Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Not A Book Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 by Dean and Nikki Alfar
Normally, I don't do reviews of publications I'm involved with (errr, all two of them) but I recently finished reading Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 and I just had to write about it. First and foremost is the cover art and while I still prefer the neatness of the cover of the first volume, the third volume's cover is quite impressive. The Introduction actually blew me away because it's turning into a year-in-review of sorts as Dean and Nikki cite various publications and organizations that are recognizing speculative fiction. It gives me hope that one day it'll be as comprehensive as Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror tome. Anyway, let's move on to the stories and there's a lot, twenty one to be exact. Absent from the book however are stories from the editors--for some a possible point of contention in the previous volumes. Anyway, I'll tackle the stories that caught my eye. Opening the anthology is "Pedro Diyego's Homecoming" by Apol Lejano-Massebieau and it blew me away with its strong narrative voice. It's far from heavy fantasy but rather a realistic story told with one fantastical element to it--and succeeds! Dominique Cimafranca's "Facester" is easily a guilty pleasure mainly because I love mysteries and how the story is resolved was entertaining. Raymond G. Falgui's "The Datu's Daughters" is a great fairy tale-type story--easily one of my favorites in the collection--while Mia Tijam's "The Ascension of Our Lady Boy" I praise because of the narrator's characterization and tone (especially because I can never imagine the author talking that way but that's just my personal insight coming into play). Another favorite is "The Death and Rebirth of Nathaniel Alan Sempio" by Alexander Osias mainly because by the time I got to this story, it was refreshing with its upbeat and action-oriented pace--a stark contrast from the previous stories which were either too serious or too horrific (Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 easily could have been the horror anthology). Perhaps the most imaginative story I read was "Frozen Delight" by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon as it features a concept I would never have thought of and executes it perfectly. One of my observations however is that the anthology is "too Filipino" in the sense that most of the stories use the Philippines as a setting albeit utilized in different ways.