Wednesday, October 25, 2006

one hundred stories

It's wonderful to have people who share the same love for reading that I have. When I first agreed to form what would become the Litcritters reading/discussion/writing group, it was in response to a couple of friends asking for help in articulating what made a story work. Naturally, teaching that entails reading, so I started selecting stories for us to read, a combination of my personal preferences; speculative fiction of various stripes; modern literature by Filipino authors; "canonical" literature; stories that - while published and acclaimed - leave much to be desired; plus recommendations from various writers of speculative fiction from all over the world who introduced us to new texts, all eye-openers. And no repeat authors, because there are so many to sample.

In series of lectures, I tackled the basics of writing and literary criticism, and what could possibly be the seeds of theoretics on Philippine Speculative Fiction (a tall order, and I make no claim to defining exactly what that is - however, we do discuss it and write stories), before moving on to advanced writing techniques. After all, one of our goals to write stories with an eye towards future publication. Several of the Litcritter texts have been accepted by Story Philippines, Philippines Free Press, Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, as well as some anthos.

We read our 100th story last week, with a batch of work that include Charles Stross' Nightfall, Anais Nin's Little Birds, Jonathan Lethem and Angus McDonald's The Edge of the Bed of Forever, and John Aegard's The Golden Age of Fire Escapes. The session also marked the first time the Litcritters welcomed new friends to the fold - expanding our circle a little wider. In addition, a few weeks ago, I started sending out our readings to those who requested them by email. Thus, friends new and old are now able to read whatever it is we're reading for the week (with the exception of certain texts that I only have hard copies of, from my collection of books and magazines).

Here's what we've read, in the last few months (including works by the Litcritters themselves - as part of our writing clinic):

