Thursday, October 30, 2008

the people who grinned themselves to death

Yes, right now I keep a grim grin on my face as I wrestle with all the work requirements of various projects. Work is always good (and I'm not complaining about revenue streams) but the unavoidable confluence of deadlines, change orders, new requirements and multiple meetings tend to wear on me more as I get older. I'm thinking maybe I need more sleep or vitamins, haha.

The nature of my work requires me to be able to listen and pitch ideas in an instant, followed by execution plans usually in the same conversation. It is always exciting (and sometimes nervewracking) and is one of the aspects of my work that I love. But sometimes I long for a less stressful life. But it is what it is, so we move on.

Couple of bits of good news for me this week:

"Belongings: Stories of Relationships" edited by Linda Panlilio and published by Anvil was launched yesterday. It was fun event, with us signing books in a production line and my joshing around with Danton Remoto about him and myself being the youngest writers there ("Yes,
he agreed, "But you look older than me"). Jimmy Abad was a blast to talk to.

"The Kite of Stars and Other Stories" is a finalist for the National Book Award this year. Win or no win, I'm happy that these spec fic stories are being read in the first place. It's an honor to be recognized and is encouragement to produce more.

Here's the full list from Isagani Cruz:

ANTHOLOGY: A la Carte, edited by Cecile Manguerra Brainard and Marily Ysip Orosa; At Home in Unhomeliness, edited by J. Neil C. Garcia; Best Filipino Stories, edited by Gemino H. Abad and Gregorio C. Brillantes; Cordillera in June, edited by B. P. Tapang; Ang Dagling Tagalog, 1903-1936, edited by Rolando B. Tolentino and Aristotle Atienza; Mga Piling Dulang Mindanao, edited by Arthur P. Casanova; Very Short Stories for Harried Readers, edited by Vicente Garcia Groyon.

ART/ALFONSO T. ONGPIN PRIZE: Philippine Church Façades, by Pedro G. Galende, OSA; Pinoy Dressing, by Barge Ramos; Salvador F. Bernal, by Nicanor G. Tiongson.

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY: From Barrio to Senado, by Juan M. Flavier; Legends & Adventures, by Carmen Guerrero Nakpil; A Man and His Music, by Angel M. Peña; Maria Kalaw Katigbak, by Monina Allarey Mercado.

CHILDREN'S LITERATURE: The Boy Who Touched Heaven/Ang Batang Humipo sa Langit, by Iris Gem Li, translated by Roberto Añonuevo; Dalawang Bayani ng Bansa, by Rene O. Villanueva; Sampu Pataas, Sampu Pababa, by Russell Molina; Tight Times, by Jeanette C. Patindol.

COOKBOOKS AND FOOD: Cooking for Health, by Cris C. Abiva, Luz S. Callanta, and Atel E. Jazmines; An Introduction to Coffee, by Pacita U. Juan and Ma. Regina S. Francisco.

DRAMA: Psychedelia Apocalypsis at Iba Pang Dula, by Nicolas B. Pichay; Tatlong Paglalakbay, by Tony Perez.

EDUCATION: Magaling ang Pinoy!, by Queena N. Lee-Chua, Ma. Isabel Sison-Dionisio, and Nerisa C. Fernandez.

ESSAY/CREATIVE NONFICTION: Into the Country of Standing Men, by Rey Ventura; Pagmumuni-muni at Pagtatalak ng Sirenang Nagpapanggap na Prinsesa, by J. I. E. Teodoro; Tongues on Fire, by Conrado de Quiros.

FICTION/JUAN C. LAYA PRIZE: Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street, by Benjamin Pimentel.

SHORT FICTION: The Kite of Stars & Other Stories, by Dean Francis Alfar.

HISTORY: Assembly of the Nation, by Manuel L. Quezon III, Jeremy R. Barns, Emmanuel A. Albano, Ricardo T. Jose, and Manuel F. Martinez; Forcing the Pace, by Ken Fuller; Kolonyal na Patakaran at Nagbabagong Kamalayang Filipino, by Raul C. Navarro; Occupation, by Benito J. Legarda Jr.; The Saga of La Naval, edited by Lito B. Zulueta.

JOURNALISM: Dateline Manila, by Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines; Exposé, by Boy Villasanta; The Rulemakers, by Sheila S. Coronel, Yvonne T. Chua, Luz Rimban, and Booma B. Cruz.LAW: A Living Constitution, by Joaquin G. Bernas SJ.

