RRT: Favorite First Lines in Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 9 - 2010

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One year ago, 9/9/09, Rocket Kapre officially launched. In celebration of our first year anniversary, here’s a new installment of one of our most popular features: the Rocket Round Table. For this batch, the question – to coincide with the anniversary – is: “What is your favorite first line in speculative fiction?” Prose and graphic novels/comics were fair game (movies and television were not), as were local and foreign works – I only asked that the respondents include any first lines from Filipino-made spec fic that stood out for them. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Thanks to all those who took time to participate in the round table, and for all those who have supported Rocket Kapre in its first year. Here’s to many more to come!

[Warning: Some language may not be safe for work, or children, or adults who like to pretend they're as innocent as children.]

ELBERT OR Comic book creator, university lecturer, graphic designer, freelance writer, entrepreneur (he’s part of Brain Food, which gives speech and writing workshops) Elbert is a jack of all trades and master of… well, lots. He currently runs Global Art and the Komiksabado Comics Workshop.

Happy first year, RK! How time flies!
I owe much of my interest in current Philippine SF to Dean Alfar’s “Kite of Stars,” and its first line/ paragraph which grabbed firm hold of me and has still not let me go:

The night when she thought she would finally be a star, Maria Isabella du’l Cielo struggled to calm the trembling of her hands, reached over to cut the tether that tied her to the ground, and thought of that morning many years before when she’d first caught a glimpse of Lorenzo du Vicenzio ei Salvadore: tall, thick-browed and handsome, his eyes closed, oblivious to the cacophony of the accident waiting to occur around him.

I wish I could say though that memory allowed me to remember each word, but I admit only to committing the first eleven words. But the blame lies solely on me and my poor memory.

Here’s to the next ten years for Rocket Kapre!

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CATHERINE BATAC WALDERCatherine is based in England and works as a research group administrator at the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. From 2005 to 2007, she moved across Norway, Finland and Portugal for a European MPhil. scholarship. Her fiction appears in Big Pulp, Demons of the New Year, Philippines Graphic, Ruin and Resolve Anthology, Expanded Horizons, and Philippines Free Press. She blogs at http://deckshoes.wordpress.com/

Just when the idea occurred to her that she was being murdered she could not tell.” – The Small Assassin, comics adaptation of a tale by Ray Bradbury

At some time near dawn, on March 25, 1913, there came a loud knocking at the front door of the Uyterhoevens’ home in the Dayton View section of Dayton, Ohio.” – The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses.” – Fade by Robert Cormier

““I can do this,” I told my squirrel.” - Speed Dating and Spirit Guides by Rod M. Santos

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.” – Spar by Kij Johnson

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years.” – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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G.M. CORONELA Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University in 1985, he is a first-time author with no literary background to speak of other than a genuine love of reading and a passion for writing. Coming across back issues of Writer’s Digest a few years ago started his writing career. Some previous personal encounters with the paranormal convinced him to pursue the horror genre. He believes that stories to tell and experiences to share are best put in written words. He is the author of Tragic Theater.

The night wind howls like a wounded dying animal.” (Trese Murder on Balete Drive) — This is a very compelling first line and it engages the reader’s interest in the story.

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DON JAUCIAN - Don regularly reviews books for several publications, both print and on-line. He is the resident bitch of the film blog Pelikula Tumblr. His book dump is http://chinoisdead.livejournal.com

The Ascension of Our Lady Boy – Mia Tijam (PDF of Expanded Horizons #14, which includes the story.)

Let us begin with my earliest memory as a lady: Daddy had complained to Iyay who was my yaya(and his yaya before and his mama’s yaya before that) that I was lacking something strong in my bones and in my hips.

Tijam’s Lady Boy is hands down one of my favorite spec fic stories. It effectively combined Philippine culture, gay-isms and the whole ‘triumph of the heart’ thing. I like how the first line promises a wonderful story, equal parts whimsical and endearing, like Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and it really delivers.

Visitors – Luis Katigbak

When they first arrived, they transformed themselves into everything we ever secretly wanted to be.

Stories of ‘encounters’ are never amusing. They mostly run as dubious paranoiac rants but in a few words, Katigbak manages to brush off the fluff usually associated with this tripe. ‘Visitors’ is beautiful, a different approach into the Wonderful World of Alien Mysteries; humanized and hopeful.

