Friday, December 28, 2007

Kuting Workshop

From The Sumatra Woman's Brew:

The workshop shall be held on January 12, 2008, at Room 204, College of Education, Benitez Hall at U.P. Diliman. Workshop Fee: Php1,000.

For details, pls. contact AGAY (09178116961) or ZARAH (09209602884) or email them at the ff. addresses:zarah.gagatiga(at)gmail(dot)com / allanera(at)yahoo(dot)com.

For more details on activities and resource speakers, click here.

Booktopia PGS Holiday Issue Review

Many thanks to Rowena Dimaguila of Booktopia for this quick review of the PGS Holiday Issue. She mentions "The Magic Christmas Box" and "Twilight Of The Magi" as her favorites from the issue. Thank you very much to Booktopia for all the support!

Incidentally, Booktopia has a sale until January 15, 2008. Their address is here. Head on over and get good deals on their merchandise. I bought some well-received gifts there a few days before Christmas, and I'm sure you'll be able to find whatever it is you're looking for on their shelves.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Despite my best efforts each year, I can't stop Christmas from coming.

This morning, the day after Christmas, I opened my copy of The Philippine Star and turned to a page with a large picture of The Grinch, which accompanied the column of Palanca winner Exie Abola (I wrote about Exie here in early November). His column, "Thus Spake The Grinch", sounded just like the kind of thing this particular Grinch could get into, especially on what is known in western countries as Boxing Day. And for the first half of the column, it was.

And then...

...the author--who I thought was a fellow Grinch--goes and lets holes appear in the roof of his cave, letting shafts of sunlight in.

So pardon me while I head on over to his blog and try to patch the holes before any lasting damage is done. :)

*I do like the fact that it's raining today. Gives me another thing to complain about. Tralalala...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Announcements (Updated Again)

In a continuing stream of good news regarding PGS contributors getting published abroad, Crystal Koo (author of "The Scent Of Spice" from PGS2) has a new story up at Rubric, one of the literary journals of The University Of New South Wales (the other is Unsweetened). The title of her story is "The Twilight Express". I've downloaded the pdf file and taken a quick look; though I haven't read it yet, it seems to be an epistolary. Head on over and download her piece to give it a read. Congratulations, Crystal!

Congratulations too to MRR Arcega, PGS contributor of "The Magic Christmas Box" for PGS's Special Holiday Issue. Her story, "Spaceman", is in the December 24, 2007 issue of The Philippine Graphic. She actually has three stories out this month, one in PGS, another in Philippine Speculative Fiction III, and the third in The Philippine Graphic.

Updates: Two other PGS contributors, Sharmaine Galve, author of "Y" from PGS3, and Apol Lejano-Massebieau, who has a story coming in PGS4, are included in the anthology of Vicente Garcia Groyon, Very Short Stories For Harried Readers. Pinoy flash fiction at its best.

Congratulations, all!

Keep on writing and sending out your work, everyone!

New Update: Chiles Samaniego emailed me on Christmas Eve--but I didn't have time to post about it till now--that he has some new posts up as a guest blogger. Check 'em out here and here. This is an update from my previous entry about him here. He talks about the Pinoy background of the fantastic, of how rich our mythology is. Click on the links above to to read what he has to say.

Thanks Again To The Pinoy Penman

Sir Butch Dalisay has once more written about PGS and of the success of some of the contributors. In his latest Philippine Star column, On Literature's Frontier, he mentions those who have succeeded this year in getting their work accepted in foreign publications. He also congratulates those who did well at the recent 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. Thanks again, Sir Butch! Feel free to drop him a positive comment on his blog and greet him for the holidays! I'm sure he'll appreciate any warm greetings from PGS readers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Special Holiday Issue

Now Available!

An excerpt from Noche Buena, by Andrew Drilon:
A man came out of the convenience store and offered her a fresh towel. He was dressed in a yellow sleeveless shirt, basketball shorts and red rubber shoes. "Thank you," Fiesta Ham said. "Where did you get this?" The man pointed to his duffel bag. "Was on my way to the gym myself." Fiesta Ham smiled, thanked him again, and asked his name.

