Friday, February 29, 2008

My Venn Diagram of Genre

International Online Markets TOC (2003-)

Strange Horizons, January 6 2003
Bewildering Stories Issue 214, 2006
Bewildering Stories Issue 251, 2007
The Town Drunk April 2007
Dragons, Knights, & Angels, September 2007
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 13, October 2007
The Town Drunk November 2007
Serendipity Issue 3, November 2007
Bewildering Stories Issue 269, November 2007
Rubric Issue 3, December 2007
Flash Fiction Online, January 2008
The Town Drunk February 2008
Fantasy Magazine March 2008
Alienskin Magazine August 2008
  • Little Hands, Little Feet by Kenneth Yu
Bewildering Stories Issue 304, September 2008
Inscribed Vol. 3 Issue 5, October 2008
Weird Tales September/October 2008
Bewildering Stories Issue 311, October 2008
Fantasy Magazine February 2, 2009

Imagine TOC (2007)

Imagine Holiday 2007
  • Zo Invents by Luis Katigbak
  • Emily Around the World by Luis Katigbak

Philippine Speculative Fiction TOC (2005 - 2007)

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume One (2005) edited by Dean Francis Alfar

  • Jan's Door by Cyan Abad-Jugo
  • The Doppler Effect by Tyron Caliente
  • Tendresse by Andrew Drilon
  • Lovelore by Francezca C. Kwe
  • EmberWild by Nikki Alfar
  • Walking Backwards by Joseph Nacino
  • New Wave Days by Angelo R. Lacuesta
  • L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars) by Dean Francis Alfar
  • The Coward's Quest by Jay Steven Uy Anyong
  • Room Three by Pauline Orendain
  • Instructions on How to Disappear by Gabriella Lee
  • The Pepe Report by Ian Rosales Casocot
  • In the Arms of Beishu by Vincent Michael Simbulan
  • An Itnroduction to the Luminescent by J. Pocholo Martin Goitia
  • The Family that Eats Soil by Khavn
  • Regiment by Sean Uy
  • The Catalogue of the Damned by K. Mandigma
  • The Life and Death of Hermes Uy by Douglas L. Candano

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2 (2006) edited by Dean Francis Alfar

  • The Child Abandoned by Yvette Natalie U. Tan
  • Waiting for Victory by Michael A. R. Co
  • Snippets by Kate Aton-Osias
  • The Sign of the Cross by Russel Stanley Q. Geronimo
  • First Contact by Joseph R. Nacino
  • Clutter by Madeline Rae Ong
  • Hundreds Upon Hundres of Forgotten Memories Will Suddenly Appear When She Finally Decides To Leave What Could Only Be Called Mistakes In Her Life, And At This Price Moment She Will Have Realized T hat All The Time She Can Spare Is Long Lost And Will Never Be Returned by Allan B. Lopez
  • Six from Downtown By Dean Francis Alfar
  • How Saint Miko and I Ruined the Apocalypse by Andrew Drilon
  • Feasting by Joshua L. Lim So
  • Borealis by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • Gunsaddled by Alexander Marcos Osias
  • Wating for Agua de Mayos by Mia Tijam
  • Witch by Jessi Albano
  • What You See Is Not What You Get by Vincent Michael Simbulan
  • V.A., or The One True Agency for the Search of Disappeared Gods and Mythical Heroes by Oscar Bryan Alvarez
  • Re-Genesis by Jonathan Jimena Siason
  • Just Another Ghost Story by Apol Jejano-Massenieau
  • Bearing Fruit by Nikki Alfar

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 (2007) edited by Dean Francis Alfar & Nikki Alfar

  • Pedro Diyego's Homecoming by Apol Lejano-Massebieau
  • Keeping Time by F.H. Batacan
  • Faceter by Dominique Cimafranca
  • Reclamation by Angelo A. Lacuesta
  • The Datu's Daughters by Raymond G. Falgui
  • The Ascension of Our Lady Boy by Mia Tijam
  • Peekli by Andrew Drilon
  • The Hand by Marianne Villanueva
  • Brigada by Joseph F. Nacino
  • The Singer's Man by M.R.R. Arcega
  • Hamog by Joanna Paula L. Cailas
  • Visitors by Luis Katigbak
  • Sidhi by Yvette Natalie U. Tan
  • The Death and Rebirth of Nathaniel Alan Sempio by Alexander Marcos Osias
  • In Earthen Vessels by Rodello Santos
  • Carmen and Josephine by Elyss G. Punsalan
  • Sky Gypsies by Timothy James M. Dimacali
  • The Flicker by Ian Casocot Rosales
  • Urban Legends by Charles Tan
  • The Music Child by Alfred A. Yuson
  • Frozen Delight by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon

Philippine Genre Stories TOC (2006 - 2007)

Digest of Philippine Genre Stories

Issue One (2006) edited by Kenneth Yu
  • The Middle Prince by Dean Francis Alfar
  • The Wail of the Sun by Vincent Simbulan
  • Thriller by Andrew Drilon
  • Insomia by Joseph Nacino
  • Inhuman by Alex Osias
Issue Two (2007) edited by Kenneth Yu
  • The 101st Michael by K. Osias
  • Beacon by Nikki Alfar
  • The Scent of Spice by Crystal Gail Shangkuan Koo
  • Beneath the Acacia by Celestine Marie G. Trinidad
  • The Final Interview by Sean Uy
  • The Saint of Elsewhere by Chiles Samaniego
Issue Three (2007) edited by Kenneth Yu
  • Tuko by Miggy Escano
  • Twinspeak by Elyss Punsalan
  • The Devil is in the Details by Charles Tan
  • Homer's Child by Paolo Chikiamco
  • Y by Sharmaine Galve
  • Dreamtigers by Robert Frazier
Christmas Issue (2007) edited by Kenneth Yu
  • Noche Buena by Andrew Drilon
  • The Off-Season by Michael Co
  • The Magic Christmas Box by M.R.R. Arcega
  • Jumpercable: The Crossing by Erica Gonzales
  • Twilight of the Magi by Dominique Cimafranca

Story Philippines TOC (2005 - 2007)

I'd indicate which stories are speculative and what aren't but I haven't read them yet.

Story Philippines

2005 Volume One: Short Fiction That Swims In Your Head
  • Losing Mac by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • Allen & Borges: A Dream by Joy Dayrit
  • Natakdan by David Hontiveros
  • Siesta by Francezca Kwe
  • The Best Mayor We Ever Had by Nicolas Lacson
  • The Life and Loves of Doc Dwende by Sarge Lacuesta
  • The Forgotten City by Vincent C. Sales
2006 Volume One: Fiction by Candlelight
  • The Maiden & The Crocodile by Dean Francis Alfar
  • The Sound Wranglers by Mads Bajarias
  • The Painted Lady by Ian Rosales Casocot
  • The Haunting of Martina Luzuriaga by Vicente Garcia Groyon
  • Welcome to Limbo by Marie La Vina
  • Girl on a Couch by Rachelle F. Medina
  • Quizas by Johanna Carla B. Pilar
  • How to Pacify a Distraught Infant by Anna Felicia C. Sanchez
  • Hangers by Michelle Sarile
  • Hibernations by Rachelle Tesoro
  • Don Alfredo & Rizal by Marianne Villanueva
2006 Volume Two: Fiction That Breaks the Spell
  • Amongst the Bissayans of Zvbv by Carlos Cortes
  • Through Blue Eyes by Christine Fojas
  • Basil and the Lady Bat by Brian Protario
  • Baby Teeth by Miguel Escano
  • Slim Figure by Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon
  • Doe Eyes by Nikki Alfar
2007 Volume One
  • Dreaming Valhalla by Douglas Candano
  • Japanese Green Tea by Kilawinguwak
  • Troll's Doll by Chiles Samaniego
  • Chain Letter Siege by O. Bryan Alvarez
  • Woman 19 by Dennis Aguinaldo
2007 Volume Two: Slain by Fiction
  • Serpent by Kakambini A. Sitoy
  • Tears for the Last by Ronald Allan L. Cruz
  • The Icepick by Placido Q. urbanes
  • An Italian Dish by Eliza Victoria
  • Shadows by Raymund P. Reyes
  • Trips by Celeste Flores Coscolluela
2008 Volume One: Stick to the Story
  • Isabel Jimeno's Price by Jonathan Simena Siason
  • Senia Makes a Baby by Rebecca Arcega
  • Divergene by Rhea Politado
  • Princess of the Sultanate by Dean Francis Alfar
  • Fidela" by Erin K. Entrada
  • My Father's Store by Robby Kwan Laurel

Top 10 Best-Sellers as of 2008/2/24

From USA Today's best-seller list (you can find out their basis here):

  1. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  2. Strangers in Death by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb
  3. The Appeal by John Grisham
  4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  6. 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  7. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  8. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
  9. Bratfest At Tiffanys: The Clique #9 by Lisi Harrison
  10. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Not-So-Random Question for the Month

So if you were going to make a local speculative fiction fanzine, what would you name it?

2008/2/28 Tabletop RPG Podcasts

Every Thursday, I post links to various podcasts that deals with tabletop RPGs.

The list has been a huge time sink as of late and with my SF&F contributions at
SFF Audio, my fiction/writing section is gone.

Tabletop RPG (Mostly)

General Discussions/Reviews/Everything Else
Actual Play Sessions
Video Podcasts

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Repeat After Me: Ideas Are Not Stories

So I'm reading the Tales of Enchantment and Fantasy anthology and I run across a story entitled "Graveyard Shift" by Andrea L. Peterson. Of course when I read the introduction editor's preface, I already suspected "Graveyard Shift" was a story that had a similar concept to a story that I was writing*. Suffice to say, if I had to pitch my concept while in an elevator, I'd combine the words "call center" and "vampires".

Anyway, moving back to the blog entry that's not supposed to be an essay**, panicking or getting downtrodden is a common reaction among aspiring writers (and, uh, some published writers that I know of). Here's a helpful mantra: ideas are not stories. Let me repeat: ideas are not stories!

First off, kudos to Peterson for her story. Second--and here's the important lesson--there's more to a story than just the idea. A well-written story isn't well-written solely because of the idea. Heck, even the most mind-boggling sci-fi idea won't make a good science fiction story. What makes a story work is the writing. Some people call it the discourse, the execution, etc. And you know what, even if me and Peterson were working on the same concept, we'd still end up with entirely different stories.

Two stories later, I'm reading "The Sniffles" by Carljoe Javier, which is this comedic story that involves a deal with the devil. Sounds familiar? The entire incident (two concepts of mine, not necessarily the story) gave me a big LOL. And again, it doesn't matter if the concept is similar to my story "The Devil is in the Details". Because Javier wrote an entirely different (and enjoyable) story. Kudos to him too.

So what happens when someone else comes up with a similar concept as you? Don't panic, take a deep breath, and remember: ideas are not stories.

*My story is crap. I've gone through my third or fourth draft and I'm still figuring out how to make it work.

**If I wanted to turn this into an essay, I'd expound at how people really enjoyed The Matrix (not the sequels!) not because of the ideas it presented but rather how it utilized those ideas in the film... and the cool fight scenes.

Plug: Tales of Fantasy and Enchantment edited by Christina Pantoja-Hidalgo

From Dean Alfar:
"Tales of Fantasy and Enchantment" is the new anthology edited by Christina Pantoja-Hidalgo (Milflores Publishing, 2008). By next week, it should be available in all National Bookstore and Powerbooks branches nationwide.

Manananggirrrl by Marivi Soliven Blanco
The Sniffles by Carljoe Javier
Some Kind of Noir by Karl R. De Mesa
A Tidy Little Tale by Jose Claudio B. Guerrero
Graveyard Shift by Andrea L. Peterson
Haunted by BJ A. Patino
The Haunting of Martina Luzuriaga by Vicente Garcia Groyon
Monkey Watching by Romina Ma. Gonzalez
Martines by Anna Felicia C. Sanchez
The Stranded Star by Nikki Alfar
The Middle Prince by Dean Francis Alfar
The Sugilanon of Epefania's Heartbreak by Ian Rosales Casocot
Green Girl by Cyan Abad-Jugo
The Gyutou by FH Batacan
Mallina the Lovely by Tara FT Sering
The Other Daughter by Daryll Delgado
Orange by Natasha B. Gamalinda
A Secret Affair with Basti Artadi by Samantha Echavez
War Zone Angel by Emil M. Flores
The Fortune Teller by Gizela M. Gonzalez
I've spotted the book and my only comment is to remember the adage "don't judge a book by its cover". And if you want a preview of last year's winners in Fully Booked's contest, you'll want to check out the book for Ian Casocot's story.

