Friday, October 29, 2010

100 Aspects of Genre: Learning from the Dead and the Dying

Here's a very interesting blog entry, 100 Aspects Of Genre: Learning From The Dead And The Dying. It talks about the social stimuli that drives certain genres, looking at those that have come and gone and those still existing today. An excerpt:

In thinking about genre, the thing I struggle with the most is that it doesn’t exist. Genre can’t exist within any given project or any given author. To the degree that it’s anything at all, it’s a relationship between individual projects, individual authors, and individual books. When I say China Mieville is New Weird rather than Urban Fantasy, I’m not actually saying anything about Perdido Street Station or The City & the City as books. I’m talking about a taxonomy that exists entirely in my head (and the heads of the fine marketing folks at the publishers and bookstores who want to make sure I’m happy with my purchase).

What we really have is a huge count of individual books, all different from each other, but with some sharing certain characteristics. Most of these books fall into the marketplace like a stone in the ocean, barely leaving a ripple. A few bec0me massive cultural phenomena — often for no obvious reason. But then there’s this bit in between. When we look at the patterns of what achieves commercial success, we see pools of books that seem related. These authors are working on similar projects, and the percentages of successful books with similar characteristics is high. So, for instance, books with a female protagonist, a plot that revolves around heterosexual romance , a resolution that relies on the successful love relationship being formed between the protagonist and the object of her desire, and with a theme or moral that argues that romantic love will conquer all obstacles appear more likely to find commercial success than some other books with different characteristics.

Those sets of “winning” attributes begin to define a genre. Romance for that, but we could build a different set of attributes for fantasy or mystery or whatever.


Evolution is often misunderstood as a continual process of refinement toward excellence. It isn’t. It is a desperate, generational struggle to adapt to a changing environment. An organism that was the top predator at a pH of 6.8 may be free biomass for other organisms to eat and use at a pH of 6. The relationship between organisms and their environment (and so also with other organisms) is in constant flux, and a winning strategy in the Pleistocene may or may not be a winning strategy now. Species flourish, and become extinct. Ecological niches open, and they also close.

And so it is with genres.

I think that the successful genres of a particular period are reflections of the needs and thoughts and social struggles of that time. When you see a bunch of similar projects meeting with success, you’ve found a place in the social landscape where a particular story (or moral or scenario) speaks to readers. You’ve found a place where the things that stories offer are most needed.

And since the thing that stories most often offer is comfort, you’ve found someplace rich with anxiety and uncertainty. (That’s what I meant when I said to Melinda Snodgrass that genre is where fears pool.)

But what we’re anxious about changes over time, and it doesn’t always change back. If I’m right, then I’d expect to see new genres being born as books struggle to address the landscape of the time. And also dead genres whose stories spoke to a moment that has in some way passed. And that’s exactly what I see.

The problem I’m sitting with right now is that I have some sense of what function present genres have.

A Bloggers' Code Of Ethics

Just sharing this: A Bloggers' Code Of Ethics. An excerpt:

Some bloggers recently have been debating what, if any, ethics the Weblog community should follow. Since not all bloggers are journalists and the Weblog form is more casual, they argue they shouldn't be expected to follow the same ethics codes journalists are. But responsible bloggers should recognize that they are publishing words publicly, and therefore have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general. has created a model Bloggers' Code of Ethics, by modifying the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics for the Weblog world. These are just guidelines -- in the end it is up to individual bloggers to choose their own best practices. follows this code and urges other Weblogs to adopt this one or similar practices.

Integrity is the cornerstone of credibility. Bloggers who adopt this code of principles and these standards of practice not only practice ethical publishing, but convey to their readers that they can be trusted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do Writers Need Paper?

Again, via PGS contributor Erica Gonzales: Do Writers Need Paper? An excerpt:

As the sales of e-books finally start to soar, what effect will this digital revolution have on publishers, readers and writers? Will the novel as we know it survive?

The author Lionel Shriver is someone, she tells me, who enjoys “a conventional authorial life: I get advances sufficient to support me financially; I release my books through traditional publishing houses and write for established newspapers and magazines.” But Shriver, who won the 2005 Orange prize for her eighth novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, is also keeping an increasingly uneasy eye on the situation of 21st-century authors. For a start, there’s the worry that if “electronic publishing takes off in a destructive manner… the kind of fruitful professional life I lead could be consigned to the past.” Then there’s her own reading life, an essential part of the creative process, to consider: “I am personally dependent on the old-fashioned, hierarchical vetting of newspapers and book publishers to locate reading material that’s worth my time. I don’t want to wade through a sea of undifferentiated voices to find articles whose facts are accurate and novels that are carefully crafted and have something to say.”

The tyranny of choice is a near-universal digital lament. But for literary authors, at least, what comes with the territory is an especially barbed species of uncertainty. Take the award-winning novelist and poet Blake Morrison, perhaps best-known for his memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? “I try to be positive about new technology,” he told me, “but I worry about what’s going to happen to poetry books and literary novels once e-readers have taken over from print. Will they survive the digital revolution? Or will the craving for interactivity drive them to extinction? I’ve not written anything for a year, and part of the reason may be a loss of confidence about the future of literary culture as I’ve known it.”

I’ve spent the last few months talking to authors, publishers and agents about the future, and it’s clear that Morrison’s feelings are far from unusual. After a number of false dawns, books are, finally, starting to go digital. In July, Amazon US reported that its e-book sales overtook sales of hardbacks on its website for the first time. E-books now account for at least 6 per cent of the total American market, a number that’s sure to rise steeply thanks to the huge success of both dedicated e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and multipurpose hardware like Apple’s iPad, which is currently selling a million units a month. What this means for publishers, readers and writers is the transformation not only of the context within which books exist, but also of what books can and cannot say—and who will read them.

Above all, the translation of books into digital formats means the destruction of boundaries. Bound, printed texts are discrete objects: immutable, individual, lendable, cut off from the world. Once the words of a book appear onscreen, they are no longer simply themselves; they have become a part of something else. They now occupy the same space not only as every other digital text, but as every other medium too. Music, film, newspapers, blogs, videogames—it’s the nature of a digital society that all these come at us in parallel, through the same channels, consumed simultaneously or in seamless sequence.