"Quezo," he said, grinning. "Quezo de Bola."

An excerpt from The Off-Season, by Michael Co:
Before I could get up, he threw the hood over my head. It didn't smell too good. The fabric had been soaked in some kind of chemical and my nose was on fire and I think I bit my lip because I could taste something metallic. He stretched the hood against my face. I reached out behind me, seeking him out, my fingers like claws. He tightened the hood around my neck and shook me violently but I was unwilling to give up easily. That's when he struck my kidney with his knee and the force of the blow took the will out of me and I think I yelled, "Inay ko po!"

An excerpt from The Magic Christmas Box, by MRR Arcega:
"This box can take you to that year's Christmas," the old man said, sounding completely convinced of what he was saying. "You can live this day over, as many years as you want."

The boy stared at the old man. The old man stared back. The boy was quite sure the old man wasn't insane, because he'd seen insane and it was nothing like this.

An excerpt from Jumpercable: The Crossing, by Erica Gonzales:
"Your dimension is incredibly slow about things, you know...considering that the Great Interdimensional Crossing happened in your timeline, it's hard for me to understand why your people still believe in the folk tales about it, when the rest of the dimensions hold that moment in such awe..."

An excerpt from Twilight of the Magi, by Dominique Cimafranca:
The Persian halted his camel a respectful distance and dismounted. He was careful to keep his empty hands in plain sight at all times. He walked towards the Ethiopian, shouting out a friendly greeting:

"Hail, stranger, and well met!"

The Ethiopian emerged from his tent and stood up to his full height. He was six cubits tall and dressed in animal skins. His golden smile reflected the sun.

"Hail to you, too, stranger," said the Ethiopian. From his belt, he drew a gigantic scimitar. "But well met? That we shall see."

Update On Andre

Got this email from Ma. Aileen M. Ramon last night:

To everyone,

It is with a heavy heart that I come to you again only to report that Andre may not be able to make it.

These past few days have been horrible for all of us. Regardless of the constant and strict supervision from the doctors as well as the various actions taken in order to stabilize his condition, it would appear that Andre's body is at its peak of giving out.

I do want to ask everyone's forgiveness for delivering this terrible news given the holidays is nearly upon us, but we feel that the only facet remaining for us is to hope and pray for nothing short of a miracle. In any case, whatever happens please bear in mind that Andre where ever he may be, will always love and cherish the friendship he had shared with each and everyone of you.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Yours truly,

Ma. Aileen M. Ramon (mmedinaramon(at)aol(dot)com)"

This is horrible news. Please spare some time to give Andre and the Medina family your thoughts and well-wishes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weird Tales - Sep/Oct 2008

The PGS contributor I hinted at here has given me permission to reveal his identity. It's chiles samaniego, author of "The Saint of Elsewhere" from PGS2, who is coming out in the Sep/Oct 2008 issue of Weird Tales with his story, "Time and the Orpheus". Sorry about assuming that his story was coming out early next year; it seems we'll have to wait till next year's -ber months. Which might be a good thing, actually, 'coz it'll give us time to subscribe to the magazine. I'm not sure if they're going to publish his story online.

In addition, chiles is also guest blogging over at Ecstatic Days, the site of author Jeff Vandermeer, by invitation of Jeff's wife, Ann. Ann is the fiction editor of Weird Tales. Congratulations, chiles!

Weird Tales is one of those pulp/genre magazines that's been around for a really long time (I have old, old, old issues boxed somewhere). Believe it or not, it's been in publication since 1923. It's known as the magazine that published the stories of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, making the author quite popular. "The Call of Cthulhu" was first printed in Weird Tales. Other famous genre writers who have written tales that have found their way into the mag's pages are Robert E. Howard (of Conan the Barbarian fame), Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Clarke Ashton Smith. This was when pulp was at its height in America, and Weird Tales was one of the major proponents of genre fiction.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unsolved Mysteries On TV

My wife and I really enjoy Cold Case, a mystery/crime/detective show on the Crime/Suspense channel on Skycable. Sadly, our enjoyment will cease come January 1, 2008, because for whatever reason, Skycable will no longer carry this channel. All I can say is: @#$%^&!

