Monday, September 29, 2008

pinoy spec fic among the best of the year

One of the books that Nikki and I (and the LitCritters) look forward to every year is The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, an annual thickie chockfull of wonderful stories from around the world.

The editors (Ellen Datlow for Horror, and Kelly Link & Gavin Grant for Fantasy) scour a veritable mountain of publications from around the world (and the internet), from the New Yorker to Strange Horizons, taking on magazines, periodicals, anthologies, collections and websites, seeking the best stories of the year. The annuals are fascinating reads for a number of reasons: as an indicator of zeitgeist and authorial concerns/themes, as a showcase for startling new ways to tell stories, as a primer for what makes excellent spec fic (YBFH reprints stories previously published in other sources, which means that their selections pass through two editing/vetting processes), and as an introduction to new authors whose work may be difficult for the regular reader to find. It is an honor to be selected (I had one story chosen for the 17th annual collection, and still get all fanboysy when I see my story along the likes of Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Nathan Ballingrud) and there is much happiness in being part of the list of Honorable Mentions.

This year, six stories from Philippine Speculative Fiction III (Kestrel) are Honorable Mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2008:

"Hamog" by Joanna Paula L. Cailas
"The Datu's Daughters" by Raymond G. Falgui
"Pedro Diyego's Homecoming" by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
"In Earthen Vessels" by Rodello Santos
"Sidhi" by Yvette Natalie U. Tan
“The Ascension of Our Lady Boy” by Mia Tijam

Huzzah! Not bad for a small press driven by a hope for bigger things.

And to make things even better, two more stories by Filipinos made it to the list from other sources:

“The River Stone Heart of Maria Dela Rosa” by Kate Aton-Osias (from Serendipity)
“Stella for Star” by Yvette Natalie U. Tan (from Expeditions – which gives Yvette a double whammy!)

Nikki and I very proud and happy that these stories, both the ones from our antho and the ones from Serendipity and Expeditions (from Fully Booked), have been read and appreciated. This is our reward - validation that we Filipinos, clearly, can write spec fic with the best of them – we just need to produce more, produce excellent stories consistently, and submit to the markets. This – the act of writing and getting published and read – is more important than the inbred navel-gazing many of us tend to do, arguing semantics and terminologies instead of writing.

(This is our biggest number of citations. In Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.1,we had:

"Emberwild" by Nikki Alfar
"In the Arms of Beishu" by Vincent Michael Simbulan
"Lovelore" by Francezca Kwe

and in Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2:

"Feasting" by Joshua Lim So
"Six from Downtown" by Dean Francis Alfar
"The Sign of the Cross" by Stanley Geronimo)

Kudos to Joanna, Raymond, Apol, Rod, Yvette, Mia and Kate!

And even bigger thanks to Nikki, who did all the heavy lifting and edits (without her, we couldn’t publish a word)!

And to add to my almost indecent happiness, my work is cited in the Single Author Story Collection, just above Lucius Shepard (fanboy thrill, I tell you) in Link and Grant’s Fantasy Summation:

“Editor and writer-to-watch Dean Francis Alfar is at the forefront of a recent and vigorous speculative fiction scene in the Philippines. His first collection, The Kite of Stars and Other Stories (Anvil) contains tales that draw on the traditions and tropes of magic realism.”

And also in Ellen Datlow’s Horror Summation:

The Kite of Stars and Other Stories by the Filipino writer Dean Francis Alfar (Anvil Publishing) features eighteen stories, most previously published in venues ranging from Strange Horizons and Bewildering Stories to the Philippines Free Press. Five of the stories were published in magazines and anthologies in 2007 and one is original to the collection.”

Many, many thanks to Ellen, Kelly and Gavin for every word of encouragement.

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