Brigada – Joey Nacino

When the news came, Captain Fernando Tabora of the Philippine Navy was meeting with the two-man salvage team at the top of Manila Hotel.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories and Manila Hotel underwater is just too awesome to ignore. Just like the head of Statue of Liberty chopped off in Cloverfield!

Flicker – Ian Rosales Casocot

Something had apparently come to live, or stir, in the house down the road, that old mansion on the corner before one turned left down Mango Street, which led toward the coconut groves that bordered the farthest end of the village.

Suburban horror stories always fascinate me and Casocot’s ‘Flicker’ definitely sustains the tension from the first sentence to the last. It is eerie, ominous and it’s refreshing to see a horror story devoid of hysterics and cheap scare tactics.

[More after the cut]

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Pakinggan Pilipinas, a Philippine Podcast, Launches!

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 1 - 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas

Pakinggan Pilipinas, the first (I think) monthly podcast for narrated Philippine fiction, has released its first episode today, with Dean Francis Alfar’s Six from Downtown, read by Kate Aton-Osias and Blue Soon. Pakinggan Pilipinas is the brainchild of speculative fiction author Elyss Punsalan, and while these stories won’t always fall within the spec fic genre, given Elyss’ tastes, I’m betting we’ll be hearing a lot of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the just plain weird on this podcast. If the first story sounds familiar, that’s because it has been around the block a few times, having appeared in Philippines Free Press (2006),  Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2 (2006, Kestrel),  Kite of Stars and Other Stories (2007, Anvil), and online as part of the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler,  and I think that it’s still the only work of Philippine spec fic so far to be mentioned in a post on io9.

If you’re interested in helping out with this new project, check this page to see how you can help. Congratulations to Elyss and all those involved.

Launch: Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 7 - 2010

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The website is still a work in progress, but Charles Tan, of the Bibliophile Stalker blog and a few hundred (minor exaggeration) others,  has announced that the ebook version of his new reprint anthology, “The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009″ is now available for free download. You can choose from either the PDF edition or the EPUB edition. (If you have the Stanza desktop ebook reader you can export the EPUB file to different file formats–say, if you want a .mobi file for your Kindle/Kindle reader, although such conversions usually junk the formatting). The anthology has cover art Elbert Or, a cover design by Adam David, (who also did the PDF layout and design) qith the Web and EPUB layout handled by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca.

Sixteen stories from fifteen authors, selected by one of the most well-read and difficult-to-please critics in the country–all for free? What are you waiting for?

Charles is the co-editor (alongside Mia Tijam) of the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, which was released in 2008.  I hope that this is the start of an annual compilation (and I hope that this isn’t the only yer a story of mine qualifies ^_^)

Here’s the full table of contents. Congratulations to Charles and all those involved:

  • Summation 2009 by Charles Tan
  • The Fires of the Sun in a Crystalline Sky by Francezca C. Kwe
  • The Day the World Lost Its Gravity by Camsy Ocumen
  • Strange Weather by Dean Francis Alfar
  • The Sewing Project by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
  • Lex Talionis by Paolo Chikiamco
  • Isa by Marianne Villanueva
  • Spelling Normal by Mia Tijam
  • Daddy by Yvette Tan
  • From Abecediarya by Adam David
  • The Annotated Account of Tholomew Mestich by Elyss G. Punsalan
  • Beats by Kenneth Yu
  • Wildwater by Crystal Koo
  • Moondown and Fugue by Alexander Drilon
  • The Maiden’s Song by Kate Aton-Osias
  • Capture by Gabriela Lee
  • The Secret Origin of Spin-man by Andrew Drilon

Philippine Speculative Fiction 5 Launch: Videos (Batch 1)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 26 - 2010

The launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 5 took place last Saturday, April 24, 2010, at Fully Booked Bonifacio Hight Street, and this is my first batch of videos from the event, for the benefit of those unlucky enough to be elsewhere while we were laughing it up (usually at the expense of Kenneth Yu, or Andrew Drilon, or any author who was absent from the launch :P ). Please excuse the rather shaky footage, low volume, and occasional passer-by – we were way at the back of the U-View Theater.


