Alternative Alamat (Expanded Print Edition)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 15 - 2014

FAQ: ALTERNATIVE ALAMAT, THE EXPANDED PRINT EDITION

Hello there! I’m Paolo Chikiamco, editor of Alternative Alamat, and thank you so much for showing interest in the new, expanded, print edition! I’m here to give you some basic information about the book in a more informal manner, since that’s how I roll (and apparently, you as well!) but if you found your way here by mistake and want the more formal press release, I’m working on that. But for now…

What is Alternative Alamat?

Short version: It’s an anthology of short stories that re-imagine Philippine myths and legends, written in English by Filipino authors.

Long version: 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 thirteen 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 common in these thirteen 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 interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”), a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

What is the Expanded Print Edition?

Alternative Alamat was originally a digital-only anthology with eleven stories. This is the first print edition of Alternative Alamat, and we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to add some new content that keeps with the theme of re-imagined mythology.

What is the additional material?

This print edition adds two more stories,  a short comic from Andrew Drilon, and a new story from Eliza Victoria, set in the same universe as “Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” I’ve also done a minor update to the Appendix on researching Philippine mythology.

Where is it available?

It’ll be available at the launch on July 19,   Saturday [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] , as part of a four-title launch that takes place  at Powerbooks, Greenbelt. It will be available at bookstores nationwide soon after, but we don’t have exact dates yet.

How much does it cost?

250 pesos.

What are the non-fiction sections?

I have five appendixes at the end of the book, meant to provide greater context for the stories, and aid those who want to study Philippine mythology.

Appendix A: A Few Notable Philippine Deities

Appendix B: Interview with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben

Appendix C: Interview with Professor Fernando N. Zialcita

Appendix D: On Researching Philippine Mythology

Appendix E: Glossary of Selected Terms

Is it illustrated?

Yes, each of the original eleven stories is preceded by an illustration of a Philippine deity by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”). Aside from Andrew Drilon’s comic, there is no new artwork in the print edition, although a greyscale version of Mervin Malonzo’s cover for the digital edition is included.

Is the anthology suitable for young children?

In general, no, as there are several stories which tackle difficult/mature material.

Any there specific trigger warnings?

Sexual abuse; violence against women and children.

I’d like to review this book!

Great! Look forward to hearing from you.

Um, could I get a copy to review?

Drop me a line at rocketkapre[at]gmail with a link to your site/blog or name of your publication and I’ll try to set you up with a digital copy (of the print edition).

Should I buy the book?

I certainly think so! But then, I may be biased, so take a look below at what some people had to say about the original edition:

 

Guest Post: Eliza Victoria on Why We Read Horror

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 18 - 2013

Various commitments have me unable to post on Rocket Kapre as often as I like, so I’ll be reaching out to other Filipino writers/creators to do posts for the blog. First up is Usok and Alternative Alamat contributor (and friend) Eliza Victoria, who happens to have a new book out: Unseen Moon. Enjoy! – Paolo

I posted an announcement about my new collection of dark fiction, Unseen Moon, the same month two pressure cooker bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon. The following month, three women escaped from a house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, freeing themselves from a decade of sex slavery and confinement. In the face of real-life tragedy, who needs horror stories? I continue to write them, and I continue to read them, even as I sit paranoid in commuter buses and lock (and double-lock) my apartment door at night. Even my own poetry deals with crime and death.

In a recent interview with Neon Literary Magazine, I said that I am very interested in exploring the capacity of humans to be both kind and terrible. How kind? How terrible? According to reports, the alleged Cleveland kidnapper allegedly (don’t you just love/hate that word?) caused one of the captives to have miscarriages by punching her in the gut. In 2012, a 23-year-old woman in Delhi was raped by six men inside a bus, and died from her injuries days later. Can you imagine the kind of injury that woman’s body endured in order to cause her death? In 1974, five people in Utah were forced by armed robbers to drink Drano, a corrosive drain cleaner. It peeled away the flesh around their mouths.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Khmer Rouge massacres, the lynch mobs, the rape of our women during wartime, what happened in Maguindanao. And on and on.

That’s how terrible we are.

But why are we like this? Why do we commit these terrible deeds? Looking for the answer, some end up with clinical studies, and I end up with horror fiction.

Horror is a fact of life,” says Joyce Carol Oates, “and as a writer I’m fascinated by all facets of life. As H.P. Lovecraft has said, ‘The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ Horror or gothic literature is the most imaginative of all literatures, bearing an obvious relationship to the surreal logic of dreams.”

I enjoyed writing the stories in Unseen Moon. Dark fiction is challenging to write, and as a writer, you need constant challenges in order to improve your craft.