A Passion for Lord Pierrot by Colin Greenland
A Stone Woman by A.S. Byatt
A Tropical Winter's Tale by Charleson Ong
Bearing Fruit by Nikki Alfar
Bernardo's House by James Patrick Kelly
Chasing Ouroboros by Vin Simbulan
Cigarettes and Roses by Ben Peek
Colossus of Roads by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Comrade Grandmother by Naomi Kritzer
Dark Angel, Benigno by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
Draco Campestris by Sarah Monette
Editing for Content by Gavin Grant
Exo Skeleton Town by Jeffrey Ford
Final Farewell by Nikki Alfar
Flute by Kate Aton-osias
Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery by John Schoffstall
Fox Magic by Kij Johnson
Girl Reporter by Stephanie Harrell
Gunsaddled by Alex Osias
Guts by Chuck Palanhuik
Happening by Andrew Drilon
Home for Christmas by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
How Saint Miko and I Ruined the Apocalypse
In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
In the Late December by Greg van Eekhout
In the Reign of Harad IV by Steven Millhauser
Inhuman by Alex Osias
Iron Ankles by David Schwartz
joanierules.bloggermax.com by Nick Mamatas
Just Another Perfect Day by John Varley
La Malcontenta by Liz Williams
Life on the Moon by Tony Daniel
Limbo Years by Pearlsha Abubakar
Lines by Lakimbini Sitoy
Little Birds by Anais Nin
Little Dead Girl Singing by Stephen Galleger
Little Gods by Tim Pratt
Lola Ging and the Crispa Redmanizers by Nikki Alfar
Mahogany Water by Socorro Villanueva
Manuscript Found Written in the Paw Prints of a Stoat by Samantha Henderson
New Light on the Drake Equation by Ian McLeod
Nightfall by Charles Stross
Oceania by Andrew Drilon
On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning by Haruki Murakami
Patriotism by Yukio Mishima
Pip and the Faeries by Theodora Goss
Planet of the Amazon Women by David Moles
Princes of the Kingdom by Dean Francis Alfar
(push) by Dean Francis Alfar
Quiet Please by Aimee Bender
Raft by Stephen Baxter
Red Star Winter Orbit by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson
Secret Life by Jeff Vandermeer
Singing My Sister Down by Margo Laganan
Sins of the Father by S.E. Ward
Six from Downtown by Dean Francis Alfar
Snippets by Kate Aton-Osias
Spillage by Nancy Kress
Still Life with Boobs by Anne Harris
Sunday by Althea Kontis
Sunfast, Shadowplay, and Saintswalk by Rudi Dornemann
Swansdown by Deborah Roggie
Tactics at Twilight by Michael Cobley
Tales of the Chinese Zodiac by Jenn Reese
The 101st Michael by Kate Aton-Osias
The Apprenticeship of Isabetta di Pietro Cavazzi by L. Timmel Duchamp
The Art of Dying by KJ Bishop
The Artificial Cloud by Justin Tussing
The Baum Plan for Financial Independence by John Kessel
The Black Monkey by Edith Tiempo
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
The Clients of Caralios by CS Barlow
The Death of Fray Salvador Montano by Rosario Cruz-Lucero
The Dragons of Summer Gulch by Robert Reed
The Drowned Mermaid by Christopher Barzak
The Edge of the Bed of Forever by Jonathan Lethem & Angus Macdonald
The Emperor's Backscratcher by Anna Tambour
The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Four-thousand-year-old Boy by Lawrence Dyer
The Girl with the Heart of Stone by Leah Bobet
The Golden Age of Fire Escapes by John Aegard
The Golem by Avram Davidson
The Grammarian's Five Daughters By Eleanor Arnason
The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank Stockton
The Guerillero by Albalucia Angel
The Hero of the Snore Tango by Ian Rosales Casocot
The House Beyond Your Sky by Benjamin Rosenbaum
The Index of Forbidden Books by Paul de Guzman
The Jenna Set by Daniel Kaysen
The King of the Elves by Philip K. Dick
The Lost Archipelago by Alex Osias
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The Middle Prince by Dean Francis Alfar
The Narcissus Plague by Lisa Goldstein
The Recrudescence of Imray by Rudyard Kipling
The Reluctant Book by Paul di Filippo
The Sculptor by Garry Kilworth
The Shakespeare Guy by Exie Abola
The Soul Bottles by Jay Lake
The Thriller by Andrew Drilon
Tk'tk'tk by David D. Levine
Travels With The Snow Queen by Kelly Link
Two Dreams on Trains by Elizabeth Bear
Under the Moons of Jizma by Michael Andre-Driussi
Undercurrents by Janet Villa
Wail of the Sun by Vin Simbulan
We Have Always Spoken Panglish by Suzette Haden Elgin
What I Didn't See by Karen Joy Fowler
What You See Is Not What You Get by Vincent Michael Simbulan
Winged Victory by Sarah Prineas


Naturally, certain stories made their mark, and quickly became favorites of the group. In effect, these stories became benchmarks for our writing, examples of stories that work. I asked the Litcritters to select three stories for an imaginary virtual anthology, a little fun exercise. After discussion, here's the list of stories that we'd include:

Litcritter A
Undercurrents by Janet Villa
Sunfast, Shadowplay, and Saintswalk by Rudi Dornemann
The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Litcritter B
Little Gods by Tim Pratt
The Guerillero by Albalucia Angel
Fox Magic by Kij Johnson

Litcritter C
The Golden Age of Fire Escapes by John Aegard
Quiet Please by Aimee Bender
Iron Ankles by David Schwartz

Litcritter D
Mahogany Water by Socorro Villanueva
Travels With The Snow Queen by Kelly Link
Life on the Moon by Tony Daniel

Litcritter E
Pip and the Faeries by Theodora Goss
Singing My Sister Down by Margo Laganan
Tk'tk'tk by David D. Levine

Litcritter F
Secret Life by Jeff Vandermeer
Home for Christmas by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning by Haruki Murakami

With more stories coming, this list will change, of course. But it's wonderful discussing why certain people chose certain stories (we can't "save" them all) in this little exercise of editorial fiat.

I'm particularly floored by the two Filipino selections (Undercurrents and Mahogany Water), both beautifully written and well-observed.

Recommendations from blog readers of short fiction of all sorts are most welcome.

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