There are new possibilities in this, many of them marvellous. As the internet has amply illustrated, words shorn of physical restrictions can instantly travel the world and be searched, shared, adapted and updated at will. Yet when it comes to words that aim to convey more than information and opinions, and to books in particular, a paradoxical process of constriction is also taking place. For alongside what Morrison calls “the craving for interactivity,” a new economic and cultural structure is arriving that has the power to dismantle many of those roles great written works have long played: as critiques, inspirations, consciences, entertainments, educations, acts of witness and awakening, and much more.

The digitisation of the reading experience itself is the least radical aspect of this process. Although a minority of titles offer sounds and images, most e-books ape their paper counterparts. Even on an advanced device like the iPad, the best reading applications emphasise clarity and clutter-free text. What’s truly new is the shift in power that the emerging order represents.

The arguments being made for the indispensability of the traditional publishing model centre on two factors: advances and expertise. The established publishing system of paying advances against royalties enables writers, it’s said, to take the time to write and research works of proper depth and quality. The expertise gathered within established publishing companies, meanwhile, is an invaluable resource both for sifting through slush piles and for improving everything from a book’s structure and style to its grammar, presentation and accuracy—and subsequently its packaging, marketing and distribution.

Leaving aside the likelihood that this expertise will simply migrate to new media companies, this account neglects digital culture’s single most transforming force: data. Buy an electronic book and the exact details of that purchase are instantly known: exactly how much was paid, and when, and how, and in combination with which other products. What are the trends, the sudden sparks of interest, the opportunities? Which chapter held people’s attention for longest; at what point did most readers give up? Answering exactly these kinds of questions lies at the heart of the businesses that players like Amazon, Google and Apple have built over the last decade. And these three companies already overwhelmingly dominate the world’s digital publishing transactions.

It has long been a truth of publishing that—much as in movies—a small number of hits generate the bulk of revenues, allowing producers to take a punt on future productions. What, though, if there were no longer any need to gamble on success? Book publishing is based on the principle that publishers control access to a scarce, precious resource—print. But digital media models, where the costs of publication and reproduction are almost nothing, tend to function the other way around: material is first published, then the selection process begins among readers themselves.

For all the weight attached to traditional models of discernment, it’s hard not to see a logic that’s already well-established in other fields gaining ground: put as much material as you can in front of an audience, and let them do the selecting for you. Then—when your best hope of a hit appears—maximise it relentlessly.

After all, digital culture is one vast forum for debate, selection, promotion and distribution. As Angus Donald—whose writing career began in 2009 with the publication of Outlaw, the first in a series of novels about Robin Hood (the second, Holy Warrior, appeared this July)—described the experience of becoming a writer to me: “I find myself as a sort of president of a club of like-minded individuals. I’m matey, elder-brotherly and in regular contact with anyone who wants to communicate with me. I write a blog on a weekly basis, I have two Facebook pages for my books and I go to pretty much any events that invite me… ”

Donald has embraced technology, but there are plenty of authors who take a dimmer view. “When it comes to the world of the internet and blogging and Facebooking and what have you, I’m profoundly sceptical,” Philip Pullman, author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy, told me. “I daresay it manages to connect with a large number of people, but I strongly resent the time it takes up. In the little time that I have ‘spare,’ I don’t want to sit tapping at a keyboard and staring at a screen, I want to read and think.”


Via PGS contributor Erica Gonzales: is now live. An excerpt from the blog entry:

Here’s a problem that we, People of the Internet, should solve: The web is not yet organized in a way that recognizes that there is more than one type of text-based web content. There’s quick, snackable stuff, formulated for 5-minute scanning between checking your email and getting some real work done. But then there’s the long, in-depth content better suited for the couch, the commute, or the airplane. Most sites jumble these two types of stories together. When I click a headline at, I can never tell whether I’m going to get a 200-word blog post or a 10,000-word epic. At work, I want the former; at home, the latter. But my browser doesn’t care. Graydon, you would never ask me to read the Vanity Fair cover story standing at the newsstand. Yet that’s precisely what and others do.

Now that I have the ability to “read later,” I will. It’s time for publishers to start recognizing this need for “time and place”-specific content. I humbly offer up “Longreads” as the tag by which we, The Internet, will understand when content is meant not just for scanning but for reading, savoring and digesting.

Can’t we all see where this is going? The online world no longer needs to be 500-words-or-less. Instead of killing long-form journalism, the internet can help save it.

Now that we have a time, a place, and a format where the best journalism in the world can thrive online, the appetite for it is obvious. It’s on the iPhone, iPad and Kindle. It’s on apps like Instapaper, where you can read offline and on your own terms. And it’s from writers and reporters who can expand our worldview and move us to tears — or better yet, action — in 7,000 words.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Academic: Jane Austen Had Helping Hand From Editor

An Oxford University English professor believes that writer Jane Austen--contrary to what her brother, Henry, said, that "everything came finished from her pen"--had editing help from her editor, William Gifford. An excerpt from the article:

She's renowned for her precise, exquisite prose, but new research shows Jane Austen was a poor speller and erratic grammarian who got a big helping hand from her editor.

Oxford University English professor Kathryn Sutherland studied 1,100 handwritten pages of unpublished work from the author of incisive social comedies such as "Pride and Prejudice." She said Saturday that they contradicted the claim by Austen's brother Henry that "everything came finished from her pen."

"In reading the manuscripts, it quickly becomes clear that this delicate precision is missing," Sutherland said.

She said the papers show "blots, crossings out, messiness," and a writer who "broke most of the rules for writing good English."

"In particular, the high degree of polished punctuation and epigrammatic style we see in 'Emma' and 'Persuasion' is simply not there," Sutherland said.

Sutherland said letters from Austen's publisher reveal that editor William Gifford was heavily involved in making sense of Austen's sensibility, honing the style of her late novels "Emma" and "Persuasion."

Gifford did not edit earlier books such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," whose inconsistencies have sometimes been blamed on bad printing.

"In fact, the style in these novels is much closer to Austen's manuscript hand," Sutherland said.

"Rationality" Sets Science Fiction Apart From Fantasy

Via PGS contributor, Dominique Cimafranca: "Rationality" Sets Science Fiction Apart From Fantasy (as seen on Biology In Science Fiction). An excerpt:

It's kind of fun to try to imagine the classics of fantasy rewritten as science fiction. In the Lord of the Rings the One Ring could have been fabricated in a laboratory by a mad genius scientist, rather than forged in the heat of a volcano by a powerful wizard. In the Harry Potter novels, the horcruxes would be computer devices for storing copies of Lord Voldemort's uploaded mind, rather than magical devices used to hide "a part of his soul for the purpose of attaining immortality". But while the plot and characters might stay essentially the same in such a re-genred novel, that shift from magical devices to objects developed through science and technology represents a significant difference in world view.