Edit: Available at National Bookstore Best-Sellers Robinsons Galleria Branch for P350.00.

Edit 2: Cover uploaded.

Pulp is a Writing Market!

I neglected to mention that Pulp Magazine is a writing market. In our February issue, we published a translated piece from Khavn. There won't be a fiction piece in the upcoming March issue but there should be one in the succeeding issue from Ian Casocot's favorite writer (shhh, she's my crush too).

You can submit your queries to ericmelendez[at]gmail[dot]com. Stories should not be more than 3,000 words and, uh, at this point we have stories for around the next eight issues. As for payment, Eric will treat you to a round of drinks. =)

Random Question for the Month

Here's a question for the competitive types:

Would you rather:

a) Win 1st-place but tie with someone else or

b) Win 2nd-pace with no one claiming the 1st-place spot.

Essay: Intimidated by Giants

Every Wednesday, I have an essay on any topic that catches my fancy!

Whenever I meet aspiring authors (or even writers who have publishing credentials), I often tell them to submit their stories, either to the various publications or writing contests. There are two excuses that I often hear: one is that I don't have enough time. This essay isn't about that particular issue. The other--which has grown to become a pet peeve--is that they're afraid of the competition. Now they don't always say that outright. Sometimes, they just mention "but so-and-so is joining". Now being aware of the market and the competition, in any industry, is good. Being intimidated by them--as far as the craft of writing is concerned--isn't.

No matter where you are or whatever kind of work you're involved in, there'll always be giants in the field. Sometimes, it's best not to against the proverbial giant: during the EDSA Revolution, you could lose your life. In business, you're not only placing your finances at risk but that of your employees and customers as well. But when it comes to the field of writing and submitting to markets and competitions, the only thing at stake is your ego. That's not to say your ego isn't precious but if you're not willing to risk that, what are you willing to give up to achieve your goal? (And while we're at it, let's be honest: not everyone will like your story. If you can't take criticism, don't write.)

Writing, in my opinion, is a very unconventional field. In business for example, it's not uncommon for corporations to not only build themselves up but either directly or indirectly drag down the competition. The fiction market doesn't work that way. In fact, writers encourage fellow writers to write more and to submit! It's not even uncommon for established authors to train and mentor new writers--even if doing so is actually building up the "competition". The math is simple: the more people who joins a contest that I'm participating in, the less chances I have of winning. If I help other writers improve in their craft, that's one additional person who might be vying for the same slot I'm aspiring for. But do writers act that way? Some perhaps but most of the writers I encounter don't behave like that. I think first and foremost, writers are readers and rather than simply desiring to see their name on the printed page, they want to read good material. If this comes from people other than themselves, then so be it. (And let's be honest, reading your own material gets old too quickly. There's a lack of surprise for example.) Hence we have this community that encourages and trains fellow writers.

As for the giants in the field, there are two kinds. On one hand, we have those that act like the bullies you had in class, intimidating the rest so that no one stands in their way. At the other end of the spectrum are the benevolent mentors who attempt to impart all their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. If you meet more of the latter than the former, then good for you. But if we as writers are to improve and hone our craft, we'll inevitably be clashing with those so-called giants, whether participating in the same competitions or vying for the same slot in a publication. There is no endeavor that comes easy or doesn't have competition. However, unlike business, there's no real cost to failing except a bruised ego. And as far as giants go, if they are truly worthy of their reputation, make them earn it. You're only as good as your last work after all and if the giants are truly worthy of their renown, they'll prove it by the excellence of their stories rather than because their peers conceded beforehand.

If you're joining a competition or market because you're afraid of the giants, then I have two questions to ask. The first, is it satisfying winning a competition (assuming you won) or qualifying for a publication where there was no challenge? And my second question is how dare you assume that your fellow writers aren't giants in their own right? They may not have the reputation to back up their skill level but that doesn't mean they lack talent or aren't as worthy as the giants you sought to avoid. And the last thing one has to remember is that somebody has to start from somewhere and one can only grow and develop by attempting to accomplish something rather than conceding before trying. If you don't submit a story, there's absolutely no chance that your story will get accepted. If you do submit it, well, the worst thing is that you get rejected but you still have a chance, no matter how small, to succeed.

