Two horror anthologies are launching at the end of November. “Horror: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults”, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Kenneth Yu, and a print edition of “Demons of the New Year”, edited by Karl de Mesa and Joseph Nacino, both launch officially at5PM on November 29, 2013 at the West Wing Gallery of the Vargas Museum in UP Diliman. Drop by if you have the chance!

New(ish) Release: Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing – Stories by Kenneth Yu

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 23 - 2013

I missed plugging this when it came out in August, so time to rectify that: Kenneth Yu, the man behind Philippine Genre Stories, (finally) has a collection of his short stories out. It’s called “Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing” Stories by Kenneth Yu, and if that title sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the name of Kyu’s story in our first issue of Usok, which is also a part of this collection.It also includes the disturbing short, “Cherry Clubbing” which took 3rd place in the 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards.

Here’s the list of stories:

  • Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing
  • The Sparrows of Climaco Avenue
  • The Kiddie Pool
  • When You Let It Go
  • House 1.0
  • Cricket
  • Oplan: Bleach
  • Cherry Clubbing
  • The Concierto of Senor Lorenzo
  • Spider Hunt
  • Little Hands, Little Feet
  • Controller 13
  • All That We May See
  • One Morning at the Bank
  • Lost for Words
  • Beats

And here are the stores where you can buy your digital copy:

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

Last month, Lethe Press published “Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology”, edited by Charles Tan (and with a story from yours truly). Charles took a moment from his busy schedule to say a few words about the anthology.

“Lauriat” is an anthology of Filipino-Chinese speculative fiction that is being published by a U.S.-based publisher. How’d the idea for the antho come about, and what let to it being published outside the Philippines?

I was brainstorming possible anthology ideas when I realized no one yet has done a speculative fiction anthology based on Filipino-Chinese culture, which has its own set of complexities, relationships, and drama. Lethe Press has always been supportive of my work, and the publisher was willing to publish the anthology and pay the contributors.

When you say “Filipino-Chinese”, what do you mean by that?

The problem when people ask “Are you Filipino?”, “Are you Chinese?”, or something else (Are you Singaporean, American, Japanese, Australian, Indian, etc.) is that it’s usually misses out on the question whether we’re talking about nationality, ethnicity, etc. And it’s a question that comes up year after year, especially in the Philippines where there’s controversy over our athletes, our politicians, etc.

One personal bias I’ve experienced is how many Filipinos don’t consider the Chinese community here as Filipinos, even if we’re part of their culture. Many recognized Filipino icons for example has roots in the Filipino-Chinese community: Jollibee, SM, Pancit Canton, Taho, etc.

But when the term Filipino-Chinese is usually encountered, it usually means, at the very least, someone whose nationality is Filipino, and has had Chinese roots somewhere. I leave the last part ambiguous, whether this means to be part Chinese in culture, heritage, ethnicity, legacy, etc.

What aspects of Filipino and Chinese heritage would you say complement, or are similar to, each other? What aspects cause friction?

I think again, there is a misconception here. The “Chinese” in the Philippines aren’t the Chinese in China. The two have entirely different values, although it’s probably a misconception (even among the Filipino-Chinese community) that they do. There is a difference in the mindset between the Filipino-Chinese and non-Chinese Filipinos, but I don’t think isolating this and that element as “Chinese” and “Filipino” would be too easy.

For example, I think both Filipino-Chinese and non-Chinese Filipinos are fiercely loyal to people they consider their kin. They will fight to the death for them and take their side in a lot of arguments. On the other hand, this is also the source of conflict: for some Filipino-Chinese, those not “Chinese” aren’t as respectable (hence the taboo against marrying someone not Chinese), while many Filipinos consider those not ethnically Filipino to be against them (hence some enmity against the Filipino-Chinese community whom they consider separate from them).

There’s a lot to talk about with regards to the subject and unfortunately discussing each point would be too long for the interview.

Are there any unique challenges or opportunities that present themselves to Filipino-Chinese authors writing in English?

In terms of market, well, there is always the problem of finding a market in the Philippines that’s not limited to your cultural heritage (just look at the output of our fiction books vs. that in which we import and clearly the latter sells better than the former). As for the craft, there is the hurdle of writing for what is a multilingual culture and condensing it into a single language (English), when that isn’t always how we speak (we speak in Tag-lish, Chi-Tag-lish, and Chinese-Tagalog). Which isn’t that unique (it’s the same plight a lot of Filipino writers face), but remains there nonetheless.

