Timothy James Dimacali Interview at Adarna SF

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 6 - 2013

Adarna SF has just posted an interview with Skygypsies writer and Alternative Alamat contributor, TJ Dimacali. (Adarna SF also has a new review of Alternative Alamat here.) Here’s an excerpt, with TJ answering a question aboutthe audience for and nature of Filipino speculative fiction stories:

It’s a fact that we don’t yet have the means to produce our own high technology, and won’t be capable of doing so for at least a generation more to come, if at all.

This means that we’re completely at the mercy of whatever technology lands in our hands from first-world countries. Sure, they’re built and assembled in Asia, but the basic construction paradigms and even the basic marketing strategies stem from people who are of a different cultural milieu and world-view than ours.

And yet, we’ve proven time and again that we are capable of adapting these technologies to suit our needs and to use them in ways that the original designers never even thought of.

This happened a decade ago with SMS, and now with social media. But all of these are after the fact, merely reactionary to the arrival of foreign technologies.

So that’s where speculative fiction —particularly SCIENCE fiction— comes into the picture: it’s a way for us to dream our own future, to empower us with a vision of what we can become. So that we’re more than just blind adopters of foreign technologies.

You can read the full interview here.

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction 9

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 21 - 2013

It’s that time of the year again. If you enjoyed dipping your toes in the water during RP612fic, why not give a short story a try? Text taken from Andrew Drilon and Charles Tan:

Editors Andrew Drilon and Charles Tan invite you (yes, you!) to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 9.

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
4. featuring a strong Filipino element (a character, setting, theme, plot, etcetera.)
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. But 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 philspecfic9@gmail.com, with the subject line ‘PSF9 submission’.
3. The deadline for submissions is 11 pm, Manila time, October 26, 2013. 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. :)

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.

Tor.com reviews Expanded Horizons April 2013

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 1 - 2013

Tor.com just featured Expanded Horizons in their Short Fiction Spotlight, reviewing the April 2013 issue which includes two reprints from the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology series: “From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me” by Christine V. Lao, and “Waiting for Agua de Mayo” by Mia Tijam.

On “From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me”:

I appreciate the lyrical quality of these shorts, as well as the food for thought each offers on the changes, good and bad, in the lives of these women: how culture and society place their own pressures, and how women can connect, or lose connections, with each other (“Barbara”), are themes that interest me. This story is a handsome, small thing, made of parts smaller still, that does the majority of its work on the allegorical level rather than that of plot. As such, it’s the sort of piece that lingers, though it may not at first make a drastic impression.

On “Waiting for Agua de Mayo”:

The story itself, however, remains engaging thanks to its execution: Tijam’s attention to detail renders the protagonist, her “dragon,” and the setting vividly. The added tension of cultural conflict—where the idea of the “dragon” even comes from, and why she thinks of it primarily as that before thinking of it as the bayawak—is a further note that the story sounds, giving it a fresh take on a common theme.

Check out the full review here.

Ebook Sale: Flipreads Read-an-Ebook Week Promo

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 5 - 2013

Flipreads, the ebook store of Flipside Digital, my co-publisher for the digital edition of Alternative Alamat, will be participating in Read an eBook Week (March 3-9) with a promotional sale of several books, including Alternative Alamat and the digital editions of the Philippine Speculative Fiction series. Full list below:

New Review of “Alternative Alamat” at inkalicious

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 24 - 2013

Nothing like a positive review to brighten your day: just found a new review of “Alternative Alamat” by author Michele Albert on her reading blog. It’s a positive, detailed review — my favorite kind — with something about each of the stories, as well as the art. Here’s a taste:

“Alamat” is the Filipino word for “legend,” and the “alternative” part of the title is self-explanatory. I enjoyed this anthology; it introduced mythologies unfamiliar to me and the stories and author styles were nicely diverse. The stories ranged from the sort of urban fantasy you’d find in a Charles DeLint or Neil Gaiman book to something more along the lines of the kick-ass heroine in a city full of weird. One story read like a fairytale and another like a more straightforward mythic tale. The oddest was the story told in footnotes!

xxx

I enjoyed all the stories, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Keeper of My Sky. A creation myth with an alternative time stream twist, it was sad and hauntingly beautiful. The bit with the rain, and the reason why Tungkung Langit and Alunsina could never be together, was lovely. Fans of N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy would probably enjoy this story too, although it takes place in our modern world.

 

 

“Talking to Juanito” by Mia Tijam at Bewildering Stories

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 26 - 2012

Our good friend Mia Tijam has a new piece of fiction up on “Bewildering Stories“, for their 504th issue. “Talking to Juanito” told from the perspective of a child, but it is not a children’s story– or, rather, the material may not be for children. In another sense though, it *is* a children’s story because it deals with their fused awareness of the real and the imagined, as well as the rules imposed by adults so different as to seem to be from another species. For those who enjoy stories where the line between real and unreal is blurred, this one may be for you.

