Archive for the ‘Slider’ Category

Talking Points: Decolonizing and World SF

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 21 - 2012

There were several posts that went up last week dealing with matters that will be of interest to Philippine SF writers and readers. Couple this with the recent discussion on diversity, and you’ve got a very enlightening series of articles on the state of the genre. Check them out:

  • World SF Blog‘s Non-Western SF Roundtable (Part One) (Part Two). Participating authors are  Aliette de Bodard (France), Joyce Chng (Singapore), the controversial blogger known as Requires Hate (Thailand), Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Philippines/The Netherlands), Ekaterina Sedia (Russian/USA) and Rachel Swirsky (USA, in Part 2).

Excerpts:

Aliette: … There are lots of factors at play that explain why outsider narratives are more popular; but one of the main reasons is one of audience: as Ekaterina mentions in her blog post: at this junction in time, the dominant audience in the field is Western (of US/European culture), and outsider narratives have a better grasp of how to present (ie exotify) elements of a setting in a digestible manner for the mainstream (White) audience. This is very much regrettable, and I really do wish that people would stop using the word authenticity altogether, as it’s either used as an exclusionary factor, to police who within a community has the right to write about the culture (something I find utterly fraught with problems); or as a well-meaning but somewhat hollow reassurance that the writer’s world feels real (the only ones equipped to judge authenticity of, say, a story set in Brazil are Brazilian people, and I certainly would never dream of qualifying someone’s story set there with that word!).

xxx

Ekaterina: Another point is that the insiders will disagree. Some will like it, some won’t, and some will hate it because it is by an outsider. And the lesson for the writer there is not to say “Well, screw it, haters gonna hate, I’ll just write whatever because you cannot please anyone”. You’re still responsible for doing as good a job as you can. And accepting that your best might not be good enough for some people, and their opinions are also valid. Don’t trot out the natives who loved your work, don’t tell people who dislike it that they’re wrong because another person from the same culture liked it. So really, if you want approval, stay out of other people’s cultures. Nations won’t get together to sign waivers that say that you are free to appropriate whatever and no one can say anything about it ever. People will be angry, and they will be right to be angry. If it upsets you, reconsider your motivation.

Rachel: … Speaking as a western writer, and as someone who has attempted to engage in writing with other kinds of privilege, I am inclined to agree that it’s inescapable that a privileged person will write a narrative that is rooted in their privilege. One can minimize exoticism, I hope, but I don’t think it’s possible to erase it.

As a writer of science fiction, particularly, though, I see myself as having an obligation to present a future that is, as Joyce says, for everyone. As I should have said in the other roundtable, despite the American propensity (including mine) toward tunnel vision, reality is global, and (barring certain speculative scenarios), the future should be global or globally influenced as well. I think there’s an obligation for Western writers who work within science fiction to engage with both western and non-western cultures. Otherwise, we do end up with white-washed (western-washed) futures and I think that the effect of this on the cultural imagination is wholly negative; the future isn’t just for white westerners. I think it’s a particularly pernicious form of erasure.

Excerpt:

In “Betraying the Babaylan,” Araneta Cruz describes the technique of divide and conquer which the Spanish employed to disempower the Babaylan and effectively erase them. The first thing that the Spanish did was to alienate the effeminate Babaylan from the women priestesses. They also gained the support of the tribal elite in their cause to wipe out the Babaylan through the use of bribery and promises of power. With the male Babaylan and the elite on their side, the Spanish friars went on to accuse the Babaylan of being of the devil and of practicing witchcraft.

While I narrate events that are specific to the Philippines, I find myself wondering if such events were also mirrored in countries that were colonized by foreign powers. How pervasive is that other culture? How much has it stolen from or killed of the original culture?

When I look at my country, I see how much these things have harmed our psyche and I also see the resilience of our culturebearers who employed whatever means was at their disposal to preserve our culture. Even so, the wounds have spread deep and there are certain things that demonstrate to us how deeply rooted colonialism is.

Even to this day, we see young women buying whitening creams because white is perceived as the ideal color. I long to tell my fellow Filipinos, there is nothing more beautiful than kayumanggi (brown).

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 8

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 18 - 2012

 

Editors Dean and Nikki Alfar invite you to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 8.