As a reader, I turn to dark fiction because it excites me, it intrigues me. In good horror tales, something always happens, and something always changes. And these tales share with you the kind of horror you can face head-on, unlike the horrors of the real world. You can finish a tale and be stunned and shaken, but still have enough cheer to sit down with your loved ones for dinner.

Robert McCammon, one of the founders of the Horror Writers Assocation, said, “Horror fiction upsets apple carts, burns old buildings, and stampedes the horses; it questions and yearns for answers, and it takes nothing for granted. It’s not safe, and it probably rots your teeth, too. Horror fiction can be a guide through a nightmare world, entered freely and by the reader’s own will. And since horror can be many, many things and go in many, many directions, that guided nightmare ride can shock, educate, illuminate, threaten, shriek, and whisper before it lets the readers loose.”

It “questions and yearns for answers”, but above all, it is a “guided nightmare ride”.

A horror story may be unsettling and shocking, but I know someone wrote it for me, and I know that someone will guide me, until the end.

Let me guide you, too.

Eliza Victoria‘s fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications in the Philippines and elsewhere. Her work has won prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards.

 

Unseen Moon, a collection of five stories, is her latest book. For more information, visit http://elizavictoria.com.

Book Launch: The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 5 - 2013

“The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010″ edited by Dean Francis Alfar & Nikki Alfar, and published by UP Press, will have a book launch on Feb 28, 2013, 5:50PM, at the UP Bahay Kalinaw. Making the cut is my science fiction short story “Carbon” from PSF5. Here’s a more complete description:

Between these covers are the best short stories of fantasy, horror, science fiction and genres in-between, selected from the first five years of the Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals. Step through the portal and explore worlds old and new and experience the power of the literature of the imagination as crafted by Filipino authors. Featuring stories by:  Rebecca Arcega FH Batacan Rica Bolipata-Santos Jose Elvin Bueno Ian Rosales Casocot Paolo Chikiamco Ronald Cruz Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon Timothy James M. Dimacali Andrew Drilon Russell Stanley Geronimo Pocholo Goitia Carljoe Javier Angelo R. Lacuesta Anne Lagamayo Apol Lejano-Massebieau Joseph F. Nacino Alexander Osias Kate Osias Vincent Michael Simbulan Joshua L. Lim So Charles Tan Yvette Tan Mia Tijam Noel Tio Eliza Victoria Isabel Yap Kenneth Yu

Update: “A Bottle of Stormclouds” Availability

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 14 - 2012

Based on the latest status update from publisher Visprint, Eliza Victoria’s A BOTTLE OF STORM CLOUDS (which we’ve mentioned before) is now available in the following locations, for P220.00:

Fully Booked – The Fort, Greenhills Promenade, Gateway Mall, SM Mall of Asia, The Block North EDSA, Rockwell, Shangri-la, Greenbelt 5, Trinoma

Bibliarch – Glorietta 3 and Waltermart Pasong Tamo

Pandayan Bookshop Metro Manila branches

The books will also be in stock soon at National Book Store, Powerbooks Store and all other provincial branches.

Cover Reveal: “A Bottle of Storm Clouds” by Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 24 - 2012

It’s with great pleasure that we learned that excellent author and friend of the site Eliza Victoria – who has contributed to Alternative Alamat, Usok, and Ruin and Resolve – will soon be releasing her first collection of short fiction. Entitled “A Bottle of Storm Clouds” (and if you’ve read her story from Alternative Alamat, you might know where that tile came from), it will be published by Visprint, and Eliza has released the cover image, with art and design by Karen Francisco, author of Naermyth. More details to follow!

Award-winning author Eliza Victoria mixes magic with the mundane in this special concoction of 16 short stories. A girl meets a young man with the legs of a chicken. A boy is employed by a goddess running a pawnshop. A group of teenagers are trapped in an enchanted forest for 900 days. A man finds himself in an MRT station beyond Taft, a station that was not supposed to exist. A student claims to have seen the last few digits of pi. Someone’s sister gets abducted by mermaids.

Includes stories that have appeared in the critically acclaimed anthologies Philippine Speculative Fiction and Alternative Alamat, and stories that have won prizes in the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards and the Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Literary Contest.

Published by Visprint.

209 pages, 6? x 9?

SRP PhP220

It’s a big, big week for Alternative Alamat contributors! Eliza Victoria (“Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.”) and Raissa Falgui (“The Sorceress Queen”) both have new novellas out – only one is clearly speculative fiction, but both are worth checking out. Also out this week is the digital edition of Philippine Speculative Fiction 6, where “Offerings to Aman Sinaya” by Andrei Tupaz, first appeared. (Mia Tijam and I have also been doing a story-by-story review here.)