Can you tell me a bit about a few of the stories you selected for the anthology, and go into why you selected them, or what struck you most about them?

I think each story in the anthology has something going for them, either on the craft level, cultural level, personal level, or some combination. What makes me enjoy the first story in the book isn’t what makes me appreciate the last. But I did want every story to factor in that this is a Filipino-Chinese anthology, so I wanted the culture to be a factor: some factor into the plot significantly (some stories for example dealt with the taboo of non-Chinese romance) while others are in the background.

Personally I leave it for readers to decide what they think is best. And this is an anthology, so I don’t expect every story to strike a chord in them, but hopefully a few do. I tried to encompass a lot of subjects and genres. There’s horror. There’s urban fantasy. There’s historical fantasy.

What does “Lauriat” have to offer to Filipino-Chinese readers? What about to those unfamiliar with the culture, or even with Philippine or Chinese culture separately?

First, I think Lauriat features a lot of terrific stories–which is subject to my bias of course. Second, it’s written by talented authors that the rest of the world hasn’t heard of. Third, while there’s some speculative fiction being written about Filipinos, not a lot of them deal with the Filipino-Chinese experience, and I hope the anthology rectifies that. Fourth, regardless of your knowledge about either culture, I think the stories stand well on their own.

What has the early feedback on the book been like?

For me the biggest challenge is getting the word out. I’d like to thank Publishers Weekly for reviewing it in their publication (http://christinevlao.blogspot.com/2012/06/publishers-weekly-reviews-lauriat.html) as well as Locus for mentioning it under their New Books (http://www.locusmag.com/Monitor/2012/08/new-books-14-august/). As far as feedback is concerned, a lot of the reviews are on Goodreads (http://www.locusmag.com/Monitor/2012/08/new-books-14-august/).

Where can the book be purchased?

Here’s a direct link to the Amazon page (http://www.amazon.com/Lauriat-Filipino-Chinese-Speculative-Fiction-Anthology/dp/1590212541) but it should can be ordered through bookstores and the eBook is available in a lot of online retailers such as Smashwords, Weightless Books, Wizard’s Tower Books, etc.

Publisher’s Weekly Reviews “Lauriat”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 26 - 2012

It’s always cool when local speculative fiction gets reviewed by international publications. This time around it’s a Publisher’s Weekly (hooray!) review of “Lauriat”, the upcoming Filipino-Chinese speculative fiction anthology edited by Charles Tan. It’s a largely positive review, and my story “The Captain’s Nephew”, gets a nice mention. The book will also have stories from Kristine Ong Muslim, Christine Lao, Fidelis Tan, Andrew Drilon, Yvette Tan, Kenneth Yu, Gabriela Lee, Crystal Koo, Margaret Kawsek, Isabel Yap, Erin Chupeco, Marc Gregory Yu, and Douglas Candano.

The anthology is being published in the U.S. by Lethe Press, and I hope the local bookstores order copies. It will be released on August 1, though you can pre-order from stores like Amazon as early as now.

PSF6 Review: “The Kiddie Pool” by Kenneth Yu

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 28 - 2012

Kyu’s strength as a writer lies in the details.

That sentence made me pause and go into a trance, there’s a load of insight right there haha.;)

[Pao: That's what I like about you Mia--you always think I'm smarter than I actually am :P ]

——Awww, you’re selling yourself short, man. Shucks, such charming humility. :p

One of the most difficult skills to learn as a writer is how to include enough detail in a scene to make it feel like it’s occurring in an actual place, to make the characters and actions take on enough substance in the mind of the reader that he/she has a foundation for his/her imagination.

Ah the anchors for the imagination— I say let the imagination fly, oh beauty, fly!

[Pao: Heh. Savants aside, most of us still need some solid ground from which to launch ourselves. Or maybe it's just lazy readers like me :) ]

This is particularly important when you’re dealing with a mundane setting, such as the public pool or a dim corridor, and Kyu does a good job putting in enough detail so that I see an image, and not a string of words.

Well, the title makes it all obvious— of course it will involve swimming and pool and how much detailing do you need for that— and so predictability comes after.

