Tag Archives: Philippine Speculative Fiction (anthology)

Locus Reviews PSFIV and A Time for Dragons

Note: Been having internet problems so updates might be intermittent. I’ll be updating the Twitter account, visible from here, if there’s breaking/interesting news.


The July 2009 issue of Locus, the U.S. magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, carried a pleasant surprise for fans of Philippine speculative fiction: a review of not one, but two local anthologies, namely “Philippine Speculative Fiction IV” and “A Time for Dragons” by Rich Horton.

The two reviews are not available online, but with the help of relatives I was able to order a copy (which became a less arduous  task when I called off the bookstore hunt after I learned that Locus wasn’t being sold in brick-and-mortar stores @_@). I just got my hands on it this weekend and thought I’d share some of the contents of the review, given the fact that an issue of Locus can be a tad difficult to chase down.

In his dual review, Mr. Horton stated that “[i]n feel these two books are entirely consistent with similar products from the American and English small press” and the fact that many stories are set in the Philippines makes these stories “just unfamiliar enough to most readers to pique additional interest.”

Mr. Horton went on to name a few of his favorites from each anthology, which I’ll list here along with any comment he might have had that didn’t involve a summary of the story. Note that some of the praise he had for these stories was tempered by less positive comments, usually having to do with predictability, but since he did cite them as the best stories, I’m probably safe in assuming that the good he saw in each outweighed the bad.

[The list can be found after the break.]

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Jeffrey Ford Reviews Philippine Speculative Fiction IV

Awesome news for Philippine Spec Fic: Jeffrey Ford, world renowned fantasy author  (whose works have won and/or been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the Fountain Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award) recently reviewed Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, and found much to his liking, singling out in particular stories by Andrew Drilon, Noel Tio, Maryanne Moll, Charles Tan, Celestine Trinidad, Isabel Yap, Paolo Jose Cruz, Kate Aton-Osias and Adam David.

From the review:

I don’t know how many US readers and writers are aware of it, but there is a vital and growing SF/F community in the Philippines these days. Good evidence exists for it in this latest volume of the anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction IV.

One need not delve too deeply into this Philippine literary phenomenon to quickly realize that there is a treasure trove of talent there. Volume 4 of the series is, in my humble opinion, the best yet in the series.

I’ve only touched on a representative handful of stories here. There were other pieces in the anthology that I liked as well as these. The book is well worth your time.

Congratulations to Dean and Nikki, as well as to all the authors-especially those given special mention. Now all you guys need to do is make the 5th even better right? No pressure.

If you want to show Mr. Ford some love, his website can be found here, and he keeps a livejournal account here. His excellent books and collections are also available on Amazon amongst other fine retailers (can’t recall if I’ve seen any here).

Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (3 of 4)

It has been awhile since the last, but here is part 3 of my story-by-story review Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar. Here are my thoughts on stories thirteen to eighteen, with my thanks to each author for sharing their story with us.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but nevertheless, fair warning: Here There Be Spoilers.

“Breaking the Spell” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

I remember a famous writer was giving advice on the use of different POV modes to aspiring authors, and he was asked when he thought it was appropriate to use a second person point of view. His answer:  don’t. While I don’t quite agree–a result of a childhood steeped in Choose-Your-Own-Adventures perhaps–second person present tense is hard to pull off, especially as in the case of this story, where the viewpoint character has actual characteristics (a young girl with long black hair and a beautiful voice).

The good news is Ms. Rochita pulls the second person POV off well… the only thing is, I’m not sure what the use of second-person really added to the story. The other POV in the story is set firmly in the third-person, and works just as well. Perhaps the shift in POVs is meant to higlight the different worlds (literally) inhabited by the main characters, but again, I think it would have been fine without it. POV necessity aside, while I did have some plot quibbles (why were such dangerous items being stored in a residence?), I really enjoyed the airy, almost fey character of the prose and I’m all for hero(ines) who break out of established gender roles.

“The Dance of the Storm” by Isabel Yap

I liked the first line of the story “It is raining when he first sees her”–although perhaps unintentionally, the first paragraph left me with the mistaken impression that the POV character was a kapre, at least until the last line of said paragraph. The prose is very well done, very fluid (pun unintended), so much so that it took me awhile to realize that this was the second straight story–going in sequence–that was told in present tense. I particularly like the second section of the story, with the short contrasting sentences used to show confusion and ambivalence. The story maintained an ethereal atmosphere all throughout, and was exactly the length necessary to tell its tale and tell it well. My only quibble was that some of the poetic structure of the prose bled into the dialogue, making the latter feel a bit stiff and unnatural–but then, I don’t know if Ms. Isabel purposefully sought that kind of formality of speech.

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Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction V


(I’d vote for a Voltes theme for the cover if Beerkada hadn’t done that already ^_^)

That time of the year again eh? Maybe I’ll actually get to send something in this time ^_^ Note the editorial change–well, not really a change so much as an evolution I think since I’m assuming Dean will still be involved in some capacity.

Here are the details, courtesy of Notes From the Peanut Gallery:

Editors Nikki Alfar and Vin Simbulan are now accepting submissions of short fiction pieces for consideration for the anthology “PHILIPPINE SPECULATIVE FICTION V”.

Speculative fiction is the literature of wonder that spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror and magic realism or falls into the cracks in-between.

1. Only works of speculative fiction will be considered for publication. As works of the imagination, the theme is open and free.

2. Stories must cater to an adult sensibility. However, if you have a Young Adult story that is particularly well-written, send it in.

3. Stories must be written in English.

4. Stories must be authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry.

5. Preference will be given to original unpublished stories, but previously published stories will also be considered. In the case of previously published material, kindly include the title of the publishing entity and the publication date. Kindly state also in your cover letter that you have the permission, if necessary, from the original publishing entity to republish your work.

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Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (2 of 4)

I’ve been reading the most recent volume of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, so here’s the second batch of reviews. Here are my thoughts on the next six of the twenty-four stories in this volume, with my thanks to each author for sharing their story with us.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but nevertheless, fair warning: Here There Be Spoilers.

“The Day that Frances, the Copywriter, Became God” by Monique Francisco

I got a kick out of the mention of the “hope that was dashed” in the last Harry Potter book, as my wife had been clinging on to that very same slim thread of ambiguity ^_^ I also enjoyed the biblical phrasing which can lend a very particular tone to a contemporary piece, letting it read like a fable, or a parable – which in a way, this was.

On the down side, while this was a very short story (four and a half pages)I think a lot could still be cut, strangely enough. The “Or…” paragraphs in the first part were a tad too numerous (yes I know that repetition is also a part of the Biblical style but it didn’t work here) and the references a tad too specific.

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Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (1 of 4)

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the most recent volume of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, so I thought I’d get started on my reviews. As I read anthologies from first story to last (I am told I’m a minority in this) here are my thoughts on the first six of the twenty-four stories in this volume, with my thanks to each author for sharing their story with us.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but nevertheless, fair warning: Here There Be Spoilers.

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