Archive for the ‘Slider’ Category

PGS: Horror Issue Now Available

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 14 - 2009

PGS Horror issue cover

It’s a happy day for fans of Philippine Speculative Fiction–most particularly for fans of Philippine Horror–as the long-awaited Horror Issue of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories is now available at Comic Quest branches at Megamall and SM North EDSA (it will also be available soon at National Bookstore). Yvette Tan takes over as guest editor for this issue, and gathers stories from Dominique Cimafranca, Alex Paman, Charles Tan, Raymond G. Falgui, Sean Uy and Joseph Nacino

You can see a preview here, and an advance review here.

On The Far Shore: Mia Tijam

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here . Today we speak with Mia Tijam, author of  “Spelling Normal.”

Could you tell us a bit about your story, “Spelling Normal”?
I don’t know how to answer the question without preempting the story (and consequently ruining the whole Big Buddha Bang Theory and propagating the Cliff Notes Virus).

I think I had a bad case of that virus in High School (mixed with Acute Bluffititis).
Hahaha, I had the latter when I was studying Shakespeare and almost contracted the former when I was studying— yeah, Shakespeare. It was all cured by a doctor in Shakespeare named Ick.

So, how did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?
I have Elves and they have special ears. The Web Elf told me about it. I said, “How far is that from my Native Shores?” Then Agent Elf sneaked the story out of my factory and here now is Secondary World History.

Man I wish I had a story factory. (Mine’s more of an outlet store.)
Hahaha, not a bad outlet store since it landed you a Palanca. Hey, let’s do a comparative analysis on the production from a factory and an outlet store, hahahaha. But the damn factory is a sweatshop with an agoraphobic Torquemada as its supervisor: woe.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?
By the gravitas of the definition and tropes of the term “Secondary World”? Nope. But I always consider any work of fiction as secondary world isotopes, hehehe.

Ah, that pesky definitional issue. How would you define a secondary world story then? (The image of an isotope is an intriguing one.) I confess I’m not very adept at making distinctions myself, not in the field of art at least.
Lexical and semantics gymnastics: What is pesky? What is an issue? What is an isotope? What is a distinction? What is art? What is a box? What is a line? What is a point?
What is a definition: you write it and the editors and critics do the labeling. On with the smashing discourse yo!

How long did it take you to write the story?
Eight years. Seriously.

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The Kindle Cometh

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 8 - 2009


We all knew it was coming: the Kindle is going international. A Kindle with international wireless whispernet (and yes the Philippines is covered) will start shipping on October 19 and is available for pre-order now. You can find more details at blogkindle and Teleread.

Not a bad time to be a digital publisher eh?

Writer’s Wednesday: Fantasy Edition

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 7 - 2009


Today’s Writer’s Wednesday is brought to you by… The Farthest Shore. We’ll focus on fantasy today (the secondary world sort at least), although there’s always an overlap with other branches of SF. We’ve got links to a pair of resources you might find useful for world building as well as a list of fantasy-relevant writing tips, old and new.

Baiting the Muse (Links):

  • Let’s start with this great list of world-building questions posted by Patricia Wrede over at the SFWA site, which are meant to help authors create believable worlds for their stories.
  • For worlds patterned after the pre-hispanic Philippines, is a fairly new site that covers Filipino history and weaponry (not just of the pre-hispanic kind). We’ll also be doing a series of posts on pre-hispanic Philippine weapons in our upcoming Talasalitaan segment.

Consulting the Muse (Tips):

Testing the Muse (Prompts):

Think of a trope or a cliche (note: not the same thing) in the fantasy genre which you are tired of, and write a scene (or hey, an entire story) which breaks away from that.

While we’re always keen to post helpful links for writers here at Rocket Kapre, we thought we’d devote the Wednesday of each week to a more concentrated form of writing goodness.

WW is an experiment and work-in-progress so please let us know what works for you and what doesn’t in the comments ^_^.

On the Far Shore: An Interview With Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 7 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here. Today we speak with Eliza Victoria, author of  “The Just World of Helena Jimenez.”