But yeah stories with that kind of treatment ensure that readers will see the same things that the storyteller wants us to see. This story is very clear and given the detailing then we do move from one scene to another. Smooth. Experiencing it though the way the storyteller wants the reader to experience it— or how the story should be experienced— is the challenge.

I also enjoyed the reveal of the ghost of the woman, since it captures the feeling I’ve had before while swimming, that the surface world would change once I turned my attention back to it.

Hey, I like any story that captures the sensation of swimming or being underwater, that sort of sensory deprivation. But even that ghost-woman’s revelation’s predictable and flat. I felt that there was nothing horrifying or even any uncanny sensation that should have been triggered by how one’s senses change in and upon surfacing from deprivation, that synesthesia that could make anyone believe that hearing unto seeing a ghost is normal. The foreshadowing was literally there but it was just too there therefore did not build up the way it should. It’s all in the details.

[Pao: But didn't it seem like the intent was to divest the change/revelation of that horror, that sense of wrongness? I mean, this is clearly not a traditional horror story. If anything, it seems intent on domesticating the supernatural element, so that "flatness" may have been the aim.]

Some of that detail, however, is fleshed out within sentences that feel rather awkward, like they go on for just a few words too long. This issue with sentence structure, compounded by some odd word choices, bleeds into a more serious concern: the protagonist does not sound like a young man. (This was particularly problematic since it was told from a first person perspective, where the assumption is that the narration is in the POV character’s own words.)

Haha besides the issues with the comma use that was making me sing ala Boy George “Comma, comma, comma, comma, commaleon, you come and go!” and the misuse of the quotation marks in dialogue— usually if the next paragraph’s still part of one character’s dialogue, then one doesn’t end the paragraph with a quotation mark; one keeps it open because otherwise the next paragraph with a quotation mark signals that the line is being made by another character so that really threw me off (see page 106)—

There are ways that one can pull this off, but that dissonance should be contextualized, or at the very least acknowledged–I could see the strange manner of speaking/thinking of the protagonist to be one of the factors that alienate him from his peers, but that’s me retconning (short for “retroactive continuity”, or “the alteration of previously established facts in a fictional work” – Mia made me explain this) what was not implied by the text.

Use the full term nga kasi haha. Anyway, precisely. I saw it as the POV-POSSESSION-PROBLEM i.e. Parang sinsasaniban yun “I” with the “S/H/It” hahahaha. Meaning, the story was using the First Person POV for internal and external reality but it would unwittingly switch to 3rd Person POV for the external reality WHILE trapped in the I-POV. That created the dissonance which cast doubt on the authenticity of the characterization of the main character.

Simply: The main character’s a male tween or maybe a male young adult BUT his mind, his reactions, his language are of a much older adult… Exorcise the Author from the Character hahahaha.;)

If this were told in the 3rd Person POV then it might have worked better.  Or since the story really wants to tell the story from the perspective of the tween male, then the perception: language: narrative should be of the character.

[Pao: I have to agree, this was a third person POV story in 1st person clothing to me.]

The other primary issue I had with the story is a bit harder to quantify, so bear with me as I feel my way through this. It just didn’t seem… substantial. (No, that’s not a pun on the fact that the story involves a ghost.) I didn’t get the feeling that what happened in the story really mattered to the protagonist–the story is bookended by two encounters with the opposite sex (one taking place just before the story starts), and the protagonist’s emotional state in both situations is almost identical.

Maybe this shows one snapshot of the state of folks nowadays: it’s a very “whatever” reaction. (That word has my derision. Next to “thingie”.)

[Pao: Wait, you lost me a bit. Who are the "folks"? The youth in the story? The reader?]

——Folks= World. But let’s make it more specific so I’m referring to people in the Philippines.  Yeah, that includes the youth in the story and maybe even the reader. Hahaha, let’s just go back to folks= world.

Yes, the outcome is different, but the immediate cause of that seems to be the advice given to him by the lifeguard–which means that you can cut out the bulk of the story, which contains the speculative element, and have the same ending.

Hahaha, Pao, the real advice from the lifeguard that altered reality is this: Kid, dealing with girls is like dealing with ghosts. Just say “Hi” and they’ll talk to you. Katakot hahahaha.

