Introduction: Hidden Selves

Kept you waiting, huh?

It’s been a long journey to get to the second issue of Usok, and while I’ve had to deviate from my original plans for the magazine, I’ve learned a lot about editing, working with creative people, and the speculative fiction scene in the Philippines, during the past year. There were ups and downs, but I have no regrets; sometimes the only way to get any solid data about an endeavor is to try it, to let your plans and dreams drum against the craggy shore of Reality. Usok will continue to evolve from here on out, and I hope you will all continue to support the magazine.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to find a unifying theme among stories that I’ve already accepted, than it is to assign a theme and wait for the stories to come in. Or maybe it’s just serendipity that all three of our stories in this issue (released days after Halloween) touch upon the theme of hidden selves, the masks we put on for the sake of blending in with “normal” society. It’s a common enough theme in speculative fiction, but it’s one of my favorites, and I hope you’ll find that each of these stories engages it in an intriguing way.

My thanks to the authors, Kate, Elaine, and Eliza, all of whom were very gracious and patient during the editing process. I’d also like to thank Kevin for the wonderful cover and for recruiting our latest batch of excellent digital artists: MJ, VN and Mark.

As with the previous issue, some of the stories contain scenes that may disturb those who have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction – children, the easily offended, etc. – so please keep that in mind. (Kate’s “100% of Me”, however, should be 100% safe for all but those who are allergic to percentages.)

Okay, it’s been way too long since I said this last, so without further ado: Kwentuhan na.

- Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco