Tag Archives: writing

9/9/09: The Future of Pinoy SF Wants You

Are you ready to soar?

Are you ready to soar?

Sorry if that was a bit dramatic but it got your attention didn’t it? And while there is a time for circumspection, for earnest modesty, this is not one of those times.

Some of you might remember these posts and the promise I made to establish a digital publishing house for Philippine Speculative Fiction. I’ve been hammering away at that dream for half a year now… and I’m about to take the first major step at making that dream a reality.

On 9 September 2009, our new imprint will launch its website/blog dedicated to all things relevant to the readers and creators of stories of the Philippine Fantastic. Our aim is that the site can serve  as a launching pad for great Filipino SF, and also a venue for a greater understanding of the magical, speculative and scientific aspects of our culture and heritage. But most of all, want we want the site to do is create a community, and for that we need your help. We want to hear what you guys want in a site that aims to be something akin to the io9 or Tor.com of the Philippine Fantastic.

Tell us: what kind of topics would you like to cover? What kid of features or posts would keep you coming back? Here’s a list of things we’re working on:

  • A free online zine with SF short stories from Filipino authors old and new
  • Interviews with creators/writers/artists
  • Reviews of Filipino created books and komiks
  • Roundtable discussions on important issues or interesting questions
  • Reviews of non-Filipino created media that would interest Filipino SF readers
  • Articles exploring our myths, legends, culture and history
  • Silly–but sincere–fan speculation about our favorite local characters (I’m working on a post pitting certain cast members of Trese ant the Mythology Class against each other)

If you have content you want to see on the new site, please let me know in the comments section (which will be moderation free). On September 9, at 9:00 a.m., we’ll post the address for the new site here (those of you who’ve already seen it please don’t make the URL or the imprint name] public–it’s not quite ready for prime time yet -_-).

Hold on to your seats everyone. Not sure where this journey will take us, but I promise you we’re going full speed ahead.

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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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Deadlines Ahoy! Shine Anthology (EDIT: August 2)

Just reminding everyone that the (previously extended) deadline for submission to the SHINE Anthology, “an anthology of optimistic near-future SF, edited by Jetse de Vries, published by Solaris Books” is fast approaching.The deadline was originally June 30, but this was moved to August 2.

Submission guidelines are here. Remember, Mr. de Vries has stated that he is very keen on getting submissions from beyond the United States. He’s been providing a lot of helpful tips with regard to what kind of stories he’s looking for, and I thought I’d index a few of them here, for those authors whose spirits are willing, but whose muses are weak (like myself *sob):

Good luck everyone!

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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The Farthest Shore: Partial List of Stories

Slightly old news (and somewhat self-serving I know, but hey, I would have posted this regardless) but Joseph Nacino and Dean Alfar have announced “after much deliberation” the list of stories accepted for the “Farthest Shore” the upcoming anthology of Filipino secondary world fantasy (which you might remember from here). In no particular order, the stories and authors are as follows:

1. Balancing Darkness- Rodelle Santos
2. Hindsight- Paolo Chikiamco
3. Rite of Passage- Dominique Cimafranca
4. The Just World of Helena Jimenez – Eliza Victoria
5. Spelling Normal- Mia Tijam
6. Emberwilde – Nikki Alfar
7. Light – Kate Aton-Osias
8. They Spoke of Her in Whispers – Bessie Lasala
9. In the Arms of Beishu – Vincent Simbulan
10. Wildwater- Crystal Koo

Two more stories will be added, one from each of the editors, to bring the total number to twelve. “The Farthest Shore” is intended to be released in digital/online form sometime late August.

I’m really excited for this one, even setting aside for the moment that my story will be in it. Still, it’s good to know that all that toil and research was not in vain.

Things I’ve Learned About Writing in 2009 (Part 1)

I was reading a post from Escape Pod editor Jeremiah Tolbert entitled An Editor’s Perspective on Rejection which raises a lot of good points, and I got to thinking about all I’ve learned this year about writing. I think I finished a grand total of two stories in 2008–this year so far I’ve finished seven short stories, three pieces of flash fiction and a host of twitter stories (and one “flash script”). I’ve also received my very first rejection letters, and, as Jeremiah says in his post, those do hurt.

However as he also says, everyone gets rejected, no matter how good a writer you may be; it’s just part of the writer’s life. That’s one lesson I’ve learned about writing in general and my writing in particular since the year began–here are a few others:

(1) I Need Raw Material: I think the biggest breakthrough I had was realizing that I’m much, much better at constructing a story from a bad story than I am at generating one on the fly. I can–and still need to–outline a story before I begin, but I’m rarely able to make it work without looking at a complete first draft; I just don’t have the right perspective without seeing the entire narrative–or at least a version of it–play out. Without a complete draft, I’m like a sculptor chipping away at air.

(2) First Drafts are Allowed to Suck: I think I first heard this made explicit on Mur Lafferty’s podcast, and given lesson one above, it was such a relief to internalize. The goal with my first drafts is now simply to finish the story:  all the bells and whistles can come later.

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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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