What sets science fiction apart from fantasy is not just the tropes of the genre – future or extraterrestrial setting, space travel, advanced technology or scientific discoveries. It also the underlying assumption that the universe is controlled by natural mechanisms, rather than supernatural forces. Even though a sufficiently advanced technology may be indistinguishable from magic, such a technology must have been created through the application of scientific principals. And as speculative as that technology or the science it is based on might be, it's a feat that humans could hope to achieve. Magic, on the other hand, can exist only in the realm of fiction.

Learn To "Write"

Via PGS contributor, Dominique Cimafranca: Learn to "Write", an advertisement. As seen here at Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

E-Publishing And Business Models

Via Cat Rambo: E-Publishing And Business Models. An excerpt:

The rise of the e-reader does raise the question as to whether the subscription-based model might become viable. Certainly if you’ve got enough people subscribing through their mobile device, you could end up with a significant chunk of change, and we’re seeing (imo) some movement towards lower prices but more buyers with e-books.

One possible direction in trying to arrive at a new model is to borrow the one used to good effect by Zynga, which is to sell virtual goods, things that don’t exist. Here’s two possible examples, but it would be possible to come up with others without too much brain-racking.

1) Promote and build community heavily, driving discussion and recognizing/encouraging participation. Sell customizations to user profiles/avatars. For example, a vanity title or a special decoration celebrating a holiday. Sell memberships to an event and give the user a special badge or award that shows they participated in the event. To make this effective, you need to make participating in the community a cool experience that answers one or more emotional needs in users.

2) Come up with a game associated with the publication. Make it point-driven, and give users points for actions like reading the website or posting on the message boards, but (important) also allow them to buy points. Points could be used for turns, character items/upgrades, special names, pets, and so forth. If you think that wouldn’t work, go look at Zynga’s earnings for last year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Pinoy Students To Test E-Book Readers

In Laguna, some students are ready to give digital textbooks, through e-book readers, a try. About 1,000 freshman high school students are going to receive tablets loaded with electronic textbooks instead of physical ones. I'm very interested to see how this turns out. An excerpt from the article:

Some 1,000 tablets will be tried next school year among freshman students of LSNHS, University of the Philippines Rural High School and one public high school from each of the four congressional districts in Laguna. Data on the definite number of tablets to be distributed per school were not yet available.

Laguna has about 100,000 students in high school.

Twenty to 30 teachers will also be trained for the test run.

“It will be like a virtual library,” said Neil Nocon, provincial board member and education committee chair.

The Rizal Tablet, which Nocon likened to Apple’s iPad or Amazon Kindle, could be pre-loaded with “hundreds” of electronic textbook copies and reference materials for the high school curriculum.

Nocon said the use of the “tablets” would cut government expenditure on textbooks, since each costs only $100. The provincial government is subsidizing the procurement of the tablets from China for the pilot test.

“If evaluation on the use of the tablet proves that it is cost-effective and equally beneficial, the use of it in place of regular textbooks can be promoted,” said Nocon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Talecraft On Nokia's Ovi Store

Ria Lu, creator of Talecraft, shows her innovation: Talecraft is now on Nokia's Ovi store! It's a free app, so if you have a capable Nokia mobile phone, download it now! Pretty soon, I'm sure Ria will update the Talecraft app, give it more features, and perhaps adapt it to other mobile OS's like Android and iOS. Congratulations, Ria! Terrific idea!

School Librarian In Action Reminds Us Of Teen Read Week

I received this private message from School Librarian In Action regarding Teen Read Week:

Hi all!

It's Teen Read Week on 17-23 October and I'm celebrating the event via blogging the Top Ten Books I Read When I Was a Teenager. This is an invitation for your participation as guest blogger in this blogging carnival on young adult literature and reading through my library blog. You may post your list in your blog too should you wish to participate then we can exchange links :-)

So, if you're game, all you need to do is list ten books you favored reading when you were a teen (13-18 years old). You can send your list to me via zarah.gagatiga(at)gmail(dot)com. Your list can include a note or two on why you liked the book, or some side stories or context on your millieu at the time you read the book.

You can view my link here.

My response to her got out of hand, which is typical of me when talking about books I've read and enjoyed:

Hi, Zarah.

My list, in no particular order:

1. D'Aulaire's and Edith Hamilton's Greek Myths, and D'Aulaire's Norse myths
2. The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
3. The Prydain Chronicles by Alexander
4. The Narnian Chronicles by Lewis
5. The Earthsea Tales by Le Guin
6. Agatha Christie mysteries
7. The Time Quintet by L'Engle (actually, there were only the first three when I was between 13 and 18)
8. Stephen King horror tales of this era (Carrie, Night Shift, Christine, Salem's Lot, The Stand, Pet Sematary, Cujo, The Shining)
9. Edgar Allan Poe's stories
10. Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes
11. Roald Dahl's books (The Charlies books, Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, Danny, Champion of the World, etc.)
12. H.P. Lovecraft's The Lurking Fear and Other Stories
13. Various short stories by Asimov, Dick, Clarke
14. The short stories of Hemingway and Faulkner
15. Doyle's Holmes stories
16. Howard's Conan stories

Ay! I went over 10! Sorry! Actually, I could go on, but I'd better stop here. I'll blog and link up to your post. TY!

Hehe, look at that list...I'm such a nerd.

And if you want to know how I fell into reading, click here, which will lead you to a link to a contest I joined recently; comment #33 is mine. I wrote it in white heat when I saw the call for submissions for this contest, so you might say this is quite the honest reflection on how I became the heavy, and nerdy, reader that I am. :D

But did that stop me? Noooo, because a few moments later, I had to send Zarah this:

Argh, sorry, I need to add some more to the list! I feel like it's unfair of me to my memory of reading these books if I don't!

17. Watership Down by Adams
18. Dune by Herbert
19. Tolstoy's short stories
20. Chekhov's short stories

Ayan. An even 20. Puwede ko pang dagdagan, pero tama na. I'll stop here. Hehe. Sorry again, and TY!

And boy, could I go on. There are the various retellings of the King Arthur stories; Moorcock's Elric series; Cleary's many, many books on American life from the perspective of the young; many, many Newbery's, like those by Snyder, Konigsburg, Fleischman, Fox, McKinley, to name just five; Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White; and I still don't know why, but the librarians suggested even books for girls to me, which I read anyway, such as those by Blume (of course, they weren't as well-remembered as the others).