THE VIEWLESS DARK by Eliza Victoria

When Anthony found Flo dead, locked overnight in one of the reading rooms of the university library, he knew it must have something to do with Mary. Mary Prestosa, fourth year graduating Philosophy student, whom they had been investigating. Mary, who surprised her roommate one night by suddenly standing up from her bed, throwing the windows open, and jumping down, headfirst, to the dormitory grounds below. Mary, whose memory marked the trail of mysterious deaths and bizarre occurrences that followed her own fateful fall: the fifth-year Computer Engineering student who prowled the campus on all fours, thirsty for blood, believing he was a wolf; the revelation of an all-girls’ satanic cult; the demonic possession of a fourth-year student from the Department of Psychology; and now—Flo, dead.

The students traced it all to Mary. They believed Mary didn’t commit suicide. They believed Mary tapped into something dark, and released it, and was consumed.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Viewless-Dark-ebook/dp/B008JF8JLU/
Flipreads: http://www.flipreads.com/book/the-viewless-dark/

WOMAN IN A FRAME by Raissa Falgui

In a darkened hall in a plain white box of a building was a portrait of a woman, a girl, really—an old-fashioned girl in a modern frame, leaning against the wall. Other paintings similarly arrayed surrounded her, waiting to take their places in the gallery.

Voices echoed in the room, a young man’s jeering and a young woman’s more tentative tones. Cool hands with long, delicate fingers lifted the portrait.

Perhaps what drew the young woman to this painting was the incongruity of a girl, grave and formal, set within the vibrant, flowing curves of the carved art nouveau frame. Perhaps it was the sense of kinship she felt. For the young woman, Ning, was the daughter of an artist, dreaming of becoming an artist. She knew nothing of the girl in the portrait, only that the intensity captured in the glimmer of its brush-stroked eyes reflected her own.

So begins Ning’s journey to her country’s colonial past to uncover the story behind the portrait—the story of Marcela.

It is 1896, and Marcela, of the renowned Simbulan artist family from Pino, Laguna, has fallen in love with Julio Benitez, a Spanish peninsular just come from Europe to woo the town’s belle: Raquel Riola, mestiza heiress. Torn between loyalties to family and nation, desire and social expectations, childhood and maturity, Marcela must learn to navigate dreams and deceptions to free her silenced love and stifled craft.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008JBJPMQ
Flipreads: http://www.flipreads.com/book/woman-in-a-frame

PHILIPPINE SPECULATIVE FICTION Volume 6 edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias

  • The Big Man by Asterio Gutierrez
  • Alternative Histories by Ian Rosales Casocot
  • Ashland by Elyss G. Punsalan
  • Carpaccio (or, Repentance as a Meat Recipe) by Arlynn Despi
  • The Grim Malkin by Vincent Michael Simbulan
  • From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me by Christine V. Lao
  • Prisoner 2501 by Philip Corpuz
  • A Smell of Mothballs by Mailin Paterno
  • Villainoguing by Joseph Montecillo
  • On Wooden Wings by Paolo Chikiamco
  • Break in at Batay Street by Francis Gabriel Concepcion
  • The Kiddie Pool by Kenneth Yu
  • Eternal Winter by Maria Pia Vibar Benosa
  • Lament of the Counselor by Jay Anyong
  • The Bookshelves of Mrs. Go by Charles Tan
  • Offerings to Aman Sinaya by Andrei Tupaz
  • Resurrection by Victor Ocampo
  • Strange Adventures in Procreation by Andrew Drilon
  • Hollowbody by Crystal Koo
  • The Storyteller’s Curse by Eliza Victoria
  • The Impossible and the R.S.C. Gregorio del Pilar by Alex Osias
  • Simon’s Replica by Dean Alfar

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008JBOBP2
Flipreads: http://www.flipreads.com/book/philippine-speculative-fiction-volume-6/

TOC: Horror – Filipino Fiction For Young Adults

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 17 - 2012

Editors Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu have announced the table of contents for their upcoming young adult horror anthology:

Honesty Hour – Gabriela Lee
Eat Me – Kally Hiromi R. Arsua
Mommy Agnes – Vince Torres
The Running Girl – Elyss Punsalan
Education By Ate Flora – Renelaine Bontol
The New Teacher – Alexander Osias
Gago’s Got Your Back – Andrew Drilon
Dan’s Dreams – Eliza Victoria
Itching To Get Home – Joseph Montecillo
Lola’s House – Fidelis Tan
A Yellow Brick Road Valentine – Charles Tan
Lucia, The Nightmare Hunter – Kate Osias
Frozen Delight – EK Gonzales
Misty – Isabel Yap

Congratulations to all the contributors, and the editors as well!

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

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.

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:

  • Amazon.com – US$4.99 (note there’s an extra US$2.00 charge for certain non-US territories/accounts, including, unfortunately, the Philippines)
  • Flipreads.com (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 »

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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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