Category Archives: Bait for the Muse

When inspiration need to be coaxed to life by revisiting our favorite things.

Link Drop August 2009

Apologies for the late update–working on something… special. More on that tomorrow–I’ll need your help guys–but for now, enjoy some interesting links I’ve picked up over the Inter-tubes (though you might have seen some of these on the Twitter feed):

  • Local News:
    • Bob Ong as National Artist: An article in the Philippine Star by Isagani Cruz where he breaks down why anonymous author Bob Ong might qualify as a National Artist–as opposed to you-know-who.
    • District 9 Review: by David Hontiveros. Protip: He liked it.
    • Cosplay Mania 2009 Contests–Updated: Some interesting upcoming events for cosplayers, listed over at the New Worlds Alliance.
    • Filipino-made Film Named Best SciFi Film in California Festival: The article doesn’t really describe the film much so can’t say how SciFi it is… but thing that saddens me about this is the comments section.  I understand not getting worked up about the achievements of another just because he’s Filipino, but to justify such disregard by labeling him a “Fil-Am” seems to me small-minded in the extreme. It builds walls where we should be breaking them down.
  • Science News:
    • Spiderbot: It looks kind of… awkward. But hey, I’m sure I did too when I was learning how to walk. (Cors’ I never did master the walking on the ceiling bit…)
    • Theatrical Robots Kiss: I want to see robot musicals now. Are you listening Repertory Philippines? ROBOT MUSICALS!
  • Book News:
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Books. Matter. Stories. Matter. (Or: How a Book Made Me Cry After Six Pages)

Damn. Six pages in.

I don’t usually blog about personal matters but…

Books have brought me to tears before. I’m kind of a sap that way. Usually though this happens at the end of a novel, when I’ve become so attached to the characters that when the time comes for something, or someone, to be sacrificed in order to lend the heroes’ eventual triumph the proper degree of drama and pathos; or, rarely, in very personal non-fiction accounts such as Didion’s “A Year of Magical Thinking” where the language is so beautiful and the event (the death of a loved one) so close to our own hearts that sympathetic heart-wrenches are unavoidable.

But while reading a factual report of an event? Never happened before. And I’ve certainly never teared up six pages in to a book.

This is the culprit: Every Book Its Reader by Nicholas A. Basbanes. The subtitle is, fittingly enough “The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World.” By all means click the image to peruse the first few pages of the book… Amazon’s preview covers the entirety of the section which had me sniffling, since it didn’t take that friggin’ long. (Go on, I’ll be here when you get back. Still sniffling probably.)

[All done? Join me after the cut.]

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Manilart 09: What Caught My Eye

I love art exhibits, although to be honest a lot of the more popular contemporary styles are a bit too abstract for my tastes–or too boring: I can see and respect the artistry that was required to paint a photo-realistic picture… but if it’s just another beatified pastoral-rural scene my eyes glaze over. I guess my cousin is the one who got all the high-end artistic appreciation skillz.

Still, I do love art exhibits and Manilart 09 seemed to boast a wide enough variety of styles and mediums of artwork to entice me and my wife to brave the possibility of gale force winds last weekend for the NBC Tent. I’m glad we did-there was a lot of stunning and (to my uncultured eye at least) innovative art on display. Here are some of my favorite pieces that contained elements of the surreal and the fantastic:

“Let’s Save the World” by Anthony Palo: Anyone for a high-art RPG? I love the feeling of eerie whimsy I get from this piece. Strange how it’s the humans who look the most alien to my eye… if they are humans that is.

“Claws” by Lotsu Manes: There’s just something striking about a Superman costume being the prize in a traditional pabitin – especially when you realize that, upon a close inspection of the grasping hands, those children aren’t human.

“Guardian of Patrimony” by Randalf Dilla: What I like here is the way the different elements are structured in such a way that the layered/tiered canvas gives the impression of depth.

[More favorites from Manilart 09 after the cut]

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Six Stories From My Youth and What I Learned From Them

Over at Lou Anders’ Blog, the esteemed Pyr editorial director has a post on “Building a Comprehensive SF & F Collection” (he’s soliciting any suggestions for “fantasy books every library should have” so head on over if you want to help out) and that, along with the Strange Horizons review of Little Brother, got me thinking: not necessarily about genre classics, but stories which have an importance to me, not just because they are well-made or entertaining, but because they taught me something about life or simply about what makes a story something I enjoy.

I’d probably easily name dozens upon dozens of stories, but for the sake of brevity let me limit myself to six for now from my early years-not necessarily the best things I read/watched, but all of which opened my eyes to a new aspect of reality; some are books, some are shows, all taught me something about storytelling or simply about living:

Wizards, Warriors and You: This series was my first introduction to prose fantasy of any sort, and my first taste of interactive entertainment. I always played the Warrior first, because he was a more sympathetic character to me-and yet I always found the Wizard’s storylines to be more interesting. What I Learned: Fantasy is awesome-but it’s even more awesome when I have a say in whether or not the lead character gets eaten by a crocodile.

Flight of the Dragons: Apparently the film is a bit obscure, (my first google search showed a hit on “unknown movies.com”) but I think a lot of the Filipinos of my generation remember it. I think this was literally the first movie-length animated feature I ever chose to watch (as opposed to being subjected to *cough* Bambi *cough*) – yes, before Transformers the Movie or G.I. Joe the Movie (Although if I were doing a list of influential characters and not stories, I’d have to put Sgt. Slaughter there). The movie was also my first exposure to the Everyman/Geek hero trope, and , not coincidentally, the first story I can remember where the hero triumphs by using his mind (or rather, in this case, scientific name-dropping). What I Learned: You can be a hero without being an athlete; the magic vs. science dichotomy; animated movies can be about more than helpless fauna.