Philippine Speculative Fiction is a yearly anthology series, which collects a wide range of stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between. The anthology has been shortlisted for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, and multiple stories from each volume have been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:
1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements and/or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related ‘nonrealist’ genres and subgenres
2. written in English
3. authored by persons of Philippine ethnicity and/or nationality

Submissions are preferred to be:
1. original and unpublished
2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500
3. written for an adult audience
In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work—if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:
1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other publishing market until you have received a letter of regret from us. We don’t mind if you submit to contests.
2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to nikkialfar@gmail.com, with the subject line ‘PSF8 submission’.
3. The deadline for submissions is 11 p.m., Manila time, September 15, 2012. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Editors’ notes:
1. Please don’t forget to indicate your real name in the submission email! If you want to write under a pseudonym, that’s fine, but this can be discussed upon story acceptance. Initially, we just need to know who we’re talking to.
2. If you’d like to write a cover letter with your brief bio and publishing history (if applicable), do feel free to introduce yourself—but not your story, please. If it needs to be explained, it’s probably not ready to be published.
3. We advise authors to avoid fancy formatting—this will just be a waste of your time and ours, since we will, eventually, standardize fonts and everything else to fit our established house style.

Authors of selected stories will receive Php500 pesos in compensation, as well as digital copies of the book.

Please help spread the word! Feel free to copy this and paste it anywhere you see fit that happens to be legal. :)

Thanks,
Dean and Nikki Alfar, co-editors

Join us… Jooooiiiin uuussss… *hiss*

Ebook Launch: Philippine Speculative Fiction volumes 1 and 2

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 12 - 2012

The Philippine Speculative Fiction series is the first and longest running Philippine published speculative fiction anthology, but while it has achieved critical success, the limited print runs have made the books, particularly the earlier volumes, difficult to find (volume 1 in particular has been sold out for-ever). This is especially true for anyone who doesn’t live in the Metro Manila area, and all the more for those who live outside the Philippines.

Fortunately, the publishers/editors of the series have reached an agreement with Flipside Digital Content to re-release the series in digital form. As of today, the first two volumes (both edited by Dean Francis Alfar) are available on Amazon.com and Flipreads, at very attractive prices:

  • Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 1 – US$0.99 on Amazon, PHP 80.00 on Flipreads (epub)
  • Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 2 - US$3.99 on Amazon, PHP 195.00 on Flipreads (epub)

If you’re missing these books from your PSF set, or if you’ve been waiting for the right time to try the series out, here’s the perfect opportunity. Complete table of contents for both volumes after the cut. If you want to read a sample story, I reprinted Yvette Tan’s “The Child Abandoned” from PSF2 in Usok #1. Read it here.

Read the rest of this entry »

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]

Read the rest of this entry »

There are two exciting new Amazon Kindle releases from Filipino creators today (courtesy of Flipside Digital): First up is “Lower Myths” by Eliza Victoria, who has contributed to Usok, Ruin and Resolve, and Alternative Alamat.

Lower Myths features two compelling novellas of contemporary fantasy from Eliza Victoria, one of the most talented young writers in Asian speculative fiction today. In “Trust Fund Babies,” children of two warring witch and fairy families face off in the final round to a centuries-old vendetta.

In “The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol,” an aristocrat and his daughter consult a famous lawyer-sibling pair about a mysterious crime. But in the lawyers’ hilltop mansion by the sea, they uncover sinister hints that their reality may not be what it seems.

 

The second release is a revised edition of “Marco’s Delivery Service“. If you read my review of the original work, you may be interested in this version, as I worked with creator Koi Carreon to iron out the kinks and flesh out the story, in order to–we hope–create product that retains the great art and retro-futuristic world, while adding some narrative polish. Fans of old school anime like Outlaw Star should definitely check it out.