These are the introductory remarks of Dean Alfar, speaking on behalf of his publishing house, Kestrel DDM, which has put out the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology for the past five years.

Dean marvels at the fact that this is the fifth volume of the anthology, and talks about the thrill of finding new, young, spec fic writers in the course of putting together each anthology. At the end, he introduces the two co-editors, Vincen Michael Simbulan and Nikki Alfar. (All in the process of gamely resisting the urge to give a political speech ~_^)

The PSF launches are always good fun – the audio isn’t too clear alas, but Kenneth Yu’s expert pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull alone was enough to provide laughs for the rest of the afternoon. Dean is a marvelous (glorious?) host, and he uses the understandable absence of the foreign contributors as a constant source of good-natured humor that helped make everyone feel at home (I speak from experience, having attended the previous launch as a mere spectator).

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Reminder: PSF Volume 5 Launches Tomorrow

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 23 - 2010

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This Saturday (that’s tomorrow!), April 24, 2010, at 3 p.m. Philippine Speculative Fiction V (edited by Nikki Alfar and Vin Simbulan) launches at the U-View Theater of Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street (it’s in the basement). Check out the cover above (from Dean Alfar’s site), which manages to look great even without going with my suggested Voltes V theme. If last year’s volume IV launch is any indication, expect a lot of fun, and a lot of jokes made at Kenneth Yu’s expense. Most of the author-contributors should be there as well (myself included), so do drop by if you want to say hi, or want your copy signed. You can see a list of all the contributors over at Dean’s site.

See you all there!

3rd PGFA: What Neil Said

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 18 - 2010

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No, I don’t mean at the press conference–you can head over to Azrael’s for some coverage–but during the event itself, where he commented about each of the winning entries (in the main contest, not the people’s choice). Again, I wasn’t there for the film category, but here’s what he said about the winners for prose and comics (because you can never have enough reminders that Neil Gaiman called your story “glorious” ^_^):

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Prose

(Bibliophile Stalker has sound files of Neil’s commentary on the prose winners here.)

Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu: “… the voice is really really good, and its really, seriously nasty. It’s the only story that I’ve ever read in which half way through sort of the first page I thought ‘Oh I got it. He’s a pedophile!’ And then I realize no, no, no… it’s so much worse than that. But it’s a beautiful little story… the way the story is told is as important as the content. It’s very good, very, very imaginative.”

Remembrance by Dean Alfar: “…it’s a story about death, and what we take with us when we die. Beautifully written, haunting, managing at exactly the same time to be both incredibly depressing and incredibly uplifting. The combination of these two things at once is what made it as a story for me.”

Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento: “…as those people who voted for it would know… it’s funny and it’s angry… nice, solid, futuristic science fiction that is fundamentally a satire of things going on today. And it’s great. A lovely piece of work.”

A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano: “Every now and then you think that you’ve seen it all, and a staple of science fiction is telepathy… What’s glorious about A Kind of Flotsam is that it’s the story of a the life of someone either blessed or cursed with telepathy. And she says something new. It’s really very, very beautiful, very, very moving, and I think at the end… there’s a moment which for me, I thought was glorious: that what unites us in the end is connection, the ability to hold out, to reach out, and eventually touch. Beautifully done, and very, very much a deserving first place winner.”

Comics

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Winners: 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 17 - 2010

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Had to leave the event early, but had time to hear the winners of the prose and comics categories, [Edit: Thanks to Diabelle and Charles for the additional info] so here goes:

Prose:

1st Place:  A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

2nd Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

3rd Place: (Tie) Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu and Remembrance by Dean Alfar

People’s Choice 1st Place: Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento

People’s Choice 2nd Place: A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano

People’s Choice 3rd Place: The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin

Comics:

1st Place:OK this is a bit confusing. There was apparently no first place prize awarded because the entry that won was “published during the contest period”, but they did acknolwedge the piece that would have won – I See by Manuel Abrera

2nd Place: Douglas by Genevieve Go

3rd Place: (Love) at Last Sight by Heubert Khan Michael

People’s Choice 1st Place: Hunger by Jeremiah D. Faustino and Norman Jim Faustino

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Raisinhead: A Tale of a Modern-Day Tiyanak by Christian Oliver A. Cruz

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Traffick by Alarice A. Francisco

Film:

1st place: No winner (see comment below. Thanks Diabelle!)