Tell us a bit about your story “The Just World of Helena Jimenez”:

Without spoiling anything, “The Just World of Helena Jimenez” is about a girl whose family has been a victim of a heinous crime. One day she just finds herself in a world where there is no crime.

How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?

Wow, I can’t even remember. I must have picked up the “call to submissions” link from Charles Tan’s blog, or from Dean Alfar.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?

No. Or if I ever were able to write such a story before, the writing was done unconsciously. If anyone ever reads a story of mine and points this out to me, I’ll probably just dismiss the notion and say, “Oh, those things didn’t really happen, it’s a psychological thing, the character’s just insane”. Etcetera etc. When I write non-realistic fiction it is still very much rooted in our reality, so much so that the fantastic elements can be easily explained by psychology. Ha! I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I can never do Lord of the Rings, where everything is created from scratch, even the language; I’m inclined to use the two-world trope. I suppose Harry Potter falls in this category. This world, that other world.

I can never erase this world from my stories, but that’s me speaking now. This may change in the future.

As far as reading goes though, does your present self share those same inclinations? Or, all else being equal, do you enjoy reading Lord of the Rings type epic fantasy as much as a tale set in our world?

Confession time: I haven’t read Lord of the Rings. (Please don’t shoot me.) But to be sure, I enjoy reading non-realist fiction as much as the realist ones. I read like crazy. I read whatever the bookstores and the book bargain sales and the online journals can offer (well, as long as I can still afford them). I don’t care if the story is set in this universe, or elsewhere. If the language is lovely, the plot engaging, the characters interesting, then I’ll pack my bags and board that plane to Wherever.

How long did it take you to write the story?

Hm, not too long, but longer than usual. However, it took years before the story finally assumed the form I wanted it to have. I started writing this story in 2007, my last year in college. I finished the story sometime after graduation I think. The first draft was more than 30 pages long. It pained me to cut it, so I just set it aside, then wrote other, shorter stories and sold them. When I heard about Farthest Shore, I revisited the story, rolled up my sleeves, and revised.

What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?

Creating a new world is always fun. Describing the culture, the surroundings – I enjoyed this immensely.

What aspect did you find most difficult?

Editing! Oh, editing this monster pained me, because it was so long and I had to cut so many conversations between the characters short. Also, the first draft was very graphic, very violent. I toned it down a bit; though the violence is necessary, I really don’t want to hit the readers too hard.

Ouch. Always painful to kill one’s precious babies. How did you choose what made the cut and what didn’t?

I remember a couple of scenes where the characters suddenly became melodramatic. Like telenovela-melodramatic. When I read the manuscript again after setting it aside for a little while, the dialogue made me cringe. So out with those scenes.

The other parts I didn’t really cut, I just shortened them. I mean if a scene can be shortened and it still works, then it doesn’t have to be that long, right? As a writer, you’re just wasting space. Or being clingy to your language, like, “Oh, but this line’s so beautiful/witty/whatever”. Enough with that – just edit!

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Talasalitaan: Kampilan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 7 - 2009

“Talasalitaan” is the Tagalog word for “vocabulary.” In these posts, we’ll spotlight Filipino terms, concepts, beings and objects which one might encounter–or use–in Speculative Fiction based in or inspired by the Philippines.

Keeping with the week’s fantasy theme, let’s start off with a few ancient Filipino weapons shall we? After all, if we’re sending an intrepid youth on a quest in a setting patterned after some region of the pre-hispanic Philippines, we can;t very well arm him (or her) with a halberd or a rapier.

The kampilan is one of the larger swords used in the pre-hispanic Philippines, primarily in Sulu and Mindanao.  Wikipedia puts the length at anywhere between 36-40 inches, but Filipino Martial Culture by Wiley gives a length of approximately forty-four inches.