My favorite crime show is still The Sopranos, but Cold Case (and of course, CSI in the recent past, and Law and Order up to today) has taken up some of my sparse TV time. Because I prefer to read, I don't watch much TV, and to my wife's happiness I have surrendered the remote control to her (maybe that's why she married me, though when there's live tennis on the sports stations I do fight her for it), but Cold Case has really grabbed me. I'll enjoy it while I can. I'm going to miss it when it's gone. I can always pick up a good mystery to read, after all.

(I'll make a formal announcement soon for the PGS Holiday Issue :D, though it seems The Bibliophile Stalker has beaten me to it).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Manila City Hall, From The Air

In a forum I frequent, there's a thread that talks about haunted places in Metro Manila (again we see here the Pinoy affinity for ghost stories). The discussion circled around the less well-known and supposedly haunted locations in our metropolis. Mentioned were this old house along Roxas Boulevard/Coastal Road, various schools that used to be clinics, The Heritage Hotel (formerly the Regent of Manila), UP Diliman's College of Education, and dilapidated, gargoyle-guarded domiciles deep in tree-lined New Manila.

Someone wrote that he had heard somewhere that Manila City Hall looks like a coffin from the air. Writer and Palanca winner Maryanne Moll, a Super Moderator for the forum, cleverly looked it up on Google, and discovered that it was true! The city hall of our nation's capital does look like a coffin! Mary Anne says it still has to be verified, but she read on another site that when the structure was rebuilt after the bombing during World War II, the architect deliberately designed it that way to serve as a symbolic coffin for all those who died there.

Real life can be stranger than fiction! Fiction though has an added burden of having to work and make sense.

If I may paraphrase my favorite quote from one of the forum's members: "(From all the stories going around), there are enough white ladies (in the Philippines) to form a cheering squad."

Update: Maryanne PM'd me this additional info:

"In my post I have provided a link to the Pinoy Tambayan site where I got the info, but you should be logged in to view anything there, which is why I had to paraphrase in my post what I read in the Pinoy Tambayan thread. In fact, I registered in Pinoy Tambayan just to be able to see the posts about the City Hall that showed up in Google! I suggest you sign up, too, because it's an 8-page thread, and people who actually work at the City Hall have contributed to the discussion.

That would be a fabulous blog entry, of course. Creepy talaga, no?"

She also provided a site that shows other weird stuff found on Google maps.

Thanks, Maryanne!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


We can expect another PGS contributor and Pinoy writer to have a story out early next year on Weird Tales, a US based magazine with the mission of publishing "brilliantly strange material that can't be found elsewhere." This contributor won't let me reveal his identity yet because he can't believe that his work's been accepted and published until he actually sees the evidence for himself, staring right back at him (I can understand the feeling). But he has at least allowed me to mention the publication where his story is coming out. As soon as his story's up I'll post about it here on the PGS blog. Congratulations! If you're reading this, let me know right away when your tale is up!

And remember, Nikki Alfar's story on Fantasy Magazine is due out soon!

That adds another Pinoy writer to the list of folk who've been getting their stories out and published internationally! I'm so happy that PGS contributors and friends have kept on writing and hammering away at other markets, locally and abroad, and I'm happy that PGS carries some of their work. Hooray!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Update On Andre

I received another email from Ma. Aileen M. Ramon about Andre Medina:
"To the dearest friends of Andre,

Good day to all of you.