Kickstarter Project: “Scheherazade’s Facade”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 19 - 2012

So, before I pass around the hat on behalf of “Scheherazade’s Facade“, a singular new anthology of fantasy stories with a gender bending theme, I need to provide some context: I have a story in this anthology–in fact, this is my first international sale. I’ve known that for a while now, and I’ve been dying to share the news, but for the longest time I wasn’t even sure if this anthology would ever see the light of day. Now, at last, publication seems possible, but the anthology needs some help to get off the ground, and so my editor, Michael Jones, has taken “Scheherazade’s Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing, and Transformation ” to Kickstarter. Here’s a bit about the theme:

“For this collection, I looked for a wide variety of things.  First, all stories had to be fantasy. “High, low, dark, historical, romantic, urban, mythical – just about anything goes as long as it has those fantastic elements to it.”  Second, I wanted “stories in which the protagonist or other major characters are disguised or transformed, or otherwise challenge traditional gender roles … heroes and villains, warriors and tricksters, drag queens and cross-dressers, cisgendered, transgendered, and everything in-between.”

Over at the Kickstarter page, you can read about the torturous path the book has taken to publication, and also catch a glimpse of why I’m honored to be part of the anthology: it will have original stories from the likes of Aliette de Bodard and Tanith Lee (TANITH LEE). More than that, the theme is about challenging the status quo. I’d plug this project even if I wasn’t a contributor (just like I plugged the call for submissions way back when) but,  if my being involved makes you want to support it, hey, I’ll take it! My story is called “Kambal Kulam”, and it takes place in a world much like our own, except that sorcery is common enough that one can make a living from the curse-protection racket. “Kambal Kulam” is about desperate sorcerers, a Quiapo fortuneteller, and why you should never assume that a curse is meant to kill…

As always, there are rewards for pledges (from US$5.00 to US$80.00) so head on over to the Kickstarter page if you’d like to support a unique anthology, and feel free to link there or to this page if you’d like to spread the word!

Reminder: PGS Online Call for Submissions

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 6 - 2012

Just a note to all you writers out there: PGS Online is still open for submissions until April 30, 2012. Editor Kenneth Yu has a pretty damn good track record of finding new talent, so first-time writers are highly encouraged to submit. The worst that can happen is that you’ll get a rejection, and that’s just a part of the writer’s life–and, really, Kyu is one of the nicest editors out there. (That doesn’t mean he isn’t *picky*, mind you, just that you can be pretty sure he isn’t going to mock your manuscript or anything.) Click here for more details.

Flipreads Promo: Read an Ebook Week and Read Aloud Day

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 6 - 2012

Flipreads is running a promotion this week , in celebration of Read an eBook Week (which is this week, from March 4 to 10) and World Read Aloud Day(which is March 7, tomorrow). Flipreads has placed several digital titles on sale, and amongst these is our very own “Alternative Alamat” which is now being sold at the discounted price of PHP200 (down from the regular PHP235). A fine time to get your copy, if you haven’t purchased it already! Flipreads accepts payment via Globe Gcash, Smart Money, PesoPay, Paypal and Cashsense.

Better Living Through Xeroxography 2012

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 20 - 2012

Remember last year’s Better Living Through Xeroxography, small press and indie komiks event? Adam David and company are at it again on March 2, at Ilyong’s Cubao (same venue as last time). Here’s the official Facebook page and description:

A SMALL PRESS EXPO!!!

BOOKS / ZINES / KOMIX / FIRST 100 BOTTLES OF BEER FOR FREE / FREE VIDEOKE, TOO, BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO SING ON STAGE

QBCCC! HEIGHTS! UP WRITERS CLUB! THE PATRICK RAWWRR! THE GELO SUAREZ! THE ROB CHAM! HIGH CHAIR! THE MACOY! PAPER MONSTER PRESS! SILENT SANCTUM MANGA! THE TILDE ACUñA! THE YOUTH & BEAUTY BRIGADE! HAL.! KUBORI KIKIAM! TAPAT JOURNAL! THE OMENG ESTANISLAO! THE CABINET! AND MORE AS THEY SIGN UP!

MARCH 2, 2012 // ILYONG’S, KALANTIAW, PROJECT FOUR, CUBAO

Maps to the venue:
from the Cubao area > http://twitpic.com/tr6ok
from the UP/Ateneo area > http://twitpic.com/tr6za

Poster art > http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150485850937717.367672.574957716&type=1&l=2dac22c2a3

For inquiries and such about signing up
and whatever else, contact Adam David
via eMail > juncruznaligas@gmail.com
or via text > 09163063173


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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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