PSF6 Review: “The Big Man” by Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 27 - 2011

This post is a part of our story-by-story review of Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6. You can see the introductory post, and our disclaimers here. Bold font is Mia Tijam, everything else is Paolo Chikiamco.

— The title? It just made me shrug. What do you think of it?

[Pao: A nice play on words, since that's a common term in basketball.]

Gutierrez’s story has been the most well received by readers so far (it recently won first place in the coveted Palanca Awards, in the Short Story in English category) and there is a lot to like in the story.

I see why this one won the Palanca. The crafting of the story is right up that award’s alley. It has that polished/smart/epic feel to it and brought median reverberations of Douglas Candano and Pocholo Goitia stories. If it is the most well received by readers then it’s because the whole thing just flows (right after you get into the groove of it by page 3) on the readability radar.

As an old-school PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) fan–I started way back during the Tanduay-Ginebra feud, when my Mom worked at La Tondeña and I wouldn’t shake Robert Jaworski’s hand even if I was paid to–I appreciated the level of research that went into the story.

I’m not a basketball fan though I remember that period. And it’s good that the detailing in the story provides that grounding in history… And this story is way better than the Ronald Cruz basketball mascot story in PSF 4.

That degree of detail helped immerse readers in this alternative Philippines, and on a more mundane level, the world of the PBA, which may as well be a secondary world to quite a few readers nowadays, considering the dip in the league’s popularity in recent years.

— Haha, yeah, it sure made me feel my aging in this alternative Philippines. And in real-time Philippines, Big Bird is a PBA player.

I also appreciate the feat Gutierrez was able to achieve in making a story about a kapre basketball player be about basketball, and not about the existence of kapres.

Definitely the story puts all those lectures I attended on sports writing when I was in high school in mind. So, hey, kids who are in the sports writing category in the Secondary Schools Press Conference— You can write speculative fiction and win a Palanca someday! Yay!

It brought also to mind how non-spec readers who love basketball would appreciate this story (Paging Leo Malapo! Paging Leo Malapo! The book is available in Fully Booked for 350 pesos! Buy now!)

The fantasy becomes the idea of a Filipino player in the NBA, not the reality of a mythical creature–or as the story put it: “Sure, the kapre is real, but is he for real?” This helps create the normalization of the fantastic that is important to an immersive, secondary world fantasy (and that’s the kind of story I think that “The Big Man” is, even if it’s ostensibly set in our world), but the manner by which this technique is deployed here is also one of the problems I had with the story: “The Big Man” normalizes the kapre by bracketing its supernatural qualities, precisely what makes the kapre a fantasy, and placing them aside.

— Tadadun…There goes the bomb!

Read the rest of this entry »

Redstone SF Interviews Charles Tan (Part 1)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 9 - 2011

Redstone Science Fiction has part one of a two part interview with Charles Tan. For those who don’t know Charles, he’s an author, editor (Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler; Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009), Philippine spec fic advocate and prolific blogger (he runs Bibliophile Stalker , and contributes to SF Signal and The World SF Blog, amongst others).

The interview touches upon quite a few topics, including the fact that Charles is more well known abroad than in the Philippines, local cyberpunk, and the Philippine authors most likely to become well-known. An excerpt:

Who do you think will become the first Filipino science fiction writer to become well-known?

Science fiction, or does fantasy count, too?

 

Let’s do both.

Well, there’s no real hard science fiction writers that are active, just some people who dabble in science fiction. I dabble in science fiction, and I think that Rochita, also, might dabble in it from time to time. I don’t think that there’s really anyone who is going to make a big impact, although Eliza may, in a few years, through sheer quantity, if nothing else [laughs]. Dean Francis Almar is the first Filipino to be published in “Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror”. He was first internationally published in “Strange Horizons”. He will probably be the first Filipino to have a true international following. Whenever I give a book to a foreign writer or friend, it is his.

Free Ebook Sampler: Circuit

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 7 - 2011

The thing about using a broad term like “speculative fiction” is that it can be a bit tricky figuring out what does or does not fall under that umbrella (especially with something more poetry than prose)… but I’m pretty sure that a book of blurbs about itself (the book of blurbs) qualifies, especially with contributions from familiar spec fic names such as Dean Alfar, Mia Tijam, Adam David, Andrew Drilon, Josel Nicolas,  Khavn, and Budjette Tan. Curator Angelo Suarez has thrown up a PDF sampler which you can find here, and I’ll let him explain the project in his own words:

This book was assembled in 2009 as something that was titled “The Blurb Project”— admittedly an unimaginatively unimaginative tentative name—intended for release w/in the same year. The procedure: Ask writers to blurb for a book whose content would solely be the blurbs to be collected from them, a critico-creative exercise in closed-circuit self-reference that could function as a collaborative epic poem of modular components. The material gathered was hence largely speculative: the book would talk about itself even before the book was complete, the collaborators either working blindly or else w/ what few blurbs were already available for their use.