These are the books read by someone from my generation. I'd be very interested to hear about the books younger readers have read, remembered, and loved, when they were 13-18 years old. Maybe those readers and bloggers I mentioned in these posts (Filipino Book Bloggers 1, 2, 3, 4) would care to share? Leave a comment here, please! Thanks!

Greg Brillantes' Speech At The 60th Palanca Awards

Here's an article by writer Krip Yuson about another writer, Greg Brillantes, who was the honoree at the 60th Palanca Awards last September 1, 2010. Greg Brillantes' speech comes after the article. An excerpt from the article:

...we knew that Greg indeed took the risk of raising "nationalistic" hackles once again, especially since he quoted instructively from National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and Dr. Epifanio San Juan, a critic based in the U.S. In their own ways, both have argued for "de-Englishing" our literature and culture, as a blow against the so-called "power elite."

Greg argued back in his Palanca speech:
"(P)lease don’t call them the power elite — make that pawis sulit… they are a breed far distinct and apart from any sociopolitical class. A generation of the illustrious laboring in the vineyard of the Enlightenment…

"To achieve and witness all that, we need not wait for the advent of the Filipino Utopia that some of us seem still to fantasize about and even fulminate on — an absolutely, exclusively Filipino society and culture with only one language and only one literature and only one party forever and ever, so help us God."

What he stressed is that there is no need to separate ourselves as writers of this or that language, and that we can all prosper and contribute to Philippine literature in whichever language we have been trained best to wield.

"Let us have more ilustrados in our literature — luminous and illuminating in the creative sense — light bringers of the Filipino imagination — in Filinglish, Tagalog, Ilocano, Bicol, Cebuano, Bisaya, Hiligaynon."

Greg Brillantes's injunction was simply "to write well and beautifully, to write well and wisely and passionately, to write well and fiercely and tenderly. In a word, to write your masterpiece."

I would agree most heartily, since literature, as with all other art and expressions of creativity, are inherently universal, and not beholden to any restrictive claws of a national language.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Andrew McCarthy, Actor, Is Also A Writer

The actor Andrew McCarthy is more known to those from my generation (*ahem-ahem*, no "old" comments, please), but I didn't know that he had a way with the written word, too. It seems he's been busy also as a travel writer, and has won an award to boot. Here's an excerpt, and a short sample of his work, from the article:

Eighties heartthrob Andrew McCarthy has a second career as a travel writer, and he's a surprisingly successful one at that: The actor has been named the 2010 Travel Journalist of the Year in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.

McCarthy, the ex-Brat Packer and upper-class suitor of Molly Ringwald in "Pretty in Pink," was singled out for his articles in National Geographic, Bon Appetit, Islands, Afar and Travel + Leisure, Poynter Online reports. (You can read McCarthy's stories all in one place on his official blog.)

On top of that, his work has been commended not once but twice in the "Best American Travel Writing" series in the 2007 and 2008 editions (for the stories, "The Longest Way Home" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.")

In his 2,835-word piece "The Longest Way Home," the actor returned to his Irish roots on an expedition for National Geographic Traveler. His writing in the piece is no-nonsense yet evocative, describing foggy countryside and friendly natives in sparse, elegant detail. McCarthy wrote of his journey through Ireland:

"There's a certain moment in every memorable journey, often recognized only in hindsight, when the trip you are on presents itself, and the one you thought you were taking or had planned is jettisoned. It's then that you begin really traveling, not merely touring."

Ten Ways To (Seriously) Improve Your Writing

Here's a blog entry, Ten Ways To (Seriously) Improve Your Writing. Here are some of the tips: Study writing; study with more than one teacher; rejection is essential; it's all about the reader; who is your reader? Click here to read all the tips and their explanations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Science Fiction Gadgets Available Today

Some concepts, and the corresponding gadgets, from science fiction have made their way into today's technology. How about a gizmo that can give you a painless medical diagnosis, like the tricorder in Star Trek? How about an engine that runs on garbage, like the one in the Back to the Future movies? Click here to read about the other science fiction gadgets that are now available with today's technology.

The Future Of Stories

Writer Douglas Coupland shares his not so hopeful views of the future in this article, A Radical Pessimist's Guide To The Next 10 Years. Of interest to those of us who love stories is this point he makes:

It will become harder to view your life as “a story”. The way we define our sense of self will continue to morph via new ways of socializing. The notion of your life needing to be a story will seem slightly corny and dated. Your life becomes however many friends you have online.

Writer Nick Bilton has a contrasting viewpoint here in his interview, Nick Bilton Sees Media's Future: Storytelling.

WIRED: The publishing industry is obviously suffering with selling content. What do you think they’re doing wrong?

Bilton:I think they’re stuck in this world where they’re trying to push these analog models because they made so much money that way, and what’s happening is you have experiences … where someone starts a blog that caters to the same analog experiences.

With these mainstream products you can’t force the consumers to buy [the analog] versions; you have to enable these consumers to access the digital stream or else they’re just going to go somewhere else.

WIRED: So be honest: Does the WIRED iPad app fit your description of a good storyteller?

Bilton: I think it’s great because it offers a really beautifully designed experience, and it offers typography and the full narrative storytelling experience — but it fails drastically where it doesn’t have a social part to it.

The future has to involve our networks, where it comes to content consumption or creation, or else it’s missing a fundamental piece of the story. When someone goes to Facebook they can comment on their friend’s photos or comment on an article; there’s all these sites that allow conversation. Yet a product like the WIRED magazine application still doesn’t have that.

I think once social is integrated into it, it’s going to be a pretty compelling experience. I would love to download that WIRED magazine article and for it to reorganize itself based on which articles my friends have commented on, and I’d love to be able to see all those different kinds of views.

Tales From The Reading Room blogs about these two differing opinions here. An excerpt:

The underlying reason for their differing emotional reactions seems to be the same, however: both writers envisage a world in which stories are no longer offering guidelines for our lives but are mere tools that serve social interaction. In their future, we’ll be able to pick and choose whatever sorts of stories we want, but due to their fragmentation and their diversity, the implication is that the concept of stories will diminish in philosophical importance (even if they remain commercially useful). They’ll be less challenging, as an inevitable consequence – because whatever we want to hear, we’ll be able to find if we seek online for it diligently enough. We can close our ears to dissenting views, we can live more fully in the moment. Bilton sees stories responding to our immediate needs and personal desires, but Coupland fears that the very act of succumbing to the moment means that we’ll be ever less able to construct an overview, or a sense of long-term purpose or meaning to our lives.