LINGUISTICS: (Re)making Society, edited by T. Ruanni F. Tupas.

LITERARY CRITICISM: Ang Bayan sa Labas ng Maynila / The Nation Beyond Manila, by Rosario Cruz-Lucero; A Handbook of Philippine Folklore, by Mellie Leandicho Lopez; Sipat Kultura, by Rolando B. Tolentino.

MEDICINE: Bone Tumors in Filipinos, by Edward H. M. Wang and Ariel Vergel de Dios.P

OETRY: Antisi*Pasyon asin iba pang Rawitdawit sa Bikol asin Ingles / Anticipation and Other Poems in Bikol and English, by Victor Dennis T. Nierva, translated by Marne L. Kilates and H. Francisco V. Peñones Jr.; Dissonant Umbrellas, by Angelo V. Suarez; Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles, by Santiago B. Villafania; Mannahatta Mahal, by Luis Cabalquinto; Mostly in Monsoon Weather, by Marne L. Kilates; Passage, by Edgar B. Maranan; Pusuanon, by Kristian Sendon Cordero, translated by Marne L. Kilates and H. Francisco V. Peñones Jr.; Textual Relations, by Ramil Digal Gulle.

SCIENCES: Living with Nature in Our Times, by Abercio V. Rotor.

SOCIAL SCIENCES: Colonial Pathologies, by Warwick Anderson; The Dynamics of Regional Development, edited by Arsenio M. Balisacan and Hal Hill.

SPORTS: Sports @ Far Eastern University, by Manolo R. Iñigo, Mark Molina, and Gloria R. Aligada.

THEOLOGY & RELIGION: Body and Sexuality, edited by Agnes M. Brazal and Andrea Lizares Si; God's Global Household, by Andrew Gimenez Recepcion; Investing in Miracles, by Katharine L. Wiegele.

TRANSLATION: Lagalag sa Nanyang, translated by Joaquin Sy from Nanyang Piaoliuji, by Bai Ren.

TRAVEL: Baler, Aurora, by Edgardo J. Angara, Jesus T. Peralta, Domingo Madulid, Jose Maria A. Cariño, Xavier Brisset, Enrique Quezon Avanceña, Manuel L. Quezon III, Ricardo T. Jose, and Juan Edgardo M. Angara; Iloilo, edited by Anita Feleo.

BEST DESIGN: Dissonant Umbrellas, designed by Angelo V. Suarez, Constantino Zicarelli, Keith Dador, Sandra Palomar, Mark Salvatus, Stephanie Yapnayon, Macy Cruz, Mike Mendoza, Julie Grafia, and Dwein Trahata Baltazar; Cebu, designed by Norrino C. Hernandez; Lola Puti, designed by Vanessa Tamayo; Pearl of the Orient, designed by Felix Mago Miguel; The Saga of La Naval, designed by Bong Bundag, Florentino Bolo OP, and Robbie Villegas; Salvador F. Bernal, designed by Brian Tenorio; Sol, designed by Farley del Rosario; Tight Times, designed by Sergio T. Bumatay III.

The book entitled Vocabulary of the Kapampangan Language in Spanish and Dictionary of the Spanish Language in Kapampangan will be given a citation.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

sick is no fun

Been knocked down for the past few days.

Should have gotten the flu shot.

Back at work, though groggy.

Lots to do.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

grimoire of the rift

I'm a big fan of Square Enix; Final Fantasy has been something I've loved (started with FF VII and onwards, then backwards with the earlier games in the series for the DS). But more than Final Fantasy, I am a devotee of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Oh, the drama. And the job system. And the battles! Yes, the battles.

Nikki surprised me with Final Fantasy Tactics A2, which is now firmly slotted into my DS and eating up a shocking amount of time. The game has everything I love about the series, with over 50 jobs, multiple races and the battles, yes, the battles.

Check out the website (it's in flash but worth the wait) and get a glimpse at what consumes me nowadays.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.
(On a side note, I wish Song Summoner: the Unsung Heroes were available for my iPhone.)

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Monday, October 13, 2008

litcritters session

Join us this Saturday, October 18th, 2PM at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf over at Robinsons Galleria.

