire’s inception sat at an interesting intersection: we had just come from two competitions, we had been playing with these cool algorithms for autonomous agent behaviour and crowd simulation, and we had just experienced this terrible typhoon called Ondoy. With the drive to win and accomplish something, the technology to build something upon, and an inspiring story to share with the world, we set out to create Wildfire.

The Imagine Cup’s theme was the Millennium Development Goals (poverty and hunger, environmental sustainability, global partnership, and so on) — really big problems. What we saw after Ondoy was that big problems like these can be solved by the collective effort of many individuals. In the Filipino spirit of bayanihan, people from all walks of life volunteered their time and effort in helping their fellow man. The thing is, it’s normally difficult to directly address real-world problems with a game. Other utility-style apps are easier to link to a theme, because you can do directly useful things like aggregate information, offer networks and connections to interested parties, and open lines of communication.

With a game, you generally have to just teach people about the reality of a problem, by inserting that problem as your game’s main theme. Now, many games with a “theme” are, sadly enough, detached from it. The theme is nothing but a layer slapped like a sticker on top of an existing mechanic. “The game will be like a Tower Defense, except it’ll happen in someone’s organs, and will teach people that diseases are baaaaad.” (This was actually one of our earlier ideas, which we ran with for about a month or two.) We had the opportunity to create something that was genuinely inspired.

Wildfire was designed as a “volunteer movement” simulator, from the very start. The idea was to portray the movement of a single good intention, as it “spread like Wildfire” across a population. From the very beginning, we had grid-style cities, crowds of people moving about, and “bad-guy” agents getting in the way. The idea was always for the main character to “inspire” crowds of citizens, and lead them around the city to complete a variety of tasks.

Our initial version of Wildfire was a 2-D affair with only dots for characters. (You can still see traces of this early version in some of our promotional / trailer videos for the game.) When we go through the elimination rounds for the Imagine Cup, we had the opportunity to expand Wildfire, turning it into the full 3-D version that people can download and play today. Along the way, we attempted to implement additional mechanics, like bullet-hell style opponent dodging, and strategy game-style territory control, but many of these features were dropped, for the sake of clarity.

Note: Posting this a bit earlier in the week as there will be a major announcement on Thursday. We’ll also be holding off the PSF6 reviews for December but will resume in January.

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.

And so… Paging Adam David, look oh, more of your demand for experimentation in Phil Spec Fic!

I know that this is not your favorite, Counsel, because it’s non-linear hahahaha! See, I think most would react to this story, after reading it, with “And so?” Yeah, what’s the point, right?

Objection! I didn’t find the format difficult, but I think that’s because it was fairly obvious once I started the piece that I wasn’t supposed to find any narrative linking the segments, each of which was self-contained, and linear. I think my difficulty comes more from the experimental stories where I know (even if I’m wrong) there’s supposed to be an overarching narrative somewhere, and I just can’t seem to find it.

—-Haha, okay, okay!

I appreciate this kind of story being included in PSF anthologies because: 1) It challenges the reading-linear-habit which kind of breeds lazy-reading. 2) Because it does, then the brainwaves are exercised when it comes to perspectives and understanding of meaning, of what the story is really about.

As someone who has never been a fan of difficult to read fiction (as opposed to non-fiction), I feel the obligation to state that lazy reading is a perfectly viable state of being a reader-for-pleasure.

—-Hahaha, riiiiight. Like Lazy Boy and TV, hmmm?

Intrinsically, this story is what you call playing on motif. So the question is: what is the motif? What is common among all the names? What connects them? Because the usual reader might think that they are not connected, as if the names are just slides in projection or just weird episodes (and the weirdness making it all under “speculative”).

By “usual reader” that’d be me I think. I already said that I didn’t see the need to draw a narrative connection between each segment, but as far as a common theme, my anchor was the title itself: each segment used the idea of alternative names to show alternative realities (in my reading, all the protagonists are the same woman, in different worlds), and within each segment, the etymology of the name was interpreted through a short narrative.

Read the rest of this entry »

PSF6 Review: The Grim Malkin by Vincent Michael Simbulan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 24 - 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.

The story opens with a cliché— literally— illuminated by multiple flashes of light, in quick succession. And in succession, the story makes use of cliché articulation like reduced to rubble, yawning chasm, one fluid motion, clenched teeth, struggled to catch his breath, dangling in midair and so on. Now in my head there’s a bell that clangs for each cliché phrase that I read so that can be a distracting turn-off from the reading. Seriously, imagine “TENG!TENG!TOINK!” going off like a fire alarm in your head.

I’ve got an odd sort of relationship with medieval fantasy stories (read as both sword and sorcery and epic fantasy). It’s sort of comfort food, and in a strange way, it’s one of the genres where I tend to be more forgiving of an overabundance of common genre tropes. In fact, sometimes I find myself resisting deviations from the “traditional”–I never got into “A Game of Thrones”, for instance, and while I’ve heard good things about the “The First Law” books, the fact that they’re viewed as somehow genre-subversive makes me wary.

— I understand about these types of comfort food stories and sometimes it’s like a no-brainer-break in my own speculative reading. Like romance novels hahaha. And you haven’t read “Game of Thrones?” Dude, you’ve got time to make a change, just relax, take it easy hee-hee-hee…

[Pao: I read the first three books. I just sort of lost interest with each succeeding one…]

So, while I do agree that some ubiquitous turns of phrase were used, I’m not sure about whether or not that was a conscious choice to surround a traditionalist genre reader with the familiar, a shorthand way of making the reader feel that he/she knows the setting and the characters, although little is actually revealed. The problem with this strategy, if it was in fact adopted, is that you’re targeting a very narrow segment of readers, I think. After all, those who like the comfortable and traditional aren’t likely to shell out money on a non-themed short story anthology with a lot of first time authors.

Read the rest of this entry »

RK Recommends: Horn by Peter M. Ball

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 22 - 2011

My review of “Horn” by Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press) is up on Fantasy Faction. I enjoyed the novella, even if I had a few issues with it, and it’s well worth the read if you’re interested in something darker than your usual urban fantasy fare, with a distinct heroine and a dash of subversion. Here’s an excerpt:

Unicorns. They’re a staple of the fantasy genre, and while there are many works that treat the unicorn with respect, they are also regularly dismissed in popular culture as being representative of the flighty, whimsical, and escapist character that, in the eyes of opponents of the genre, make it possible to take fantasy seriously. Or, as the tongue-in-cheek jacket copy of “Zombies vs. Unicorns” puts it: “Unicorns are sparkly and pastel and fart rainbows.” (An awareness of why it can be hard to write good unicorn stories is part of what makes that anthology so much fun.) Unicorns, the argument would go, belong with fairy godmothers and magic spindles and princes-turned-into-frogs, the objects of fairy tales which we put aside along with the rest of our childish things, once we grow up, once we become adults and the world loses its luster, the wonder in our souls replaced by a gnawing cynicism…

But what if we take the concept of the unicorn, and re-imagine it within the confines of the “adult” world, a seedy world of crime and debauchery, where innocence is a technicality and the only happy endings belong to the man with the gun? What it we take a unicorn, and place it into a piece of noir fiction?

You can read the full review here.



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.