[Pao: Ah, Mia, I take it you've never been to a Xavier-ICA Acquaintance Party? Sometimes the "Hi" is what initiates the ignoring…]

——Hahahaha 1) Last time I checked I didn’t attend ICA nor Xavier. 2) I skipped high school          boys and went straight to college dudes and yuppies hahaha so that I won’t have to go               through that kind of high school horror. 3) I went to a high school for aliens nga eh.

Add to this how, during his encounter with the speculative, the protagonist is emotionally detached and is somehow made to act rather than acting intentionally (he takes a route “for some reason”; he knows “somehow, not to rush”) and I just don’t feel connected to the events of the story, or invested in how it will turn out.

It’s the predictability that comes from the narrative being too telling and not showing or leaving some things unsaid that led to a reader’s detachment. Welcome to clinical horror that makes horror literal and not cerebral nor visceral (and man I keep seeing this in local short-fiction “horror” stories/collections).

[Pao: But is this a horror story? I don't think that was the aim at all. I think that this was the mainstream literary "revelation during an ordinary day" story, with ghosts.]

——Hahahaha, and here come my bitch-ass:

——1) The hell was it doing in PSF 6 then if its identity is just according to what you             stipulated? Ah, there seems to be a precedent for this emerging trend in this volume (and    previous volumes). Which is why there’s been a call for a more specific definition of what                is “speculative fiction”.

——2) It’s “Horror” according to the “Best Horror of the Year” volume 4 honorable mentions          by Ellen Datlow.

——3) Welcome to the discourse on horror now being officially opened: What is/was        horror? What has been “horrifying” in the “horror” stories published since 2005? What are          the elements of horror? What is horror in Philippine Speculative Fiction?

——4) The gates of that heart of darkness are now open: abandon luck ye who enter here,            the horror, the horror, bwahahaha.

Going back to Kyu’s Kiddie Pool,  the reader’s detachment is already staged given the protagonist’s detachment.  For reference, see paragraph with “I was not so much afraid as I was curious about the woman…” on page 104.

I usually try to avoid mentioning/comparing previews works of the author, but I did review Kyu’s PSF4 story, “Beats”, and that had a similar vibe to this one (down to the strong role of water), and yet it worked much better for me. I like the quiet stories where the surface calm can still give the impression of deep, churning, currents (again, not making any puns here) but “The Kiddie Pool” just didn’t make me feel that there was more to it than met the eye.

Hahahaha! Pao! I’m so not gonna edit out that comparison (boils and gels he edits out my comparisons because they do make things bloodier) but what I do like about Kyu’s stories is that they experiment with the story-language that is rooted on the character’s language/reality therefore making his stories distinct from the lot.

Hey, the tween/young adult from the story did advise that it’s good to hug out things so let’s hug this out.;)

And, regardless of the fact that the story didn’t quite work for us, congratulations to Kyu for making Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mention list for “The Best Horror of the Year” (volume 4) with this story!

 

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!

Congratulations to Kenneth Yu and Kristine Ong Muslim, whose works have been singled-out by editor Ellen Datlow for Honorable Mention in the upcoming volume 4 of “The Best Horror of the Year“. Kenneth’s inclusion was due to “The Kiddie Pool,” from Philippine Speculative Fiction 6, and Kristine was cited for her two poems, “The Invisible,” in Unspoken Water #1 and “The Seventh Stranger,” Paper Crow, fall. Huzzah!

EDIT: Seems Kyu and Kristine aren’t the only ones! Here are the others:

  • Tina del Rosario “Scars,” Heights Senior Folio
  • “Less Talk, Less Mistake” by Xin Mei, Philippine Genre Stories (Crime Issue)
  • “God is the Space Between” by Maryanne Moll, Philippine Genre Stories (Crime Issue)
  • The Departure” by Marianne Villannueva, Philippine Genre Stories Online

Congrats again!

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.

PGS Online Call For Submissions (2012)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 1 - 2012

Philippine Genre Stories (PGS) Online has opened today to fiction submissions by Filipino writers, and will remain open until April 30, 2012. You can find the full details here.  Note that while PGS Online does publish stories in Filipino, I’ve confirmed with editor Kenneth Yu that the present call is only for stories in English. I think that I’ve mentioned before how PGS, in its original print, always-open-to-submissions incarnation, was instrumental in jump starting the writing careers of many Filipino authors, like myself, and I’m certain it will continue to do so in its shiny online edition. So, writers, submit and spread the word!

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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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