We'll be talking about the following stories:

Answers to a Questionaire by J.G. Ballard
The Toymaker's Grief by Hal Duncan
The Empress Jingu Fishes by Kij Johnson
The Mandrake Garden by Brian Stableford

If you're interested, just join the LitCritters Google Group, read the stories and jump into the fray.


vignette: nightflier

“Oh my God, Tasyo,” Mateo said softly. “What have you done?”

At that moment, Poleng flew into the room, her face contorted in incoherent rage, held aloft by furiously beating wings, her mouth spewing unintelligible words. Her intestines trailed her grotesquely fluttering torso, polished by the rain into unwholesome whorls and knots of blue and gray.

“No, no,” Mateo whispered.

“Poleng!” Tasyo shouted beside him. “I’m here!”

With an inhuman shriek, Poleng cut through the air toward the two men.

As Mateo felt his body give way to the weakening power of terror, Tasyo pulled out his gun and shot at the nightflier. Thunder coincided with the shot’s report, serving to drown Poleng’s screams of pain. Mateo managed to raise his head in time to see the creature hovering only a few feet away, her face contorted in pain, her hands clutched to her left breast where blood blossomed against her chemise.

“Devilspawn,” Tasyo shouted, firing at the mannanggal again. “Murderer! Die, in the name of God!”

The second shot sent Poleng spinning across the room, close to window where her lower half stood unmoving. With monstrous determination she picked up her legs and took to the air, out of the window and into the rain toward the river before either man could move again.

Tasyo rushed to the window, gun still in hand.

“Tasyo,” Mateo said as he found his voice. “She’s, she’s—"

“That monster will not get away from me,” Tasyo said as he ran out of the room.

Mateo followed him down the steps, scattering the bewildered servants, out of the house.
As they ran in the downpour in the direction of the river, Mateo begged Tasyo to stop.

“Please,” Mateo shouted against the wind. “Please, let’s just go back. She’s no longer human, she’s--”


The slight sliver of the moon and the feral storm rendered the land both dark and dangerous. Tiny rivulets crisscrossed the earth as the men followed the sound of the river for interminable minutes, both of them unaware that the tributary had long since broken free of its usual boundaries, forcefed by the storm.

At one exquisite moment, a stroke of lightning lit up the countryside, illuminating the monstrous form of Poleng, leatherlike wings flapping, fighting the pull of gravity and the thrust of rain-infused winds. Mateo and Tasyo stood at the edge of land newly claimed by the river as its own.

Tasyo fired wildly, once, twice, thrice, into the gloom, rewarded moments later by a scream and the sound of something falling into the water. Another fortuitous flash of lightning revealed the mannanggal clinging on to a rock, having lost of her lower half when she fell, her wings shredded and useless.

“I’m going to finish her,” Tasyo shouted as he rushed into the turbulent water.

“Tasyo, no!” Mateo pleaded, taking a step in the dark, finding himself suddenly in water up to his knees, his feet somehow managing to find purchase in the mud. “Just let her – Just let her go!”

In the dim light he saw Tasyo wading waist-high in the river, heading toward an outcropping of rock that Poleng held on to.

“Tasyo!” Mateo screamed against the storm as he struggled to keep his balance in the wild rapids of the swollen river. “Tasyo!”

“Tonight you die, monster!” Tasyo shouted at the hissing Poleng, raising his gun.

At that moment, a coffin, violently unearthed from the graveyard upstream by the confluence of riparian power and the relentless tempest, surged into the water, smashing the oblivious Tasyo squarely on the head, before turning sideways and coming to a temporary stop against the rock that the winged half of Poleng clung to for life. Tasyo’s limp body was swept away by the churning water as Mateo screamed his friend’s name over and over again.

Poleng started at the coffin as its lid sprung open at the moment of impact, revealing the lifeless corpse of Leandro. With tears that mingled with the rainwater, the mannanggal flung herself onto the cadaver, her bleeding arms and ineffectual wings embracing her lover as they rode the coffin to the distant sea.

It was in this way that Mateo witnessed a dead man achieve vengeance against his murderer and save the woman he once loved, if there was indeed salvation where the river ended and the sea began.

Mateo did not stop trembling until he was a tricycle, bus and airplane ride away the next day, ignoring the wailing of Mariella, the faces of the townspeople, and the ceaseless rain that followed him all the way back to Manila.


Friday, October 10, 2008


If you haven't had a chance to, go and grab a copy of Khavn's Ultraviolins.