The Medina family would like to once more express our deepest gratitude to everyone who have shown such generosity and support towards Andre's unfortunate accident. We were so overwhelmed by the messages we receive everyday as well as the people who would come and visit. It was not to our knowledge that my brother had so many loving friends. In some ways, it helps us as well to cope through this crisis

As for my brother, I am sorry to say that his condition has gone from bad to worse. His organs are failing him due apparently to the trauma. So far, the additional instruments along with an increase to his medication are able to help him be in a much more controlled status. So far, all the doctors can give us is the assurance that as long nothing else happens, they can isolate the problem and hopefully "guide" Andre's body into recovery. I do apologize for the unfortunate news and that if it seems I am being too melodramatic even for my own good. Honestly the pressure and fear has taken its toll on all of us here. But nonetheless, we know that we need to be strong for Andre and remain in faith that this is just one last obstacle to cross. Personally, I take solace in knowing that Andre can very be stubborn and head-strong at times to believe that something like this would not stop him from living his life...which from what I have seen from all of you, his friends, is nothing short of an amazing...funny even at times but an exciting and fruitful one. There is a song, Feelin' Alright, which I had noticed Andre's been in frequency to listening whenever he seemed down and out. This is the same song that gets some sort of reaction whenever we play it next to him. Seeing how uncertain things are, I just feel like sharing this to all of least as a reminder that things will get better. And that Andre in his own high-fidelity-geeky way, is going to listen to this song even more in the years to come. We will continue to read your letters to him everyday. I am sure that as soon as he's up and ready, he would wish to speak or at least write to each and everyone of you. Again, thank you to all and we do hope to hear from you some more as my brother goes through his healing process. God Bless all of you. Sincerely yours, Ma. Aileen M. Ramon (mmedinaramon(at)aol(dot)com)"

Those of you who know Andre, who've met him briefly, or maybe even those of you who don't know him, please do drop a line of encouragement at the above email address. To repeat, Andre is the artist who has done the covers for PGS1, 2, and 3. I'm sure he'd like to hear from you. Based on the emails, I believe he can still sense what is being read to him, and that can only help in his recovery. Much thanks.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Golden Compass, From Two Who've Seen It

Chiles Samaniego has sent in another link, Compass Points: Catholic and atheist, from the BBC news website. He sent it in after reading the post here. It's an article on The Golden Compass movie, with two short reviews, one from a Catholic reviewer, the other from an atheist. Neither are glowing, but I respect their opinions a bit more than the opinions of all those others who were saying a lot of things about the movie weeks before it was even released. A quote I like from the article:

"Clearly, the Magisterium is meant to represent the Catholic church, but I think the Catholic League in America are really overstepping the mark.

There's no need to call for any boycott of it.

The whole thing is about polar bears - it's nothing to do with the Magisterium.

I'd be far more offended if I was a polar bear. The polar bears are ludicrously portrayed - I don't empathise with them at all."

Geeks Are Evil Podcast

The December 6, 2007 podcast of Geeks Are Evil by Anansi Girl is up. Interviewee is Joseph Nacino, winner of the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards for prose. Also in the podcast are PGS contributors Mia Tijam and Charles Tan. Joseph is also going to be interviewed on ANC with the other top winner from the Awards, Andrew Drilon, at 9:30 a.m. later today.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Romance Genre According To M&B

I received an email from Chiles Samaniego (contributor of The Saint Of Elsewhere from PGS2). He sent me a link about Mills & Boon, that line of books that focuses on romance. It might be an interesting read for those of you who want to know more about the romance genre. Mills & Boon: 100 Years Of Heaven Or Hell? The article shows the viewpoints of someone who loves the line, and someone who doesn't.

Here's a quote from the "love" side:

"The women who populate these books come from as disparate and wide-ranging economic situations as the women who read them. To say they are all mindless romantic illiterates yearning to be saved is lazy ignorance."

And here's a quote from the "not" side:

"Challenging the low conviction rate for rape certainly seems more urgent than trashing novels that perpetuate gender stereotypes, but there is no doubt that such novels feed directly into some women's sense of themselves as lesser beings, as creatures desperate to be dominated."