The editors of Bewildering Stories had this to say about it:

The story mingles languages very effectively. The subordinating conjunction ta is essential: it means “because, and it’s a bad thing…” And the interjection Ta… ta… recurs frequently. Readers can imagine the “lolas” muttering darkly, “Bad… very bad.”

Flipreads Black Friday Sale

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 22 - 2012

To coincide with the massive sales taking place in the United States for Black Friday, Flipreads.com is having a Black Friday Sale of their own from today, November 22, to November 25. They’ve got a lot of ebooks going on sale that will be of interest to Rocket Kapre readers, ranging from the Philippine Speculative Fiction series, to U.P. non-fiction titles, to YA titles from Rocket Kapre contributors such as Eliza Victoria and Raissa Falgui. Go check it out!

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.

Cover by Les Banzuelo and Adam David

If you know about Philippine speculative fiction, you owe a debt to Dean Francis Alfar. Dean is one of the most well known (and critically acclaimed) Filipino spec fic writers, and one of its staunchest advocates – he published the print versions of the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction series and is one of the organizers of the Litcritters discussion group/workshop. His new short story collection is now out from the good folk at Flipside Publishing: “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” Here’s a book blurb, with praise for Dean’s writing from a wide array of peers and critics:

How to Traverse Terra Incognita is Dean Francis Alfar’s second collection of short fiction. An advocate of the literature of the imagination, he is the publisher of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies, an annual showcasing Filipino fictionists that he began in 2005.

“Dean Francis Alfar’s stories contain fantastic worldbuilding, crisp prose, and contemplative, poignant storytelling. Several of these stories made me cry. If you aren’t reading Alfar yet, you should be.” – Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, Apex Magazine

“Dean Francis Alfar is one of the most inventive writers of speculative fiction today. It’s criminal that his often playful, sometimes serious, gloriously literate tales aren’t better known around the world. Although he’s a very different writer, his lyrical style seems to me to make him a Ray Bradbury for the 21st century.”
- John Grant, Joint Editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, and author of Warm Words and Otherwise: A Blizzard of Book Reviews and many others

“Dean Francis Alfar is a wondrous storyteller, creating tales that take the reader far and wide. From reluctant dragon fathers and dueling weather gods to demanding, dying queens, he has a way of pulling you into his captivating worlds and never letting go. And really, who would want to leave anyway when there is something extraordinary around every corner?” – Hugo Award winner editor Ann VanderMeer

“Dean Francis Alfar’s ambitious but aptly titled collection is a revelation. In these wide-ranging stories you’ll find the melancholy magic of Kelly Link mixed with the clever wit and bite of Etgar Keret mixed with the unrestrained passion of Harlan Ellison. Yet, “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” is utterly original. It’s like that amazing new band that you fall in love with instantly and want to share with everyone. Then you and your friends will be gladly building replicas of your kingdoms, barricading the house against fathers, and packing for the moon.”–Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep and Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye

“How to Traverse Terra Incognita is a kaleidoscope of strange realities. Dean Francis Alfar’s elegant prose offers tantalizing glimpses of broken fairy tales, urban magics, and everyday sadnesses.” – Ditmar Award winner Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk.

“Dean Francis Alfar is an amazing talent. Profound, luminous and lyrical, “How to Traverse Terra Incognita” is the masterwork of an artist at the very top of his game. This collection is a must-read for anyone who cares about the magic of rubbing words together.” — Ted Kosmatka, author of The Games

“When Dean Francis Alfar is at his best in stories like ‘The Ghosts of Wan Chai’ and ‘Securing Doors from Fathers,’ he illuminates human emotion with deft surrealism that merges the familiar and the unfamiliar, allowing the reader to view both in a new light. His clever use of sustained metaphor allows him to play with subtext, memory, and the intersection between personal and communal experience.” – Nebula Award winner author Rachel Swirsky

“Like water coming and going from some strange invisible well, arresting style and uncanny subjects flow in the short fiction of Dean Francis Alfar. An innovative force behind him moves in each compelling story. With Dali-like detail, Mr. Alfar coolly raises hanging coffins, replicas of maritime kingdoms, phantom brides and Hong Kong suicides, whirling chatty lobsters, Mr. Sun’s face, and the remarkable art of making love to twins. He is never afraid to go out and seek what strange thing he may find. I won’t say this writer merits only finding a wider readership in the West: it is better to say that we are entitled to find him. Read something from this collection before you go to bed; rise with the wonder of what happened to your dreams.” – Danel Olson, editor of the Exotic Gothic series

 

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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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