Sunday, December 19, 2010

ghosts of wan chai

One of my stories, "Ghosts of Wan Chai", is in the December issue of Our Own Voice.

It was first published in "Connecting Flights", an antho edited by Ruey de Vera.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

seeing at year's end

Whoa. I haven't been around here for some time.

And now, the obligatory preamble before I ramble on.

There was a time when I could barely restrain myself from blogging. But as time went on, the need for self-confessionals and such was gored to death by Facebook's status messages and even (to a smaller degree for me) Twitter. Without being fully aware of it, I was Borged into micro-blogging (if I did any true writing like that at all).

And the timesink that is Facebook, with Pet Society and Farmville, ate into a lot of my writing time. Not for fiction (I still managed to write a number of published stories this year) but for blogging. I managed to wean myself almost completely off PS, but FV is another matter. Perhaps it's my secret need for godhood (or maybe I really want to be a farmer, but in a world where Blueberries take only 4 hours to grow).

But while I have curtailed my blogging, I have continued thinking. My thought life is sectioned off into anxieties (business, health, family, writing), hopes (business, health, family, writing), worldbuilding (writing, games), and so on. I think about people I've met, films I've seen, books and comics I've read, games I've played, stuff I've done or not done.

It's nothing special. No extraordinary process here. People do it all the time, I know.

But in these times of quiet contemplation, when the weight of promises made exerts a deleterious gravity, when the scale of a human life can be rendered into telling details, when memory is both dubious and of sudden importance, I find myself asking questions. I consider regret. I examine my faith. And I am slowly coming to grips with what is truly important to me.

When I hit 40 (I'll be 42 this coming January - 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything, according to Mr. Adams), my body began to give in to time. Everything winds down, and the illusion of youth cannot be maintained. With my visit to the various doctors and the realization that if I do not change my lifestyle I can drop dead, things came into perspective.

Before you get the idea that this is a teary-eyed ode to lost youth and opportunities, get a hold of yourself.

What this is is me saying that what matters to me is simply living. Spending days with my wife and daughters and watching the little ones grow up. Spending time with friends just talking the night away, sharing speculative worlds. Writing stories that I'd want to read. Reading books that make me think. Watching films that move me or provoke me. Appreciating the humble egg.

My anti-climatic epiphany is that life, in all its real smallness and imagined bigness, is worth living, and I have chosen to experience everything in 3D full-color billion-dots-per-inch glory. It doesn't make me a better person, no, not really. But the perspective, the zoom ins and zooms outs, have dramatic effects.

It's the same world, and I've been in it before.

But this time, this time I choose to see.

Monday, July 12, 2010

call for submissions: philippine speculative fiction 6

Editors Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias invite you to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6.

Philippine Speculative Fiction is a yearly anthology series, which collects a wide range of stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between. The anthology has been shortlisted for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, and multiple stories from each volume have been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:

1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related ‘nonrealist’ genres and subgenres

2. written in English

3. authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished

2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500

3. written for an adult audience

In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work—if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other market until you have received a letter of regret from us.

2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to, with the subject line ‘PSF6 submission’.

3. The deadline for submissions is midnight, Manila time, November 15, 2010. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Editors’ notes:

1. Please don’t forget to indicate your real name in the submission email! If you want to write under a pseudonym, that’s fine, but this can be discussed upon story acceptance. Initially, we just need to know who we’re talking to.

2. If you’d like to write a cover letter with your brief bio and publishing history (if applicable), do feel free to introduce yourself—but not your story, please. If it needs to be explained, it’s probably not ready to be published.

3. We advise authors to avoid fancy formatting—this will just be a waste of your time and ours, since we will, eventually, standardize fonts and everything else to fit our established house style.

Compensation will be Php500 for selected stories. In previous years, we’ve provided contributor copies of the book, as well as small royalty shares, but we are strongly leaning toward shifting Philippine Speculative Fiction to digital format, so we’re shifting to outright financial payment as well.

Please help spread the word! We’d really appreciate it if you’d publish this invitation on your blog, e-group, etc.


Nikki Alfar & Kate Aton-Osias, co-editors

Dean Alfar, publisher


Sunday, July 11, 2010

LitCritters readings for July 17

Hey LitCritters!