The blade of the kampilan is long, single-edged and with a dual/truncated point. The carved hilt is also somewhat long, to compensate for the length of the blade, with a forked pommel styled to resemble the jaws of an animal, such as a crocodile. In “SANDATA — The Edged Weapons of the Philippines”, (by Ian A. Greaves, Jose Albovias Jr. and Federico Malibago), it’s stated that the hilt was sometimes bound to the hand by a “talismanic” piece of cloth to prevent slippage.

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Ideas Alive: New Schedule

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 6 - 2009

The Ideas Alive seminar and workshop on how to be a “media creator” by Jomike Tejido (Foldabots), and Budjette Tan (Trese) had the ill fortune of being scheduled on the day Ondoy hit. The original seminar was cancelled, and Visprint has recently announced that the seminar will now take place this Saturday, October 10, at 3-5 p.m in in Powerbooks Megamall.

Now Available: The Farthest Shore

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 2 - 2009

Since Rocket Kapre launched a month ago, we’ve been whetting your appetite for a certain anthology by giving you weekly interviews with contributors. For the month of September, we’ve picked the brains of Kate Aton-Osias, Crystal Koo and Dominique Cimafranca regarding their stories in The Farthest Shore, an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino authors, and now you can read those stories for yourselves: The Farthest Shore has been released, just in time for weekend reading. Please do check it out, and let us know what you think!

We also have a few more Farthest Shore author interviews in the pipeline (and now you’ll actually know what they’re talking about).  This Wednesday we’ll speak to Eliza Victoria about her story, “The Just World of Helena Jimenez”.

On the Far Shore: An Interview with Dominique Cimafranca

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 23 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here. Today we speak to Dominique Cimafranca, author of “Rite of Passage.

Tell us a bit about your story “Rite of Passage”

I would qualify “Rite of Passage” as a quiet space fantasy; quiet because there are no clashing lightsabers or firing lasers, just a man and his companions on a trek to find a new home away from their tribe. It’s not just any tribe, though, but a spacefaring one, and very much constrained by resources. The trek then takes on the form of a ritual, one that plays on the hopes and fears — the could-have’s and should-have’s — of the chosen one as he strikes out on his own.

How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?

I believe I heard about it from several sources at about the same time. I’m subscribed to Ken Yu’s blog, as well as to Charles Tan’s and Joey Nacino’s (and now to Paolo Chikiamco’s ;-) )  so it must have been one of those.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?

Yes, “Twilight of the Magi”, a re-imagining of the Three Wise Men as battling wizards. That came out in the PGS Christmas Special. I didn’t consciously set out to write a secondary world story then, though; it just so happened mystical Egypt was the most logical setting. Only after the story came out did people tell me it qualified as a secondary world.

How long did it take you to write the story?

Around three or four days, on and off. I can really only write in the evenings.

That’s… mighty quick. Especially given you only write evenings. Is that your usual rate of writing? How many drafts do you usually go through?

Heh. Well, it was a short story. But yeah, that’s about my pace, once I get going. I go over my work a couple of times, but I don’t usually do major rewrites: if I really don’t have a feel for the story I’m writing, I usually drop it and start over again.

What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?

Thinking about the backstory of the characters and the tribe, a detail which never really made it into the final version.

Do you think you’ll ever revisit the world of “Rite of Passage” in another story?

Probably not, as it’s a one-off tale with a theme behind it. But who knows, maybe.

What aspect did you find most difficult?

Heh. The writing itself. Because it never really quite comes out the way you want it.

Were there any particular sources of inspiration for your story?

I like to think the inspiration comes from the rite of leaving home, a necessary part of adulthood, but heightened with the fear that you can never go back.

You’ve experienced the displacement that comes from leaving one home for another correct? Did that influence or enrich the writing in any particular way?

Yes, I’ve left home several times, whether for work or for studies. I always managed to come back, though, and that’s a good thing. But I sometimes wonder what happens if you can’t go back. So those are the emotions which made their way into that story.

Are you working on any new stories or projects now?

I have a domestic scifi story that’s three-quarters written. I’ve put it away for a while because I got caught up in other things. I really should finish it.