This isn’t really a new conversation, but an addition to one that has been going on since the 1970s-80s and the collapse of the so-called ‘grand narratives’. This is the idea that we can no longer believe wholeheartedly in any of the founding stories of our civilized world – the story of religion, for instance, or the one of historical progress in which mankind is tending towards self-perfection through the use of reason. These are stories that comprehensively explain and regulate experience, offering universal truths of existence. But in the twentieth century, the growth of science, the study of language and two world wars and the Holocaust stuck a spanner in all of that. The critic who proposed this argument, a Frenchman called Jean-François Lyotard said it was just as well, too. The grand narratives were often used to reinforce structures of power already in place, and failed to recognize the reality of millions of people, not to mention the natural state of chaos in which the universe exists. In their place have come a whole bunch of little, local, individual narratives – the notion that my perspective is unique, just as yours is, and that our truths and principles may well be different in ways that cannot be reconciled. This is one of the main characteristics of the postmodern era, and it has been criticized for reducing everything to a condition of relativity – or, if you like, that there are no absolute truths any more, only an endless sea of personal opinions.

And how has this affected stories as entertainment and stories as a guiding principle for life? Well, the difference is the one you can see between a novel written at the end of the nineteenth century and one written at the end of the twentieth. That’s a huge field of inquiry but we can at least point out that we are much more sophisticated readers now, in an in-bred sort of way, but with a tendency towards a shorter attention span. And as for the story of our own lives, well, no longer understanding ourselves as constituent parts of some grand plan, we don’t often say ‘it’s God’s will’ and believe it, we don’t donate our lives willingly to wars in the service of a nation, and we think we have all sorts of rights and entitlements because our individual story is as important and malleable and open to possibility as the next person’s. The grand narrative no longer has any power – it is dispersed between all individuals, and we all like to think we have our share of it.

I have no idea how our lives will change in the future, but I do believe that if we change the way we experience and consume stories, then we will inevitably be changing the way we experience our sense of self and our lives. And so we should think carefully about what we wish for from our entertainment experience as it may just come true.

The Scary Stories From The Childhoods Of Three Pinoy Writers

Here's an article where Pinoy writers Jojie Alcantara, Rica Bolipata-Santos, and Ian Casocot share the scary stories of their childhoods. Jojie's story is about the spirit of a cranky old man living in a waterfall; Rica shares a story about a mermaid in despair; and Ian's about a half-dog, half-goat that preys on children. Click here to read the article and their childhood stories.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thirteen Astonishing Writers Of Fantastika You Should Be Geeking Out Over

From friend Tin Lao is this article, Thirteen Astonishing Writers Of Fantastika You Should Be Geeking Out Over. An excerpt:

Scanning the offerings at the local big-box bookstore or mercantile website, there's quite a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy out there.

Books in these genres get plenty of hype in the geek universe (witness the Fantasy panel at the New York Comic-Con this past weekend), and there are a plethora of ongoing series and thick, epic-sized novels to choose from in the marketplace.

But while it's entertaining to devour the latest Harry Dresden or Miles Vorkosigan novel, there's a lot more to fantastic literature than that.

Somewhere between the genre standards and rarified "serious literature" (itself often taking some cues from fantastika) are a cabal of wordmages who are spinning tales of wonder and regalement, yet are grossly underappreciated by wider fan base. They are fresh, idiosyncratic fabulists who both play with convention and pen enjoyable tales.

There are many to choose from, but I would like to select thirteen who are particularly worthy of being geeked-out over.

Whether you are looking for a twist on a cherished genre or for something that totally warps your expectations, these writers will provoke and delight you at every turn.

The Early (Not-So-Literary) Jobs Of 10 Great Authors

From a friend, Gilbert Tan, comes this link, The Early (Not-So-Literary) Jobs Of 10 Great Authors. I didn't know Kurt Vonnegut worked in public relations, that John Steinbeck was a tour guide, or that Joseph Heller was a blacksmith's apprentice. Heck, I didn't know any of the previous jobs of these authors, but it sure is interesting to know.

“Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one."

Via PGS contributor Dominique Cimafranca, this article, where some of C.S. Lewis' writing tips are shared. An excerpt:

Lewis was a diligent reader of writing samples submitted to him, both from close friends and from complete strangers. He offered general evaluative remarks, but also comments on specific lines and particular word choices. Sometimes he replied by offering a quick primer on the art of writing. To a little girl from Florida he offered these five principles:

“Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean, and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.”

“Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t say implement promises, but keep them.”

Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean ‘more people died,’ don’t say ‘mortality rose.’

“Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing.” Under this heading, Lewis goes on to say that the writing should delight readers, not just label an event delightful; or it should make them feel terror, not just to learn that an event was terrifying. He says that emotional labeling is really just a way of asking readers, ‘Please, will you do my job for me?’

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Call For Submissions: Historical Lovecraft Anthology

Innsmouth Free Press has issued a call for historical Lovecraft fiction. Some of the guidelines:

We are opening this September to submissions for our Historical Lovecraft anthology. The anthology will be available in print and as an e-book in 2011, and is produced and edited by the eldritch duo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles.

We want historical fiction with a Lovecraftian twist. Stories should be set in a variety of places, cultures and time periods. While we might buy one story set in 1920s New England, we want to stray far from the normal Lovecraft milieu. If you’re going to do 1920s, why not ship us off to China and tell the story from the point of view of a native of Shanghai? Some examples of ideas we’d like to see:

  • There’s something afoot in Henry VIII’s court.
  • A Mayan warrior discovers evil lurking in Tikal.
  • A trader in Byzantium finds a rare artifact.
  • The Pharaoh’s latest advisor is a man of vast knowledge and even vaster secrets.
  • The Necronomicon! Take us to Damascus as Alhazred pens the manuscript. Or to the printing of the 17th century edition in Spain.
  • Journey to Inuit Canada, where the ice holds prisoner an old foe.
  • Political intrigue in Edo leads to blood, tragedy and a brush with a fearsome entity from beyond the stars.
  • What happened to Machu Picchu? How bloody were its last days?
  • How did the jungle really claim Angkor Wat?
  • The rainforests of the Congo groan under Belgian tyranny at the turn of the 20th century. What deadly deals are made to free it?

