Wednesday, December 21, 2005

penman & spec fic

Butch Dalisay is one of the writers I look up to. Truly. I am in near-awe of this man. So when he writes in both the Philippine Star and his blog about the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology I put together, I am elated.

Go and read - and discover his secret scifi past (that really made my day).

And today we have new cause for celebration, with the recent launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 1, edited by Dean Francis Alfar. The 200-plus-page book (published by Kestrel, Inc., and available for P300 at all Fully Booked and Comic Quest branches) features the work of 18 young Filipinos – some younger, some better known than others, but all of them imbued with the same visionary zeal that the editor (last year’s grand prize winner for the novel in English in the Palancas) is making a name for. The back-cover blurb declares that "Between these covers you will find magic realism next to science fiction, traditional fantasy beside slipstream, and imaginary worlds rubbing shoulders with alternate Philippine history – demonstrating that the literature of the fantastic is alive and well in the Philippines."

Dean, whom I first met in a UP Writers Workshop many years ago, is proving to be a powerful and positive influence over a group of young authors and artists dedicated to new forms of and new directions in Philippine writing, beyond the sometimes stolid realism that I and my generation of writers espouse. (His wife Nikki, herself a Palanca prizewinner, shares in this mission.) While paying homage to their elders and precursors like Alfred Yuson and Rosario Lucero, these young writers are seeking to write what Alfar calls a true "literature of the fantastic – unashamedly magical, beyond lyricism and tenor and style." Dean explains further: "To find the fantastic, we must create the fantastic. We must write it ourselves, develop it brick by enchanted brick. We must write literature that unabashedly revels in wonder, infused with the culture of our imagination – which means being Filipino and, at the same time, surrendering that very same limiting notion – being more than Filipino, unleashing the Filipino of our imagination, divorcing and embracing the ideas of identity, nationhood and universality. We need to do magic."

My next mission? To somehow persuade Butch to contribute a scifi piece for next year's edition. And while I'm at it, I'll hunt down Krip.

Salamat, Butch!


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