If you could write in a secondary world created by another (literary, television etc.), which world would that be? What kind of story would you write?

The worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. There’s something terribly appealing about the 19th century optimism. But I’d like to write it away from the perspective of the white

Well those authors all have works in the public domain already if I remember correctly. Think you’ll ever give their worlds a shot?

I probably will.  With cameos by Crisostomo Ibarra and Pilosopo Tasyo. Hmmm… “Liga ng Mga Hindi Pangkaraniwang Ginoo.”

I’d read that! Well, as long as Juan Tamad isn’t a member. Where else can we find your work?

I have some stories lined up with Philippine Genre Stories, and I’ve had a few published with Philippine Graphic. I also have a story in Vin Simbulan’s “A Time for Dragons.”

RRT: Question 1 Part 2

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 22 - 2009

RRT Slider 1small

Taking our cue from SF Signal, in Rocket Round Table, we pose a single question to those who toil in the fields of Philippine SF. Our aim is to promote reflection and discussion, as well as to simply compare notes on the genre we know and love. We’ve got a few more answers to this month’s question:

What is your favorite Filipino-created Speculative Fiction story?

Joey Nacino: [blog]

==Joey has taken home the first prize in the prestigious Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards and his stories have been published in Philippine Speculative Fiction, the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Manual and FHM. He’s recently launched Estranghero Press, which in turn is set to release its first anthology–The Farthest Shore: Fantasy from the Philippines–this month.==

If I were to pick my favorite Philippine Speculative Fiction story, it would be Mia Tijam’s “The Ascension of Our Lady Boy” which first appeared in Dean Alfar’s Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 3. I love this funny-stark-sad story, which is about the coming-of-age of a gay boy living in the province, moving to the capital, and meeting his “fairy godmother”(the Filipino version). What makes this story great was the fact that it was written in the native language, an exercise in transliteration. Talk about making the English language jump through hoops!

What’s more, the editors of the international collection Year’s Best in Fantasy and Horror probably felt the same since they gave it an honorable mention in their 2008 selections. Now there’s a story that was written for the local audience but managed to make it internationally.

Kristel Autencio: [blog]

==Kristel is a literacy advocate, has written for the Manila Bulletin, and helps run the Philippine Online Chronicles for the Vibal Foundation. She’s used Philippine Speculative Fiction as the basis for a college term paper, and maintains a blog dedicated to crime fiction where she posts about real-life mysteries and the best way to dispose of corpses.

I chose two stories that have elements that appeal most to me as a reader. Obviously I have a very high regard for “historical stories.” Setting is something so underutilized in fiction sometimes, and it’s wondrous when writers can use it with great aplomb. The Death of Fray Salvador Montano Conquistador of Negros by Rosario Cruz-Lucero. (I’m not actually sure that this story would qualify as spec fic but it’s pretty wondrous for me so I guess that’ll do.) I wish more people read her, she’s a tour de force. From the opening paragraph, you are transported to a different space and time, a Philippines you and I don’t know.

An Excerpt from Princes of the Sultanate (Ghazali 1902), annotated by Omar Jamad Maududi, MLS, HOL, JMS by Dean Alfar is a story written like an encyclopedic entry but the political intrigue happens in the footnotes, which at once a clever stylistic trick and a subtly poses a question about the nature of historical writing and how much of it is subjective. A very good piece of metafiction.

M.R.R. Arcega: [blog]

==Rebecca “Bhex” Arcgea’s stories have been published in the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, and Philippine Speculative Fiction. She also runs the Philippine Speculative Fiction Blog. Equally adept at English and Filipino, she’s won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award in the Filipino screenplay category and was a fellow at the University of the Philippines’ National Writer’s Workshop.==

Mahirap ang tanong mo ha. [Ed. Note: Translation-That's a tough question.]

I don’t find it easy to call things favorites, and I really can’t recall the titles and authors of the short komiks stories I liked as a kid, so the ones I’m going to list might not be my all-time faves, but they certainly made an impression on me at the time I read/watched them.