Refreshingly original, irreverent, even kinky - a spicy read on any humdrum day.
- F. Sionil Jose
National Artist for Literature

Remove all the consciousness you learned for reading stories and poems from elementary to college. Accept that the author in front of you is consciously being insane so you don't have to go looking for anything as boring as sanity. Khavn is Khavn, poet, musician, filmmaker, special, unique, original.
- Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature

Translated to English from the original Filipino by:

Cyan Abad-Jugo
Noel Del Prado
Mayo Uno Martin
Pearlsha Abubakar
Karl R. De Mesa
Zosimo Quibilan Jr.
Dean Francis Alfar
Carljoe Javier
Erwin Romulo
Juaniyo Arcellana
Francezca Kwe
Daryl A. Valenzuela
Daryll Jane Delgado
Angelo R. Lacuesta

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

on my nightstand

Yes, guerilla-reading style nowadays:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia
Superpowers: A Novel by David J. Schwartz
The Starry Rift by Jonathan Strahan
Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories by Owen King and John McNally
Bagets by Carla Pacis and Eugene Evasco
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection (Year's Best Science Fiction) by Gardner Dozois
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 2 by Jonathan Strahan
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune (Thieves' World) by Lynn Abbey
The Hellboy Companion by Mike Mignola, Stephen Weiner, Jason Hall, and Victoria Blake
Hero by Perry Moore
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends by Avram Davidson

And over at my office desk:

Superheroes by John Varley and Mainhardt
A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

I'm going through the anthos, as well as the essays and non-fiction. The novels require more time - but I'm loving Oscar Wao (astounding) and Schwartz's Superpowers (now I want to write superhero fiction too!).


putting out fires, dealing with ripples

Part of running a business is putting out fires - those incidents that spring up from time to time, unwanted and unbidden, that raise the difficulty level of a project or threaten the timeline or deliverables. Fires are a fact of life and dealing with them, over the course of years, is a matter of being to step back, analyze the situation, come up with solutions and implement those in a timely manner (of course, interspersed with varying degrees of panic, cigarettes and playful snark, mixed with black humor, because at the end of the day, you gotta laugh to keep things in perspective, even if it hurts to laugh - but that's us Filipinos, we deal with stress by disempowering it with humor).

One of the worst fires I had to put out was a couple of years back and I was not in Manila. My cell phone run out of power fielding calls coming in from client and my office and my own outgoing calls to my office and suppliers. Thankfully, things were settled after hours of mediation (and an understanding client). But I had a headache for the rest of the night.

Now it's one thing to be bedeviled with project-related circumstances (which at least I can deal with personally), and another thing to be on the receiving end of a ripple effect.

One of the biggest US companies, affected by the turn of events in the financial sector, went on a global downsizing. We serve one of their Asian branches, which was served notice that something like 60% of their people were being let go. Which triggered an end, for now, of projects from them to us, as cost-cutting and project rationalization are implemented. Ripples.

The loss of future revenue from our friends there is painful, yes. But even more painful is the fact that so many people will be out of work in the next few weeks - including our friends there, eliminated as if they were in some horrible reality show. With the economic downturn, I'm not certain of job opportunities in their country, but I can certainly hope for the best for them. They've been wonderful clients - zero fires - in the time I've worked with them. And have become friends, even though only via telecons and email.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008


There's an old cliche that goes something like "Nakakatanggal ng pagod kapag makita mo ang mga anak mo paguwi galing sa trabaho". And while not 100% true (I'm still tired and sometimes doze off - it seems love can be soporific), I'm always happy to see my girls (siyempre, pati ang asawa). When I get home from work, we all sprawl on the big bed (careful not to crush the infant) and marvel at Rowan's desire to stand, at her powerful kicks, at the way she gazes out at the world and every new thing.

Sage loves holding her baby sister (though I must confess extreme anxiety when I see her walking around the house with Rowan in her arms - natatakot ako na baka mahulog kasi), reading her books, and singing to her.

The impatient part of me wants Rowan to start talking, so we can have a conversation. But another part of me knows to value this time in my youngest daughter's life, when her mother and I have all the answers to her needs and inarticulate questions.

It always saddens me, thinking about the future, when my daughters are fully grown. It's a given that things will change, yes, but I hope that I'll be the type of father who remains relevant in their lives. I know it's too far, way off into multiple tomorrows, but, well...

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martial law babies

A new book by Arnold Arre is always something to look forward to.