[Teen detectives and transforming jets after the cut.]

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MANILART 09 is This Weekend

Not strictly related to the speculative or fantastical, but awesome all the same: MANILART O9, the first international art fair to be hosted in the Philippines, will be taking place from 11 am to 8 pm on July 17 to 19, 2009 (that’s this coming weekend folks)–unless you’re a VIP with an invite to the opening gala tonight-in which case I hate you.

Admission tickets are priced at Php200. or US$5.00 each, although I heard over at the CANVAS Blog (which first clued me in on the event) that students and senior citizens with valid IDs can get a 50% discount (For details, call 531-6231, 0917-8511333). The official site describes the event as an affair in which the country’s leading art galleries and those of the Asian region will take part; it will be an event where art collectors and enthusiasts can view the finest examples of Contemporary Art today and gather together to exchange views and insights about the world of art. The site also has an FAQ page here.

If you’d like to see the list of confirmed exhibitors (and follow the links to their respective websites to whet your appetite) then the official site also has you covered.

Nothing like good art to get the creative juices going; see you guys there!

(Image from the Manilart web site)

Twitter Fiction: Book View Cafe and Thaumatrope

Wow, we’ve been making a lot of good twitter fiction haven’t we? Book View Cafe recently launched its third Twitter Fiction contest to celebrate the release of Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff’s ebook Laldasa: A Beloved Slave. The goal was to write a complete story in 126 characters (down from 140 due to the hashtag) with the theme of “You got mystery/romance in my science fiction!” When the results were in, four stories from three of our local Spec Fic authors garnered Honorable Mentions:

Kenneth_Yu: @bookviewcafe I felt her kiss first, then her blade. Smiling, she switched her machine off as I died. Virtual reality leaves no blood.

luckychan13: @bookviewcafe She thought she had found love again, years after her divorce. He turned out to be one of her ex-husband’s clones.

blissery: @bookviewcafe “A new form of the old hate,” he says sadly, touching his hand. “It’s not because we’re both men, it’s because we’re robots.”

luckychan13: @bookviewcafe We were rejects; leftover embryo from fertility treatments. We were not supposed to be born. –And now someone’s killing us.

Congratulations to our wonderful authors! Next time, we shoot for #1 ^_^

While we’re in the mood to write some tiny fiction, it would be remiss not to mention that Thaumatrope, the site/magazine for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror fiction under 140 characters, has re-opened for submission of stories until 31 July. You can also submit serials. General guidelines and payrate can be found here.

Turning Points in Philippine History

The current theme for submissions over at Crossed Genres is Alternative History–and writers take note, they are not only especially interested in Alternate History stories involving non-Western cultures and civilizations but they are also seeing a drop in submissions for this theme–so it got me thinking: the primordial element in the construction of an alternate history story seems to me to be the isolation of a focal point in the timeline of a people or nation, and speculating how a particular addition or omission might radically alter the course of history. While weighing the possibility of submitting to Crossed Genres, I’ve come up with a list of “what ifs” grounded in turning points in our history, and I thought I’d list them here for purposes of discussion/critique, or in the event that they can aid anyone planning to write an alternate history set in the Philippines; not all are major events in and of themselves, but some of the best stories I’ve read have dealt with the chain reactions caused by a shift in a minor detail.

Note that while I have been trying to brush up on Philippine history, I’m by no means an expert and as such I’m open to suggestions if I missed or mistakenly added anything. Also, I’m limiting these to possibilities that had an actual chance of occurring (rather than any number of way-out alternatives such as “What if the Rice Terraces became sentient during World War II?”) — although of course for purposes of a Spec Fic tale, the reason why events took a different turn may be as fantastical as the writer desires.

  • 1400s – What if Muslim missionaries had spread across more of the Philippines, entrenching Islam before the arrival of the Spanish?
  • 1500s – What if Portugal had discovered the Philippines?
  • 1762 – What if the British had conquered the Philippines?
  • 1767 – What if the Jesuits had not been expelled?
  • 1887 – What if Noli Me Tangere had been written in Tagalog?
  • 1897 – What if Bonifacio had executed Aguinaldo?
  • 1898 – What if Aguinaldo had not accepted United States aid?
  • 1899 – What if Willy Grayson had not taken that shot?
  • 1902 – What if the Philippines had won the Philippine-American War?
  • 1941 – What if MacArthur had repulsed the Japanese attack against Clark?
  • 1942 – What if Corregidor had never fallen?
  • 1945 – What if the Philippines had remained under Japanese occupation?
  • 1945 – What if the Philippines had become a state of the United States of America?
  • 1946 – What if MacArthur had implemented Japanese-style reforms in the Philippines?
  • 1946 – What if Taruc and the other five Democratic Alliance candidates had not been denied their seats in Congress?
  • 1950 – What if the Huk had overthrown the national government?
  • 1957 – What if Magsaysay’s plane had not crashed?
  • 1972 – What if Marcos had never declared Martial Law?
  • 1983 – What if Ninoy lived?

[More after the jump/cut]

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