2nd Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by  Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina (Thanks Charles! His comment below and blog post are the source of the rest of the Film winners)

3rd Place: Squatters from Mars by Rommel Sales

People’s Choice 1st Place: Kumot ng Panaginip by Jedd Chris P. Dumaguina

People’s Choice 2nd Place: Anak ng Tikbalang by Desiree Ann C. Samson

People’s Choice 3rd Place: Embrace by Ron Sapinoso

Will post again tomorrow with some pictures, and maybe some vids on Friday. In the meantime, congratulations to all the winners :)

3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards: Shortlists

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 19 - 2010

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As mentioned on the Philippine Genre Stories blog, Fully Booked, in cooperation with Pelicola, has published the stories, comics, and films which made it to the respective shortlists of the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards.  While I assume the respective winners have already been selected, you can help determine the winners of the People’s Choice Award in each category by voting for your favorite at the links above. Congratulations to all those who made the short list!

For your convenience,  here’s the shortlist in each category:

PROSE SHORTLIST:

1. Babymakers by Laura Jermina R. Abejo
2. Leg Men by Dominique Gerald Cimafranca
3. Cherry Clubbing by Kenneth Yu
4. The Sweet Stranger by Michael A.R. Co
5. A Kind of Flotsam by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano
6. Won’t You Be My Friend, Mr. Faceless Creature of Evil? by Karlos de Mesa
7. The Street Child and the Dwarf by Diabelle Joy M. Pazcoguin
8. Filipina: The Super Maid by Irene Carolina A. Sarmiento
9. Remembrance by Dean Alfar
10. Pursuit of the Litaniera by Elyrose G. Punsalan

(Comics and Film categories after the cut)

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World SF Needs Your Help

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 20 - 2010

… specifically, the excellent World SF News Blog, an excellent source of news, interviews and features (we’ve linked to them many times) which casts a spotlight on speculative fiction and comics worldwide, especially works from authors/or which originate from places beyond the traditional bastions of the genre in the U.S.A. and the U.K. (Yes, that includes us here in the Philippines, as Bibliophile Stalker Charles Tan is one of the contributors.)

The WSNB is a companion blog to the Apex Book of World SF and now they’re asking for some help from readers in order to sell 92 more copies of the book by the end of January, as a way to support the site. In case you didn’t know, and could use another reason to support the site and the book, the Apex  Book of World SF contains “The Kite of the Stars” by our very own Dean Alfar.

The book has received good reviews so far–here are a few I found online:

(Image source: Amazon.com)

Chained Links: 21 December 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 22 - 2009

For your pre-Christmas edition of our link round-up, we’ve got a site launch, writing tidbits and a smattering of history:

EPressSitte

Site Launch:

  • The official Estranghero Press website is now up and running (although parts remain, as per internet tradition, “under construction”).

Books and the Writing Craft:

  • Speaking of Estranghero Press, here are a few interesting posts from Joey Nacino’s blog, one on local monsters, and another on the inclusion of an editor’s own story in his/her anthology (the latter with bonus flame-y flavor in the comments, if that floats your boat).
  • Mitali Perkins on why she writes multicultural books. (Via Stacy Whitman)
  • For essay writers, poets and artists, there’s a call for submissions for Duguang Lupa, a chapbook of reactions to the Ampatuan Massacre. (via PGS)
  • In the Nick of Time” a free Holiday Sampler put together by J.C. Hutchins with excerpts from a dozen new novels and nonfiction books by authors such as Laurell Hamilton, Cory Doctorow and Joseph Finder. (via Tor.com)
  • The 43rd Bookworms Carnival covering books on/related to mythology (we contributed our post on Anvil’s Treasury of Stories)
  • The Apex Book of World SF (which includes a story by Dean Alfar) is available for the Kindle, and for  free worldwide shipping in dead-tree form. (via World SF News Blog)

Event Coverage:

Historical Documents: (via Filipiniana.net)

Contests and Sales:

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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.

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