Wednesday, August 17, 2005

notes on editing the spec fic antho 1

Because (1) I am a fast reader; and (2) I read the submissions as they came in, I'm actually done with reading all of the 66 stories submitted for consideration. I am delighted by the sheer number of submissions - it proves to me that speculative fiction is hardly a dead thing and that well-written spec fic is not impossible to find. Thank you to everyone who sent a story in. I am so revved up that I'm thinking of making this book a series of annuals or something like that.

I sorted entries as they came in, in an effort to categorize genres. I found the following (subjective categories all mine, used to sort, not open to argument):

1. Philippine fantasy. This sort of fiction is set in the Philippines, usually in the past (ancient or Colonial), and uses the abundance of local lore, legend and myth. Subcategories: Serious Philippine fantasy, Children's Story, Pastoral fantasy, Alternate History

2. Modern Philippine fantasy. These stories are set in the modern day and juxtapose elements of popular culture with myth and legend. Subcategory: Magic Realism.

3. Imaginary World fantasy. Set outside the country in lands made from whole cloth. Little or no Filipino element or sensibility, mostly European/Occidental mode, usually written in approximation of US fantasy bestseller, complete with conventions (and lots of snow). A few stand out, wrenched from accusations of being generic by incredible writing. Subcategory: More snow.

4. Manga/Anime fantasy. Thinly disguised variations on Japanese manga/anime, with cute girls with cat ears. Painfully reminiscent of badly written and creatively bereft fan fic.

5. Slipstream fantasy. These stories take the Modern Philippine Fantasy and kick it all over the genre divides, creating new patterns. Some are sexy, some are ugly. Subcategory: Literary fantasy or "Look at me, I'm Lit'ry!"

6. Futuristic Fiction. Direct from the Palanca category, imaginings of our country distant years from now. Subcategory: Transformers (Social Realists in Disguise)

7. Funky Scifi. Almost exclusively submitted by a core of UST-based writers, this type is exciting and well-written.

8. Interstitial. Stories that defy categorization, that fall between the cracks of definition. Some are surreal and beautiful, others are just masturbatory excesses.

9. Horror. Scary. Subcategories: Lovecraftian, Body Count, Monster Mash.

10. Crime. Bad thing happens, detective-type solves it. Speculative in the way I did not mean the term to include, but what the hey. Subcategory: Crime Noir

11. Modern Short Story. No spec fic element. Subcategory: Social Realism.

I think that about covers them all, though I may have missed one or two.

I'm happy to say that in terms of quality, I am frustrated to have a cap of 60,000 words for the book. There are many deserving stories that will be cut.

I've made my preliminary selections, thought about them, and altered my short list many times. Since I'm doing the notification in batches, I've begun the process of sending out letters.

More tomorrow.

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