Filipinos and the Genre, September 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 24 - 2010

FilipinosAndtheGenreSept2010

A few of our countrymen-and-women have been making news in the genre (and genre) related front, and I’m starting up this new type of post “Filipinos and the Genre” so that I have a place to collate all the news, in case I fall behind.

The most recent bit of information we have comes from Kenneth Yu over at Philippine Genre Stories, where he informs us that PGS contributor Alex Paman has a book out that will definitely be of interest to Rocket Kapre visitors:

PGS contributor Alex Paman‘s first book, Asian Supernatural, is now out and available at Amazon! (see above scan of its cover)

As described in the book’s preface, it is “an attempt, for the very first time, to truly catalog ghosts and monsters from all the Asian and Pacific cultures in a single volume. Its contents come from oral tales, old anthropology books, travel narratives, and other native resources that were written before the advent of the internet.”

It’s pretty comprehensive; looking at the table of contents, it covers not just China, Japan, and Korea–arguably the first cultures that come to mind among many when “Asian supernatural creatures” are mentioned, but also countries like India, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and yes, the Philippines.

In other news, Joseph Nacino, editor of Estranghero Press, recently had his story Logovore republished over at Fantasy Magazine. The magazine also has an interview up with Joey, where he graciously mentions our humble site. Thanks man!

Logovore is but one of many speculative fiction stories by Filipino authors picked up by international publishers. The Philippines also has two representatives in the recently announced table of contents for the Apex Book of World SF Volume 2: Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s “Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life” (from Interzone 229) and Andrew Drilon’sThe Secret Origin of Spin-man” (from Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 4). Many of these foreign sales are available online–here are a few of the most recent, and you can also take a look at Charles Tan’s database for stories published in 2010:

June 2010

September 2010

RRT: Favorite First Lines in Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 9 - 2010

RRT_FaveFirstLines_s

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!

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

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]

* * *

Read the rest of this entry »

Launch: Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 7 - 2010

BPSF2009

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).

Read the rest of this entry »

RRT: Fiction Without the Speculation

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 9 - 2010

It’s officially Palanca Awards season again, writers from all genres and walks of life are  gearing up for two months of feverish writing (or hand-wringing). While works of speculative fiction can and have won the Palanca, it’s hard to shake the impression that the prestigious body (and ever changing panel of judges) is more receptive to stories of love lost and regained, when the method of “regaining” that love doesn’t involve the dark art of necromancy. Thinking about a submission for the Palanca Awards is about the only time I even consider writing a story without speculative elements, and it’s always been difficult for me to shift gears. With the 2010 awards opening for submissions this month, I became curious as to how other speculative fiction writers go about writing non-specfic pieces–which meant I finally had an excuse to start the second Rocket Round Table:

How different is your experience writing a story without speculative fiction elements, as opposed to writing Spec Fic?

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? On to the answers then, and many thanks to the authors who found the time to sate my curiosity.

RRT2 Slider_s

MARIANNE VILLANUEVA [Blog]

==Marianne is the author of several short story collections, and has been a finalist for the Philippines’ National Book Award. She teaches creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writers Program, and her latest short story collection, “The Lost Language”, was released by Anvil last year.==

Very interesting question!

I’m not a writer of speculative fiction, but I do like to “play” in the genre occasionally –  as I also like to play in the “crime” genre, or poetry, or anything.  Because experimenting is what keeps writing fun!

It always starts, for me, with an emotional trigger.  It’s when I find I can’t end my story properly that I start turning to more non-traditional elements.  Then I go back and start again, but with the non-traditional elements as a fixed part of the story.  Then I see if I can finish it.

So, it’s always how to end that bothers me.  And I’ll try anything, ANYTHING, to see how I can get to the end.  And if I have to throw in some speculative fiction elements along the way, so be it.

ADAM DAVID [Blog]

==Adam is an indie publisher, published author, opinionated blogger. He was recently awarded the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award for his book, The El Bimbo Variation==.

Nothing really significant as far as authorial mindset is concerned. I used the same amount of braincells when I wrote *snip* as when I’m writing my 365 Stories book, the same amount when I wrote the El Bimbo Variations when I’m writing my terribly irregular essays on komix kritisism. The language is different in various levels, as well as in their little textual effects and affectations, but all those things are only merely decoration – or at their highest level, gilding – for the real substance of the thing, which never changes no matter the medium, whether audience or producer, critic or buyer: art is something you work on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chained Links: 2 December 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 2 - 2009

Let’s start off December with another link roundup of news that might be of interest to readers and writers of Philippine Spec Fic:

New Stories Online: 16 November 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 16 - 2009

Thanks to a few posts from Kyu, I’ve learned of two new pieces of fiction, and one creative non-fic piece, from Filipino SF authors which are now available online:

TAG CLOUD

Sponsors

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.

Photos

PSF6_P1020212PSF6_P1020211PSF6_P1020193PSF6_P1020190