With local stuff, I find myself drawn to speculative works that have a comedy base. Alas, those works tend to lose a lot in translation, so it’s hard to share the love with people who aren’t comfortable with the Tagalog language. I remember that I enjoyed “Spirit Warriors” starring Joel Torre and a very young Vhong Navarro, but I don’t know if I’ll still like it if I see it again now. At any rate, that movie got me liking Vhong Navarro, who impressed me again later in his starring role in another fantasy cult classic, “Gagamboy“. I wish both movies were easier to find in local shops these days.

I also love Ang Kagila-Gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah,” the graphic novel by Carlo Vergara. It’s clever, hilarious, insightful and oh so memorable. I remember buying that book for some friends and all my secret Santas, a few Christmases back. Drained my thirteenth month pay like anything, but it was a worthwhile investment! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind work, and I’ve been hoping it would set the standard for other local independent comic artists. Well, maybe if it reaches more people?

As for fiction – there are so many good new stories coming out, so I’m finding it hard to choose a favorite. I think it would be a toss-up between Dean Alfar’s L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars) and Michaela Atienza’s “Atha”. Not comedy, but both extremely well-written. “Atha” blew me away with the stark imagery. “The Kite of Stars” is a true classic, recommended reading for all ages.

Paolo Jose Cruz: [blog]

==Paolo ordinarily uses his story-telling abilities to keep US customers satisfied with their plastic. His stories have been published in Manual and Philippine Speculative Fiction, and he serves as the intrepid quiz master of GeekFight!==

Dreams of the Iron Giant by Joseph Nacino. [Ed. Note: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV] What Nacino did was take tropes from world (military) history, Japanese pop culture, and fuse them with a sense of indefatigable hope in the face of adversity, which I read as distinctly Pinoy. On top of that, he used a real life conflict as a launching point for an alternate history built on references (Astroboy, sentai) that are an undeniably a part of the shared childhood of middle class Pinoy adults.

Sean Uy: [blog]

==Sean has been writing since he was 12 years old, and is a writer of essays and short stories, two of which, “The Final Interview” and “Tech Support”, have seen print in the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. He is a silent anti-plagiarism advocate, an occasional critic of modern storytelling, and a lover of stuffed toys. Given the right circumstances, he may turn into a homicidal maniac one day. Or even worse… an accountant.==

I don’t want to waste too much of your time on what amounts to a personal choice, so I’ll put it straight: the work at the top of my list right now is Vlad Gonzales’s Lunes, Alas Diyes ng Umaga. To my knowledge, it only came out in a cheap anthology called “Pinoy Amazing Adventures”, which I picked up and reviewed way back in 2007.

You’ll want a short explanation, of course.

Lunes, Alas Diyes ng Umaga is a remarkable combination for me: I feel that it’s a piece of science fiction that touches on the less obvious aspects of the genre. Surprisingly, the story lacks the advanced technology that marks your traditional sci-fi. Instead, it places the reader in a very familiar contemporary situation, paces you through some very strange events involving parallel universes/timelines, and throws in a subtle twist that reflects a clear — and regrettable — facet of human behavior.

I cite Lunes as my favorite local work of speculative fiction so far because I feel that it’s gone well beyond the other attempts that I’ve seen. It carries a central message that can only be effectively communicated via speculative literature, it ruminates on that knowledge, and it delivers without benefit of the usual trappings on which we poor amateurs usually depend. It’s easy enough for the man on the street to read and identify with, and it points out that some things about culture and humanity will never change, even when the potential of the entire universe lies at our fingertips.

More importantly for me, however — and I’ve been chewing on this fact for the last couple of years — it represents the kind of story that I’d like to write someday. To me, it’s that nasty piece of writing that hits you right where it hurts, that work that makes you slap yourself on the forehead and wonder why you didn’t put it together yourself.

In short, I wish I’d written it.

Heck, I wish I’d simply thought of it. That’s a huge bit of estimation in my book.



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.