Please note that for our purposes we consider historical anything up to 1937 (the year of Lovecraft’s death). Please, no stories in contemporary settings where the hero flashes back to the past or finds a convenient diary/letter set in the past. It’s an extra layer of onion we don’t want to peel. If the meat of the story is in 4th century China, then take us to 4th century China without having to detour into New York 2010.

If you are curious to know what we enjoy reading, look at some of the fiction issues of Innsmouth Free Press. The latest one is here.

Click here for the full guidelines.

Another Review of "Asian Supernatural"

Here's another review of "Asian Supernatural" by PGS contributor Alex Paman. This time, it's by Lee Cataluna of The Star Advertiser in Honolulu. The title of the review is "Author Puts Spirited Effort Into Pacific Ghost Catalog". An excerpt:

It took years, but Alex G. Paman cataloged every ghost, demon and supernatural entity he could find in Asian and Pacific literature. The result of his dogged research is the amazing book "Asian Supernatural -- Including Hawaii and the Pacific" released by Mutual Publishing this summer.

Paman, 42, an illustrator and writer who lives in Sacramento, was born in Quezon City in the Philippines and moved with his family to California when he was a child.

"I had always been interested in the supernatural, particularly the characters in native Filipino ghost-lore," he said. "Since I was a child, I also had this obsession of collecting every shred of information about any subject I was interested in."

He visited libraries, used book stores and cultural centers and added to his collection over the years. If there was a reference mentioning a supernatural character listed in a bibliography, he would hunt down that book.

"My collection grew from a handful to several bookcases' worth over the years, divided by Asian culture and sitting in my apartment gathering dust."

The one book he longed for didn't seem to exist. There was no reference book that listed all the ghosts throughout Asia and the Pacific. Paman decided he would try to write one and methodically went through his entire collection, working into the night after coming home from his job.

Have We Reached The End Of Publishing As We Know It?

This article, The End, was published in 2008, but it's well worth looking back to read it to see just how much the publishing industry has changed from then till now. An excerpt:

The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century—through wars and depressions—the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace. It’s one of the main (some would say only) advantages of working in a “mature” industry: no unsustainable highs, no devastating lows. A stoic calm, peppered with a bit of gallows humor, prevailed in the industry.

Survey New York’s oldest culture industry this season, however, and you won’t find many stoics. What you will find are prophets of doom, Cassandras in blazers and black dresses arguing at elegant lunches over What Is to Be Done. Even best-selling publishers and agents fresh from seven-figure deals worry about what’s coming next. Two, five years from now—who knows? Life moves fast in the waning era of print; publishing doesn’t.

So what’s causing this, exactly—this inchoate dread that’s suddenly turned “choate,” as one insider puts it? The anxiety would be endurable if it was just a function of the late-Bush economy: Sales at the five big publishers were up 0.5 percent in the first half of this year, bookstore sales tanked in June, and a full-year decline is expected. But pretty much every aspect of the business seems to be in turmoil. There’s the floundering of the few remaining semi-independent midsize publishers; the ouster of two powerful CEOs—one who inspired editors and one who at least let them be; the desperate race to evolve into e-book producers; the dire state of Borders, the only real competitor to Barnes & Noble; the feeling that outrageous money is being wasted on mediocre books; and Amazon .com, which many publishers look upon as a power-hungry monster bent on cornering the whole business.

One by one, these would be difficult problems to solve. But as a series of interrelated challenges, they constitute a full-blown crisis—a climate change as unpredictable as it is inevitable. And like global warming, it elicits reactions ranging from denial to Darwinian survivalism to determined stabs at warding off disaster—attempts not to recapture some long-lost era but to harness new, untapped sources of power. That is, if it’s not too late.

One must note that though the Kindle is mentioned in the article, there is no mention of the iPad, which at the article's publication had yet to be launched.

A Filipino Detective?

Take a refresher, everyone, and check out this old post of mine, Crime Does Not Exist. In this post, I ruminate on the very few crime stories that exist in Pinoy fiction, at least in English (I'm not sure about our other languages). Check out all the comments in my post, and then click on all the links to get a handle on this online discussion that occurred back in 2007.

After that, head on over to this post, Manila's Finest, at Jessica Rules The Universe. It's a writing contest where writers are challenged to come up with the characterization of a Manila detective in 1,000 words or less. The deadline is October 18, 2010, 11:59 p.m., and the prize is James Ellroy's Blood's A Rover.

And since I'm blogging about crime fiction, consider this a plug for what I hope will be the soon-to-be-released-and-long-delayed special PGS Crime issue, edited by F.H. Batacan, author of Smaller and Smaller Circles! Watch for the announcement on this blog!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Picture Books No Longer A Staple For Children

Here's an article that says that picture books are languishing as parents push "big-kid" books. An excerpt:

Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher.

“So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again,” said Terri Schmitz, the owner.

The shop has plenty of company. The picture book, a mainstay of children’s literature with its lavish illustrations, cheerful colors and large print wrapped in a glossy jacket, has been fading. It is not going away — perennials like the Sendaks and Seusses still sell well — but publishers have scaled back the number of titles they have released in the last several years, and booksellers across the country say sales have been suffering.

The economic downturn is certainly a major factor, but many in the industry see an additional reason for the slump. Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.

“Parents are saying, ‘My kid doesn’t need books with pictures anymore,’ ” said Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “There’s a real push with parents and schools to have kids start reading big-kid books earlier. We’ve accelerated the graduation rate out of picture books.

The Carl Brandon Society Addresses The Elizabeth Moon Controversy

The Carl Brandon Society is "dedicated to improving the visibility of people of color in the speculative genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, etc.". In this blog entry, they state their position regarding the Elizabeth Moon controversy (which began in this blog post by Ms. Moon).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Origins Of Some Well-Used Expressions

Have you ever wondered where expressions like "blood is thicker than water", "cat got your tongue", or "pass the buck" came from? Here's an article that tells us those origins. Quite interesting, the way these have come down to us over the years.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

56 Worst/Best Analogies Of High School Students

Here are 56 Worst/Best Analogies Of High School Students, and some of them are actually witty, whether the wit was intended or not. Almost all of them are funny. Here're some samples:
  1. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  2. “Oh, Jason, take me!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on $1-a-beer night.
  3. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
  4. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
  5. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  6. He was as bald as one of the Three Stooges, either Curly or Larry, you know, the one who goes woo woo woo.
  7. The sardines were packed as tight as the coach section of a 747.
  8. Her eyes were shining like two marbles that someone dropped in mucus and then held up to catch the light.
  9. It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
  10. The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
  11. The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.
  12. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  13. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
  14. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  15. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  16. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  17. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  18. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  19. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
I was in stitches with some of these. :D