Coming from a family with one strong lady (my mother--the rest of us are guys), and being married to another strong lady, who also happens to have five sisters who are also no shrinking violets, I believe I am now, at nearly forty-years old, experienced enough not to say anything disparaging about females (at the risk of getting physically hurt, along with a slew of other kinds of hurt).

So nothing from me about Mills & Boon, because my knee-jerk male reaction belongs in the "not" side. So I'm reining my thoughts in because, well, those books sell, those stories sell, so they must be hitting a nerve with a certain segment of readers. But I really have no right to say anything because I have no experience reading any of their titles. Can't really criticize what you don't know anything about, right? (Like I said here, you can't criticize The Golden Compass movie till you've seen it).

After reading the above link, I asked my wife what she thought of the Mills & Boon line.

"It's like 'comfort food,'" she said.


"You know, brainless reading. I read them in high school. Even in college."


"Yes. Why?"

"Um, nothing," I said quickly, sotto voice. "Go on."

"I read them in high school. Even read them inbetween tests during the bar exams," she said. "Stress release."

" like them?"

"They're formulaic, and present an overly-romanticized impression of the male-female relationship. But they're nice to just read with a shut-down brain. Mindless reading. Fun, even if you know where it's going, what's going to happen, how it'll end, what all the characters' personalities are like..."


"Why? Do you have a Mills & Boon type submission for PGS? Or are you trying to write a romance ala Mills & Boon?"

"I've never read one of their books, so I wouldn't know if a submission was like their stories or not. And I'm not sure I could write something like that. I mean, when I get to the kissy-kissy scenes, I wouldn't know if what I'm going to write is romance, erotica, or outright porn."

"Knowing you, it's going to be porn."

"Ha ha. Funny. Really. It-is-to-laugh. Porn sells, you know."

"To brainless males like you."

"Just like your Mills & Boon, it's stress release."


Thanks for the link, Chiles!

An Essay On Magical Realism

"Magic Realism Defies Genres" is the title of an essay written by Neil Ayres, editor of Serendipity, an online magazine devoted to magical realism and contemporary light fantasy. His essay is online at The Man Booker Prize website.

(Serendipity is the site where K. Aton-Osias's story, The River Stone Heart Of Maria Dela Rosa, is published, as was announced here last November.)

The essay tries to address issues such as "magical realism is simply fantasy written in Spanish", and ponders why it sits happily with literary judges while other genres don't. He mentions authors like M. John Harrison, Jeff Vandermeer, Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, and many others while expounding on his thoughts. He talks about why he finds "realism at odds with a good story", and how novels like The Kite Runner are "undermined by their reliance on contrivance of situation". He wonders too why Gulliver's Travels isn't on the Science Fiction and Fantasy shelves of bookstores.

The essay won't take long to read. Check it out.

Joseph Nacino and Andrew Drilon on ANC Redux

Their last interview, as announced here, was postponed. But I got a text from Andrew just now:

"It looks like the ANC interview will be tomorrow, 9:30 a.m."

So there, Dec. 7, 2007, 9:30 a.m. on ANC (that's Channel 27 for Skycable subscribers). Hope you can find the time to watch.

NBS Warehouse Sale

Received this in the inbox from my sister-in-law. Am copying and pasting it as is:

Here's an end-of-year event you wouldn't dare miss!
Get big, big discounts on your favorite books at the
NBS Warehouse Sale!
Don't miss this great opportunity on Dec. 7¡V9 and 14¡V16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at West Capitol Drive, Bgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City , near the JRS Express Warehouse.
For inquiries, please contact May Robias at 490-1163.

I think the "Dec. 7 iV9 and 14iV16" should read "Dec. 7-9 and 14-16". There's a name and number above to call and clarify. Happy book-hunting, people!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Writer-Professors Villanueva, Atienza

"Philippine arts and letters lost two stalwarts on Wednesday with the deaths Rene Villanueva and Monico Atienza, both writers and professors."

From the Inquirer article here. The ABS-CBN news article here.