Martial Law Babies, published by Nautilus, is just around the corner. Preorder now and get P50 off the cover price!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

belonging & bewildering


Everyone is invited to the launch of Belonging: Stories of Relationships, edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio (Anvil Publishing) on October 29, 2008, 6PM, at Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati . It's a book of primarily creative non-fiction (which is scarily new to me, but I gave it my best shot LOL).

Here's the TOC:

Care of Light by Gemino H. Abad
Suddenly My Brothers’ Keeper by Myrna Almario Adriano
I, D.I. by Dean Francis Alfar
A Non-CautionaryTale of an Internet Romance by Joi Barrios
To Live and To Love with Lesbian Pride by Libay LInsangan Cantor
Sapay Koma by Jhoanna Cruz
A Marriage of Equals by Rina Jimenez David
A Lost Childhood by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.
A Bond Like No Other by Monina Enage & Rica E.Villalon
Mother of the Dog by Alya B. Honasan
Letter from the Old Man by Sarge Lacuesta
Sisters in Christ by Sr. Mary John Mananzan
The Grandparents I Knew & Loved by Ed Maranan
Gemini Twins by Maria Cristina D. Olbes
Not All Stepmothers Are Created Equal by Marily Ysip Orosa
Pindang by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio
Love and All That Chuvaness by Danton Remoto
No Questions Asked by Michael L. Tan
That Extra Something by Edith L. Tiempo
My Parents’ Child: The Family Writing Business by Rowena T. Torrevillas
Destiny in a Wall of Tiles by Xin Mei
The Godfather as Caring Proxy by Alfred A. Yuson
Amp by Ricardo M. de Ungria


Got a happy note from Donn Webb, the Managing Editor of Bewildering Stories. One of my stories, reprinted there, "The Maiden and the Crocodile", made their selection list for this year's third quarterly review. Thanks, Donn - that made my day!

Two other stories made the list in previous years: "The Middle Prince" in 2006, and "Into the Morning" in 2007.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

spec fic: literary vs entertaining?

At the recent Manila Book Fair, Kenneth Yu, Jade Bernas and I were part of a panel and spoke about publishing (as publishers of Philippine Genre Stories, Story Philippines and PSF).

I told Kenneth - and the audience - that the editorial "policy" (this is such a slippery word and is a combination of aesthetics, poetics and whathaveyous) of the antho Nikki and I edit is unabashedly literary - which is to say, we tend to publish more stories that she and I consider to have literary merit. This slant (which can, yes, be called a bias) is reflective of our own tastes as readers and writers (aside: Nikki and I have our disagreements on stories, which makes story selection quite interesting). The stories Nikki and I like to read, and those we attempt to write (whether successfully or not - the thing is in the doing and trying again), reflect this.

What does this mean? Personally speaking, the very core of this is my admiration for a well-written story. On one hand, it needs to work simply as a story, on a story level, on a reader level. On the other hand, it needs to, on some other level/s, be more than just a story: I look for "literariness". My taste in stories is deeply influenced by the "what" and "how" elements in the narrative text - how these are handled by the author.

There are at least two levels in a narrative text: something that occurs is related or told in some way. In structuralist terminology the "what" of the narrative is called story, the "how"is called discourse . Story consists of events and existents. Discourse consists of the various elements of transmission. I look at these elements when I read, and along with the sensibilities I've gotten from reading other books and stories plus the deep influence of my writerly growing-up experiences plus my own ongoing shifts in taste plus other things that influence me whether I am aware of these or not (pop culture, music, art, life), and then come up with my opinion on whether or not a story worked - for me. So yes, I do have a preference, a leaning towards well-written stories, literary stories.

But this does not mean that I will squash a story that does not "live up" to what I think makes a good story. There are many stories I've encountered that defy what I think makes a well-written story that manage to move and provoke me anyway (in the very first year of PSF, for instance, Khavn' story floored me). This constant testing of my own boundaries of taste/preference is what makes being a reader and an editor so rewarding. Once in a while, a story comes along that causes an upheaveal in my view of things, and I am left reeling, and smiling. As a reader, I need to be able to read beyond my preferences. And as an editor, I need to be willing to stretch and snap and accept and explore spaces and learn - so that as a writer I can use new techniques, new ways of approaching narrative modes, focalization, representation of consciousness, plot, narrative voice and so on, so I can tell a better story, or tell my story in a different way.

