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.

Yvette Tan Interview at Field Trips to the Real World

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 20 - 2012

Speculative Fiction writer, and Usok contributor, Yvette Tan was interviewed by Charlene F. Sawit on her blog “Field Trips to the Real World” as part of an ongoing series called “Postcards on Writing.” The interview came out on the 4th of June, but I haven’t had the time to link to it until now. Go check it out if you haven’t already: Yvette talks about good stories, what creeps her out, and being labelled as a horror writer.

Podfiction: “A Fishy Tale” by Apol Lejano-Massebieau

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 6 - 2011

Pakinggan Pilipinas has begun its second season with a story from the anthology “A Time for Dragons”, namely “A Fishy Tale” by Apol Lejano-Massebieau. The story is read by none other than fellow spec fic writer and Usok contributor Yvette Tan. Enjoy!

PGS Online: “Stars” by Yvette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 5 - 2011

Looking for some weekend reading? The newest story on Philippine Genre Stories Online is “Stars” by the co-editor of the latest batch of stories, the inimitable Yvette Tan (site), author of “Waking the Dead”. The other stories in this set are “The Confessional” by Cyan Abad-Jugo ,“Sweet” by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon and “Malvar” by yours truly.

Ian Rosales Casocot Reviews “Waking the Dead”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 21 - 2011

Ian Rosales Casocot, author of the recently released “Heartbreak & Magic” short story collection, has a very positive review of Yvette Tan’s “Waking the Dead” up on his blog. You can read it here. Always good to see reviews of local spec fic–there haven’t been that many this year. If you review/find a review of a work of Philippine spec fic, let me know and I’ll link up to it here.

“Malvar” by Paolo Chikiamco on PGS Online

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 18 - 2011

It’s been a year or so since I last had a new story available online, so I’m pleased to announce that my story “Malvar” has been published at PGS Online. It’s an alternative history story that deals with the consequences of a curse fueled by the Bataan Death March, and delves into the muddy border between vengeance and heroism. It was a tough story to write – I don’t think any story of mine has gone through so many revisions – but I hope the end product manages to entertain, or at least divert. This is the third in a set of four being co-edited by publisher Kenneth Yu and Yvette Tan, and I’d like to thank them for their feedback and support. Let me know what you think about the story, either here or at PGS. Thanks for reading!

“The Confessional” and “Sweet” at PGS Online

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 10 - 2011

All parts of “The Confessional” by Cyan Abad-Jugo and “Sweet” by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon have been uploaded to Philippine Genre Stories Online. These are the first two stories in a set of four being co-edited by publisher Kenneth Yu and Yvette Tan. Kenneth has an interesting post up where he discusses that one of the benefits of going online is the ability to publish longer stories, but that he still decided to split both stories into two parts each.

The last story of the set will be from Yvette herself and the next one will be from me. As is becoming common for me, it’ll be an alternative history story with a good helping of the fantastic. I’ll post here when it goes live.

Usok Interview: Yvette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 17 - 2010

Tomorrow, we’ll finally be launching the updated version of Usok #1, with a gorgeous new illustration for each story. We’ll also have an announcement regarding the future of Usok as well. As a celebration of the launch of the illustrated version, I’ll be posting short interviews with Yvette, Crystal and Celestine (I already posted interviews with chiles, and Kenneth, as well as artists Kevin and Tey (who did the illustration for Yvette’s story, “The Child Abandoned“). Here’s the third Usok #1 author interview, with Yvette Tan, author of The Child Abandoned

Usok1IllYvette

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your story

I was passing by Sta. Ana one day when I noticed the name of the church near St. Peter School called The Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned, or something like that. I thought it was a sad and beautiful name and that I must use it in a story.

What aspect of the story gave you the most difficulty?

I have a horrible sense of direction, so it’s the geographical parts of the story that gave me the most difficulty. I’ve been to Quiapo several times and until now, I still can’t name streets or remember how to get to places. Of course, that just gives me a reason to visit the place again.

Do you remember the first short story you ever wrote? What was it about?

The first stories I wrote weren’t so much original works as adaptations, and more graphic novels than fiction. In grade school, a friend and I used to draw scenes from Maricel Soriano comedies (the more Marias in the movie, the better). I also wrote a personal security handbook which I bound in wrapping paper and refused to show anyone. In high school, I wrote specially commissioned stories that starred my friends and the New Kid on the Block of their choice, as well as some horribly derivative fantasy, one of which was novel-length. This is probably why I flunked a lot of subjects.

Does your cultural background influence how you write, or what you write?

I actually don’t use my cultural background in my writing. I know I should take advantage of my Chinese roots, but I am so much more fascinated by the Filipino side.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever read or received?

At a talk, John Maxwell shared his secret for getting stuff done. He said that every day, he had five goals that he should do, and he did them. It’s simple, and it gets the job done.

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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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