Lots of book and literature-related events planned for Dec. 8, 2007. In addition to the aforementioned launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction III, there are all of these events also scheduled on the same day. Thanks to Kristin Mandigma, for compiling the list and posting it on the Read Or Die website.

Philippine Speculative Fiction III

(This is a photo of the actual book. I apologize for the poor shot. I just placed the book on a pillow and took a picture of it from above with my small digicam).

Philippine Speculative Fiction III, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar, will be launched at 4 p.m. on December 8, 2007, at Fully Booked Serendra. More details here. Everyone's invited. Get your copy then so you can meet the authors and editors and have them sign it.

The Golden Compass Movie

People are up in arms and angry at the coming movie, The Golden Compass, based on the book Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Most of these people are from Christian groups, since they see the film as an atheist manifesto disguised as a children's tale. Philip Pullman has admitted in interviews to leaning to an atheist or agnostic mindset in his personal life.

I'm reminded of the brouhaha generated by the Harry Potter books and movies, when similar objections were brought against them because of the prevalence of witchcraft in the stories.

I'm also reminded of the time Philippine clergy told people not to watch the movie Live Show because for them it was outright porn, and thus, damaging to morals.

In these past instances, I found out for myself that many of those criticizing these movies and books had not yet seen or read them.

The Golden Compass is due out on December 6, 2007. What say we watch the movie for ourselves first and then make up our own minds? The book has been out for some time now, so there's time to pick it up and read through it before forming an opinion about it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Addressing The Decline In English Proficiency

"President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up with a host of ‘intervention measures’ aimed at upgrading English instruction in public elementary and high schools nationwide."

"To help address these issues, the DepEd is carrying out the "Every Child a Reader Program" or ECARP.

Under this scheme, "a comprehensive reading assessment is done at all the grade levels through the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory in English and Filipino. Results of this assessment are then used as basis for specific reading programs initiated at the regional and division school levels," explained Lapus.

The DepEd will continue holding its national "Read-a-Thon" contest, which offers cash prizes to students who emerge best in story telling, oral interpretation and vocabulary, as well as outstanding reading teachers.

Other initiatives to improve students' reading comprehension include the establishment of library hubs and book donations by the private sector and local government units.

"We have directed schools nationwide to beef up their libraries and implement various reading strategies to instill among students love for reading at an early age," said Lapus."

Full article here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bloghopping Find

Over at The Zeppelin's Mezzanine (or his Multiply, The Flying Teapot) I came upon this blogpost, Insult to Injury: the Death of Pinoy Lit. Strongly worded post, and thought-provoking, borne of Sir Butch Dalisay's past two columns mentioned here and here. Some quotes:

"The focus on language is a killer. This is, I think, a sickness that almost every Pinoy writer, with the possible exception of Bob Ong and Pol Medina Jr., is infected with."

"There's a surprisingly vivid lack of content in Pinoy writing, so much so that it actually kinda looks like a gigantic bruise pulsating in the midst of the torso that is Pinoy literature."

"I think the biggest thing people have forgotten about literature - both readers and writers alike - is the fact that the very first function of any media is to entertain, because once you have captured your audience's fancy, you can begin to draw him into the meatier parts of your tale. Otherwise, your story is a failure. It is made of win and awesome, but a failure nonetheless."

"Writers often forget the beneficial properties a good marketing edge can do for their works. And I'm not just talking locally."

Head on over and spend some time reading the post. Like I said, it's very thought-provoking. I'm also glad that despite the post's harsh tone (especially against Sir Butch), nothing further came of it, and I attribute that to the graciousness and openness of the author of Soledad's Sister.

Update On Andre

For Andre's PGS friends, here's an update on his condition (as was first posted here):

We would like to give our warmest thanks to those who have responded to our message. May the Lord bless your kind and generous souls.

Andre hasn't yet woken but we're still grateful that there wasn't any other serious complications to his condition. Hopefully as his doctors put it, his body is just recuperating and soon he'll be up and ready for the next step of healing.