In the same panel, Kenneth said that if Philippine Speculative Fiction is unabashed literary, then his publication, Philippine Genre Stories, is unabashedly not. Jade Bernas said that the main editorial guideline of Story Philippines in terms of selecting which story to publish is that the story must be entertaining. I love these two publications and agree with them - that stories need not be literary, that entertainment is not a bad thing. Does that make PSF and PGS and Story Philippines at odds with each other?

Absolutely not.

There are many different kinds of stories and no one editor should be able to say "Hey, only this type of story is good." I am definitely for a plurality of voices and publish just one antho a year - which should not be taken as the authority. The developing spec fic scene is here because there is Philippine Genre Stories, and Story Philippines, and Philippines Free Press, and Philippine Graphic, and other publications now and in the past. The developing spec fic scene exists because writers were writing fantasy, science fiction and horror earlier than Kyu or Jade or I began publishing. And the spec fic scene (I confess discomfort with this word "scene", but nevermind) will go on because of other editors, other writers, other critics, other publishers. But Kenneth, Jade and I do what we can, publishing spec fic stories that are entertaining or literary or whatever.

The goal, after all, of our three publications is to be read. And it is the reader who has the makes the choice to read or not read, buy or not buy.

The literary spec fic story can and should be entertaining (thought-provoking or moving or intriguing or delightful or funny; in other words, able to engage the reader) as well - my only caveat (which, for what should to me be a non-negotiable, is more and more often happily dismissed by a story that simply works) is that the story be well-written.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

talking spec fic

I'm glad that a lot more people are talking about speculative fiction (PGS collects the various threads here). Some reacted to one of my posts on the need for a critical framework for Philippine spec fic, others blogged after the LitCritters panel at UP, others react to the continuing publication of the anthology I co-edit, some take issue with the term "spec fic", some demand for the "movement" (note the quotation marks) to validate itself, some ask where the Filipino and regional language stories are (as I told Luna Sicat, and as I've written about before, I also want to see anthos dedicated to spec fic that is not English), some react to other bloggers, and so what we happily have at this point are conversations between authors, readers, editors, and critics (both from academe and from outside academe).

(UPDATE: Adam David looks at the stories in PSFIII, beginning with Apol Lejano-Massebieau's "Pedro Diyego's Homecoming". Hopefully, he gets through the entire book.)

It is vital that we keep talking to each other, that we ask difficult questions, that we wrestle as we write and produce stories, that we publish and read, that we communicate. Of course we will never all agree on everything, but that is the way of things - we grow because of differences in points-of-view, in our poetics and approaches and philosophies, and yes, how we define things.

I look at all of these discussions and seething blog posts, even the dismissive and seemingly narrow-minded ones, as much-welcome activity. I am but one voice in a plurality of writers and editors and publishers here, offering one man's perspective - we need more and more ways to look at things. I'm glad spec fic - the writing, the production, the definition, the approaches - is provocative.

It should be.

Prior to putting out the first annual Philippine Speculative Fiction antho, we barely spoke about these things. Now we're talking, and the arguments are fast and furious and heartfelt and intellectual and off-the-cuff and fresh - thanks to the power of the internet which allows all of us to speak our minds in any way we please in our blogs (as opposed to having to wait for a letter of comment or a critical essay to be published somewhere in print). My stand in all this is to encourage discussion (but also to reiterate my focus - that all this talk is well and good, but at some point we all need to stop talking and get to writing stories, which, in turn, will provide us more things to talk about later).

I love the fact that I am not alone in struggling with what spec fic is, and what makes filipino spec fic, and where it is going or what it needs to be, and what it means to be a Filipino writer of speculative fiction, and what speculative fiction means. I'm glad that people feel strongly enough to write and to question and to try to parse out answers and positions.

My hope is that sometime soon there will be other anthologies of spec fic published here, in different languages, helmed by editors with different poetics. I want to see the day when the genres under the umbrella have their own anthos, something like The Year's Best Filipino Fantasy or Best Tagalog Science Fiction - there should be, as these genres predate the umbrella term. I want to see magazines and publications dedicated exclusively to scifi, horror or interstitial fiction. I want fantasy workshops in Iluko or Bicolano. And where is the spec fic poetry? Mikael Co, for example, has made his mark on the Philippine poetic landscape because he writes excellent nationalistic poetry in both English and Filipino (he's a back to back Palanca 1st prize winner in Poetry in both languages)- why can't there be poetry for pinoy scifi or fantasy?