The Boy In Me

sung by Mark Winkler
music by David Benoit (based on his song, "If I Could Reach Rainbows")

When I was a boy I could do anything
I could climb up a tree or fly kites on a string
In the night by the light of fireflies
And run with the wind right by my side
Oh, how I loved the wind

Now I never had the impossible dream
And I guess I outgrew wanting gossamer wings
But I'd look at a rainbow in the sky
Wonder about the other side
Oh, how I loved to dream

But I've gone and grown up, I'm a man
And the world didn't turn out like I planned and thought it should
But I've still got some dreams to come true
Now if only they would
Surely I could
Reach me a rainbow

Years tend to pass without telling you why
And the days chip away at your dreams from inside
And the things that you thought you'd always do
Run out of time ahead of you
Oh, how the years can fly

But I've gone and grown up, I'm a man
And the world didn't turn out like I planned and thought it should
But I've still got some dreams to come true
Now if only they would
Surely I could
Reach me a rainbow

Deep in my heart lives the boy that I knew
Though his eyes aren't as bright
His dreams are still new
And at times in my sleep, from time to time
Smelling the mud and dandelions
Just like I remember when I used to dream
If I only could reach rainbows.

The boy's still there; I'm still in touch. He's very much alive when I read or write, or during those rare times when I muster enough courage and gumption to step onto the tennis court again and, for a few minutes at a time, am able to play like that boy once more. And he's very, very much alive whenever I play with my own kids. :D

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize

The 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize has just been launched. The prizes are £1000 for 1st, £700 for 2nd, and £400 for 3rd. In addition, the other 17 writers who make the short list will receive £100. The deadline is March 31, 2011, the maximum length of submissions is 3000 words, and the contest is open to everyone. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style whether it be graphic, verse or genre-based (crime, science fiction, fantasy, historical, romance, YA etc.). Click here for the contest rules.

Vargas Llosa Is Awarded The 2010 Nobel Prize For Literature

Mario Vargas Llosa has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. An excerpt from the article:

The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, whose deeply political work vividly examines the perils of power and corruption in Latin America, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Mr. Vargas Llosa “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”

Mr. Vargas Llosa, 74, is one of the most celebrated writers of the Spanish-speaking world, frequently mentioned with his contemporary Gabríel Garcia Márquez, who won the literature Nobel in 1982, the last South American to do so. He has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays, including “The Feast of the Goat” and “The War of the End of the World.”

In an interview with The Times in 2002, Mr. Vargas Llosa said that it was the novelist’s obligation to question real life. “I don’t think there is a great fiction that is not an essential contradiction of the world as it is,” he said. “The Inquisition forbade the novel for 300 years in Latin America. I think they understood very well the seditious consequence that fiction can have on the human spirit.’”Born in 1936 in Arequipa, Peru, Mr. Vargas Llosa first realized that he wanted to be a writer when he was a child, enthralled with adventure novels by Jules Verne. After college, he spent time writing for newspapers and, like many Latin American writers, began his literary career abroad, living in Paris, Madrid and London as a young man.

His work found a wide international audience in the 1960’s with the publication of “The Time of the Hero,” a novel based on a Peruvian military academy that aroused some controversy in his home country.

Beyond being political, Mr. Vargas Llosa explored in his novels how politics feels to ordinary people.

9 Writers Who Should Have Won The Nobel Prize For Literature

Tolstoy! Chekhov! Proust! Joyce! Borges! Check out this list of 9 Writers Who Should Have Won The Nobel Prize For Literature.

The 7 Best Books From Nobel Prize Winners Who Didn't Win Their Medal For Literature

Here's a list of books from seven who won their Nobel Prize medals in categories other than literature. They include a memoir, an autobiography, a reflection on human relationships, sermons on faith, and a recollection of a scientific discovery. Varied topics all, and all interesting and enriching reads.

8 Intimate Details Of Roald Dahl's Life

Here are 8 Intimate Details Of Roald Dahl's Life, with pictures! An excerpt from the introduction:

Roald Dahl died 20 years ago. His life was filled with adventure, tragedy and incident. He was born in Wales in 1916, the only son of two Norwegian emigrés. After a conventional private education, he went to East Africa to work for Shell Oil and joined the Royal Air Force to train as a pilot when war broke out in 1939. He saw action in Greece and Palestine, before injuries sustained in a plane crash, caused him to be invalided out of active service.

Dahl often maintained that it was this "monumental bash on the head" that led to his becoming a writer. Initially he wrote stories about his experiences as a wartime flyer, then he became famous for tightly-wrought short stories with a dramatic twist at the end. His publishers dubbed him the Master of the Macabre. In his late 40s, he started writing for children. Many of his books, most notably "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" are now acknowledged as timeless classics of the genre. He was married for more than 25 years to the actress Patricia Neal who died earlier this year.

50 Banned Books That Everyone Should Read

Banned Books Week is over (check out my essay on this topic over at New Worlds), but it's still worth blogging about these 50 Banned Books That Everyone Should Read. The list includes titles one would expect like The Catcher In The Rye, Lolita, and Lady Chatterley's Lover, but what about A Wrinkle In Time, The Harry Potter series and James and the Giant Peach? Check out the list, and read them all. I think we'll all be the better off for having done so.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Aurora Wolf Ezine Publishes A Short Story With A Kapre

For its October issue, Aurora Wolf ezine has published a story entitled "The Balete Tree" by Pinoy author, Joshua Berida. It's got a nine-foot kapre in it. Click here to read his story. (Aurora Wolf is the same ezine where my story, "Spider Hunt", was published a couple of months ago). Congratulations, Joshua!

"Enhanced eBooks"

Here's an interesting article, "Enhanced eBooks Take Giant Book Fair By Storm". An excerpt:

Is it a book? Is it a film? Is it a game? Or all three? Publishers and authors at the world's biggest book fair are battling to entice a new generation of readers with the latest multimedia products.

That the electronic book reader has turned the book industry on its head is well known. Younger readers are no longer content to thumb through a printed book. The 21st century iPad generation wants interaction and variety.

But talk of the "ebook" that has dominated the Frankfurt Book Fair in recent years has given way in 2010 to excited chatter about the so-called "enhanced ebook", a mixture of the traditional book, audio, video and game.