In the meantime, we continue to read him your letters in hope that it would help him gain strength and inspiration to fight his way back.

Again, we thank you so much and know that we appreciate so much the support you've given us.

God Bless all of you.

Ma. Aileen M. Ramon (mmedinaramon(at)aol(dot)com)

You can still email the above address if you want to send Andre your well-wishes.

Joseph Nacino and Andrew Drilon on ANC

Andrew Drilon blogs about how he and Joseph Nacino, the two top winners of the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, will be interviewed on ANC on Dec. 3, 2007, from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. I know the time is awkward, being in the middle of work and school hours, but watch if you can.

Update: Andrew just texted me that the interview has been moved. Keep posted to his blog to find out when the interview will be held. I'll update here too when I find out. Thanks.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More On Novel Writing From Sir Butch

In a brief follow up to what he wrote about novel writing last week (which was mentioned here), sir Butch Dalisay continues his ruminations in "This Writerly Thread" on his blog, and in his Philippine Star column, Penman, for December 3, 2007.

Here's a quote:

"...we’re not writing about the things that might prove interesting to our potential readers; we wouldn’t mind being popular, but we shun the popular. The crimes that pepper our tabloids hardly ever make it to our fiction. Clearly, we need to write more popular or genre fiction—novels that employ not only the fantastic, but also more crime, more sex, and more humor. They may not necessarily be great novels, but good ones—novels that can attract and develop a new class of readers, be serialized, be turned into movies, be talked about over Monday-morning coffee."

He follows this with some announcements, including details for events on December 8, 2007, and a writing workshop in April 2008 that's open to applications. Please do check out his blog for the full entry.

Indian Science Fiction

Received this link in the email from Palanca winner and National Book Award nominee Luis Katigbak: Udankhatola Redux. It's an article on Indian science fiction, its history, and its growing popularity in that country. Here're some interesting quotes from said article:

"DNA-ALTERING experiments, moody robots, strange mutations from failed cloning projects, wonder machines and nano-gadgetry, and, of course, aliens playing peek-a-boo with humans — science fiction writing in Indian languages has this all and more. And its popularity is growing steadily, especially in the eastern and southern regions of the country. Most science fiction (SF) writing in regional languages is in the form of serialised stories in magazines, but novels and short stories are also gaining popularity. Says Dinesh Goswamy, the well-known Assamese SF writer, 'SF is very popular in our state. During Durga Pooja, magazines bring out special SF issues.'"

"Another indicator of SF’s popularity in the south is the Mysore based IASFS which organises annual conferences to popularise the kannadasahitya. com have also helped. 'South Indians have a very academic and developed sort of orientation,' concedes Kar. What is it about regional language SF that makes it distinct from its mainstream Western counterpart? The Assamese writer Shakeel Jamal has penned two novels Neela Neela Vedana, a romance in which genetic engineering plays a major role, and Silikonor Buddha, which is about artificial intelligence. He feels that the local flavour in his novels is very important, much more so than the SF jargon. “The Indian reader is biased against hardcore SF,” he says. 'The Western reader wants to learn. We don’t.'"

"'Western SF deals more with fantasy. It is difficult to compare the two,' says the Kannada SF writer Santosh Kumar Mahendale. Srinarahari points out that unlike Western alien invasion stories, Indian writers never let extra-terrestrials take over planet earth. He feels that contemporary American and British SF is actually modelled to editors’ specifications, whereas Indian authors have all the freedom they want. 'Each [regional] language is an ion and not an atom,' he says, and goes on to explain that, 'there is no unification in the Indian thought.'"

Indian SF also often comes with a moral message. 'It should have a social purpose,' says Srinarahari. 'If a writer is speaking of an imaginary world or change in his environ, how can he cope with it? Reading about it will educate a person.' Deshpande agrees. 'There has to be a mission,' he says."

An interesting read. How does the Indian situation compare with the Philippines'? Ideas, anyone?