Our next sessions is on July 17, 2010 at 2PM over at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Robinsons Galleria. The stories we'll discuss are the following (take note that the navigation for the MacDonald story is a little tricky):

"The Queen of Spades" by Alexander Pushkin

"The Light Princess" by George Macdonald

"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl

See you there.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

return of the litcrittters


After a long hiatus, we are back! Read the stories below and meet up with us on Saturday, June 26, 2PM at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Robinsons Galleria.

Here are the stories we'll discuss - just follow the links:

Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed

Spar by Kij Johnson

Swan by Ellis O'Neal

See you soon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

book launch: philippine speculative fiction 5

Philippine Speculative Fiction has become one of the country’s most consistent and highly-anticipated yearly anthology series, showcasing the continuing development of the exciting field of speculative fiction writing. This fifth volume, edited by Nikki Alfar and Vincent Michael Simbulan, collects a broad spectrum of short stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between—featuring the work of both literary luminaries and very new voices, from across the archipelago and the globe. PSF 5 contains stories by:

Angelo R. ‘Sarge’ Lacuesta

Dean Francis Alfar

Rica Bolipata-Santos

Paolo Gabriel V. Chikiamco

Timothy James Dimacali

Joseph F. Nacino

Charles Tan

Dominique Gerald Cimafranca

Isabel Yap

Christine V. Lao

Raymond G. Falgui

Mia Tijam

Joseph Anthony Montecillo

Ejay Domingo

Apol Lejano-Massebieau

Veronica Montes

Alexander Osias

Fidelis Angela C. Tan

Andrew Drilon

Gabriela Lee

Aileen Familara

Marla Cabanban

Eliza Victoria

Kate Aton-Osias

Kenneth Yu

Join us at the book launch on April 24, 2010 at 3PM, U-View Theater, Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

health schmealth

Sadly, I can't go "health schmealth" anymore. As I grow older, parts of me are just getting tired. This year, my litany of woes continued to grow, and so I finally finally decided to do something about the things I could do something about - bridgework for my teeth (yes, I honestly prefer to chew instead of gumming my food to death) despite my fear of the dentist (I take on the multiple injections, both long and short, with a certain degree of quivering resignation), and help for my eyes.

For around 25 years, I have been relying on my right eye for almost all of my sight, as my poor near-sighted astigmatic left eye can barely see jack shit. A decade or so ago, i had a brief dalliance with glasses (smashed, lost, sat upon, bent) and contact lenses (or, more properly, contact lens - since I wore only one) which did not work out (swallowed it - a long and somewhat amusing story). But with the onset of age and the incipient threat of farsightedness for my working eye, a visit to the optha was in the cards.

When lenses were tested for my left eye, and when we achieved one that permitted me to SEE, I was beside myself with joy. And a little vertigo, which was not because of sublime emotion but due to the fact that my brain was merging my suddenly-sighted lazy eye with my right workhorse. I walked around with the tester, looking like a poor imagining of a steampunk commoner, but I was really happy.

I prepared myself for the cost of my new progressive lenses and frame and was a little shocked when it wasn't that astronomical (compared to my bridgework, which all my descendants will need to work to pay for, long after I quit this mortal coil). Unlike our parents' bifocals, the progressive lenses integrate near, middle and far distance corrections in one miraculous curve. It will require practice to shift my eyes around but that's fine.

My diet (do not blame the lovely liempo!) and smoking (gasp! can it be?!) SHOULD be next, but the willingness is not there. Yet. I think I can work out the diet thing, but smoking is... what? A quality of life issue (hahaha)? Overwrought overextended teenage rebellion? A writer's crutch? intellectually, I know it's horrible for me but part of me says "too bad, then" even as my cells, perhaps inevitably, form into the letter "C".

We'll see. (Or is it "Will C?")

fully booked awards

1st - "A Kind of Flotsam" - Christelle Rhodamae Mariano
2nd - "Filipina: The Super Maid" - Irene Carolina Sarmiento
3rd (tie) - "Cherry Clubbing" - Kenneth Yu
3rd (tie) - "Remembrance" - me :)

Video from Tania.