"In five years, books will be more often crossmedia products: with embedded sound, animated pictures, Internet links and ... possible a gaming component, like alternative reality games," said Juliane Schulze, from peacefulfish, a consultancy.

But the counter-revolution is already starting, with advocates of the traditional format saying that people like to have bound books as a keepsake, in the same way they print out and frame favourite photos from their cameras.

"Take the digital watch," said Gordon Cheers, an Australian publisher who presented what he said was the world's biggest book at the fair -- as far from a mobile multimedia offering as could be.

"In the 1980s, everyone said the digital watch would be the end of the traditional watchmaker. Sure, some did go out of business but then analogue watches came back and everyone these days wears one.

"The same will happen with the book. Leave it five or 10 years and books are bound to come back into fashion."

Funke said: "I speak to loads of 16-year-olds who say they only read things on their electronic readers."

"But then they tell me that, for the ones they really love, they go out and buy the book."

Rumours of the death of the book have perhaps been greatly exaggerated.

Last Two Talecraft Workshops

Here's the schedule for the last two parts of Talecraft's Fantasy World Building Workshops:

October 10, 2010, 3-6pm

Powerbooks Greenbelt

Session 3 Language Making and Communications

  • It's not just language: Interaction
  • Getting the bigger picture: Law and Order, History, Philosophy, Religion
  • Culture and language

Goal: Create the character's world history

October 24, 2010, 3-6pm

Powerbooks Greenbelt

Session 4 Stepping into Your Fantasy World

  • Compiling your fantasy world. If you walked in your world, can you guide us through it?
  • Show-off session
  • Adding special zest
  • Talecraft in your world.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"The Concierto Of Señor Lorenzo" at Innsmouth Free Press

My thanks to publisher Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Editor-in-Chief Paula Stiles for accepting my story, "The Concierto of Señor Lorenzo" in their latest issue of Innsmouth Free Press. Thank you very much!

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Prizes!

The prizes--Lord of the Rings merchandise--which I blogged about here have arrived at my relative's place! Hooray!

Again, my thanks to Fantasy Magazine, to contest organizer and writer Cat Rambo (check out her stories here), and to publisher Sean Wallace!

Can't wait to see the movie (again!) in Blu-ray!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Habitable Planet?

The stuff of science fiction once again approaches potential reality. Check out this article, Astronomers Find Planet That Could Support Life. An excerpt:

Astronomers unveiled a new candidate Wednesday in their search for an Earth-like planet outside our solar system in a "habitable" zone, one just right for conditions that could support life.

"This is the most Goldilocks planet yet found," says team co-leader Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (D.C.). "Not too hot for liquid water, and not too cold."

Dubbed Gliese 581g, the planet is about 120 trillion miles away, circling a red dwarf star, according to a forthcoming report in The Astrophysical Journal. One face of the world is gravitationally locked to face its star, trapped in perpetual sunlight with the far side in perpetual darkness, says the report. Impossible to determine with present telescopes, life there would enjoy a permanent sunset (or sunrise) in a ring stretching from pole to pole, says study co-leader Steven Vogt of the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Of course, getting there is still a big issue, as well as trying to confirm if life does exist there, but science fiction has been considering habitable planets other than Earth for the longest time.

A Discussion On Local Books By Some Filipino Book Bloggers

My thanks to ArtSeblis for leaving a comment on this earlier blog entry informing me of the discussion going on at Guy Gone Geek. Her comment:

Hi, there's a nice, and fun, discussion over at Guy Gone Geek that may be relevant to the marketing concern. Alongside a debate on the attractions of zombies vs vampires was an observation on how local publishers hardly make use of popular books sites, like Goodreads, Shelfari, and Amazon. Search for local books and there are few. Users would have to upload titles, authors, tags, ISBN themselves. This is pity because these book sites are also widely used to generate book recommendations. One just has to type keywords or search within a category. I know my TBR has grown to monstrous proportion partly due to the diabolic power of these sites to generate search results. I would click on a link, read the book overview and reviews, and go, “ooh, like.” =P

Click here to read the blog entry and comments over at Guy Gone Geek.

The 2010 Asian Literary Conference

Via PGS contributor Erica Gonzales: The 2010 Asian Literary Conference.

The Reading Association of the Philippines (RAP) would like to invite you to the 2010 Asian Literacy Conference on November 3-5, 2010 at the Manila Hotel. With the theme Literacy across Cultures: (Re) Reading Asia, RAP, in cooperation with the International Reading Association (IRA) and the International Development in Asia Committee (IDAC), will bring together teachers and literacy advocates in the region to present papers, do demonstration teachings, and discuss important issues related to the theme.

Click on this link for the program of activities, the registration details, and the contact info of the RAP secretariat.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Pakinggan Pilipinas Episode 4: "The Bridge"

Episode 4 is now up at Pakinggan Pilipinas. It features "The Bridge" by PGS contributor Yvette Tan. It's also read by another PGS contributor, Nikki Alfar, and was published by the one behind Pakinggan Pilipinas--yes, another PGS contributor--Elyss Punsalan. :D

A Review Of Asian Supernatural

PGS contributor Alex Paman's first book, Asian Supernatural, is reviewed here at Psican. An excerpt:

Asian Supernatural including Hawaii and The Pacific covers all sorts of paranormal lore from ghosts and demons to fantastical creatures, and seemingly every other odd character in between. These are listed alphabetically, and categorized by nation, and culture. Did I already mention to you how ambitious the undertaking of a book like this is? I'm certain I did, but I'll mention it again in order to hopefully give you a better appreciation of the magnitude, and scope of such a project. The sheer volume of information to be found within the covers of this book is quite simply impressive.

I am fairly familiar with certain Asian lore like the urban legend of the Hong Kong bathroom ghost, which is described as a beautiful female apparition that will change into a frightening faceless spectre after she lures witnesses to a secluded spot. However, soon after I began reading this book I realised how incomplete my knowledge of Asian supernatural characters really was, and how quickly this book was going to become a treasured addition to my own home library. Inside I discovered so many fantastical creatures like the guei, yurei, kwisin, ma, hantu, multo, and lapu that in all honesty I had either limited or no information on before opening this book. The author also has provided his own illustrations of many of the supernatural beings that serve to enhance each unique listing.

The comparative capabilities between Eastern, and Western lore provided by such a resource makes it very worthwhile, and useful to researchers. While reading through this book you'll discover that although there are some big differences between the east and west within certain aspects of the supernatural there is also very much that is the same.