Someone should do it. Someone should do these things.

Someone should put together these anthos in different Philippine languages, create new publications, organize workshops, and champion these forms of writing.

People should start working towards concrete answers to their demands, write the stories that we lack, and create the texts that will describe the map of our writing. People should market their works, get readers excited and reading, and hopefully inspire more people to write in this vein, understanding that business (publishing) and the market (the readers) are part of the literary landscape and the cycle of production.

In my own small way I do what I can (PSF is self-published and every year is a struggle to come up with funding), as do publishers like Kenneth Yu, businesses like Fully Booked, bigger entities like Anvil, but clearly we ought to work harder to create more spaces, more opportunities.

In the future (since I embrace the "speculative") I want to see, here in our store bookshelves, and in the hands of readers, Filipino books filled with spec fic, similar to the ones a search on for "speculative fiction" brings (some descriptions cut-and-pasted):

Encountering Enchantment: A Guide to Speculative Fiction for Teens - From School Library Journal - This useful guide should be in every YA collection. It encompasses 13 genres and subgenres included in the term "speculative fiction" and focuses on in-print titles published in the last 15 years. Each subgenre is clearly defined, and most of the 1400 titles are accompanied by a brief synopsis. Awards for each title are noted. At the end of each section, the author lists exemplary titles. The volume is well indexed, providing access by author, title, subject, and award. A bibliography and webliography point to additional resources. Other features include programming ideas, best titles for book clubs, and those available in A/V formats. The author interview in each subgenre is a welcome addition.

New Wave of Speculative Fiction: The What If Factor - "brimming with quality writing, speculation about what might be, a mix of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, as well as some new twists on classic themes."

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction's Finest Voices - Declaring that short stories are the heart and soul of fantastical fiction, prolific and venerable editor Datlow collects 16 impressive original stories in this unthemed anthology. Standout selections include Margo Lanagan's deeply disturbing The Goosle, which eloquently corrupts the Hansel and Gretel fable with bubonic plague, sexual slavery and mass murder; Jason Stoddard's The Elephant Ironclads, which describes an emergent 20th-century Navajo nation struggling to become a world power while staying true to its culture; Elizabeth Bear's Sonny Liston Takes the Fall, a poignant tale about the life, death and sad legacy of the troubled heavyweight fighter; and Pat Cadigan's Jimmy, a strange and supernatural coming-of-age story set in the moments just after John F. Kennedy's assassination. The thematic diversity and consistently high quality of narrative throughout make for a solid and enjoyable anthology.

Sum3: The 2006 Zircon Anthology of Speculative Romance - A secret agent investigating murders of an extraterrestrial origin. A desperate guardian of a people's last hope. A rebellious lady artist in the English countryside. A farmer's boy. A college professor. An assassin. What do all these people have in common? They're all going to fall in love...with someone, somewhere, somewhen. And falling in love can change the world.

Wilde Stories 2008: The Best of the Year's Gay Speculative Fiction - As such literary movements as interstitial and slipstream gain momentum, more and more authors interweave their traditional stories with gay themes as coming out, homophobia, and self-as-other, with a bit of the strange and weird. Named after one of the founding fathers of gay speculative fiction, Wilde Stories is a new annual anthology that offers readers the best of such stories from the prior year. Editor Steve Berman, a finalist for both the Lambda Literary and Andre Norton Awards, has collected an engaging selection of the fantastical, the strange, and the scary from such notable authors as Victor J. Banis, Hal Duncan and Lee Thomas.

Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy

Tesseracts Eleven: Amazing Canadian Speculative Fiction

Wyrd Wravings: An Anthology of Humorous Speculative Fiction

Obliquity: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest

Agog! Terrific Tales : New Australian Speculative Fiction

Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction

Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction

The short story form cannot be claimed exclusively by academics (I've read that some people actually think this way). Spec fic short stories can and should be written by anyone who wants to tell a tale of the fantastic. Every story need not be impregnated by agenda, be it a literary slant or nationalist agenda. Each story need not be imbued with gravity or be a vessel for national transformation. These things are for each individual author to decide upon, based on their aims, philosophies or poetics - and for the critics to parse. Stories can be light and humorous, entertaining reads (yes, we should disempower the negative connotations cast upon the term "entertainment" as well).

For we working writers, what is non-negotiable is that our speculative fiction must tell a story in the best way we can, engage the reader and open a door into the fantastic.

And that we keep on writing.