And if you're the type that fears confrontation, writing is the perfect medium for you. Why? Here's one secret. Editors and judges don't reject people: they reject stories. Your story is not you. You write stories and better yet, you can revise stories. Heck, you don't even have to be in the same room when the editors and judges read your story. You just get handed the acceptance or rejection slip. Is that honestly so bad?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alone in the Bookstore

I'll admit it--for the past few months, Powerbooks and National Bookstore have been distinguishing themselves from each other. There's a small selection of books which aren't available in the other. The good news is that these are books that I really, really want. Yesterday, I bought J.M. McDermott's Last Dragon and Dan Simmon's The Terror from Powerbooks and the rerelease Elric The Stealer of Souls by Michael Moorcock from National Bookstore. The bad news is that there's just around one or two copies of each. Either I'm the luckiest bibliophile in the world or...

Feature: Interview with Tim Pratt

Every Tuesday, I'll have a feature article posted.

Tim Pratt is an author as well as a poet and currently works as an editor at Locus Magazine. His short story "Little Gods" was nominated for the Nebula Award while "Impossible Dreams" won the Hugo Award. On March 25, 2008, his latest book Poison Sleep will be released under his pseudonym T.A. Pratt.

Hi! Thanks for doing the interview. First off, it's a little late but I want to congratulate you on winning the Hugo for best short story. I was listening to the Strange Horizons Podcast and you mentioned that you didn't even realize you won the Hugo until you started receiving these emails congratulating you. So several months down the line, how does it feel to win the Hugo?

Well, it feels pretty awesome! I grew up reading books that said "Hugo Award Winner" on the cover, so it's got deep and long-standing positive associations. It's an award from the readers, and so it means a lot, as does the Asimov's Reader's Choice Award, which the same story ("Impossible Dreams") also eceived. Just being nominated blew me away, and I was honestly flabbergasted that I won. I was thinking maybe I would place third, and figured even that was wishful thinking. The night the awards were given in Japan I was home in Oakland, and I didn't even bother to stay up late to see the results, I was so sure I'd lose. It wasn't until I received an e-mail reading "Congratulations!" from John Scalzi that I realized what had happened. (Then an avalanche of e-mails followed, and the next night, I drank a lot of champagne with friends.)

You have a new Marla Mason book coming out. Can you tell us more about the series, what's special about
Poison Sleep, and whether going by T.A. Pratt has had any effect on you (career or otherwise)?

The series follows the adventures of Marla Mason, a sorcerer with a tendency toward violence and absolutely no self-esteem issues -- she's always sure she's right, even when she's totally wrong. She's sort of a cross between a mob boss and a superhero, pledged to defend the city of Felport from supernatural menaces... and she gets a slice of illegal gambling and smuggling and other action as compensation. The series is being marketed as urban fantasy, which is fair enough, as it does have an ass-kicking heroine... though I confess I was just writing the kind of stuff I always write, and was delighted to be told it fell into a recognizable and good-selling sub-genre! (Though most books in the prevailing urban fantasy mode involve the heroine's love life to some extent, which my series... doesn't. Though Marla does get laid in book two.)

Poison Sleep is the second book in the series, but, like all the books, it stands alone -- that is to say, it's a wholly self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end, and doesn't require any foreknowledge to read and enjoy. Marla has to deal with the consequences of an escaped mental patient who happens to be an astonishingly powerful psychic. Those consequences include a plague of bad dreams, random transportation to weird bubble universes, and a guy who calls himself the king of nightmares. Oh, and there's an assassin trying to kill her, too.

The "T.A. Pratt" thing was a marketing decision, but I was happy to go along with it. My publisher wanted to create a separate and distinct brand for this series. So if you see the name "T.A. Pratt" you know it's set in the Marlaverse, and that you're in for jokes, violence, and weirdness featuring those characters. Whereas things under the "Tim Pratt" name are more likely to feature, well, jokes, violence, and weirdness, but not with those characters. (Admittedly, the lyric and sentimental modes I sometimes use in my stories, like in "Little Gods" and to a lesser extent "Impossible Dreams," are largely absent from the texture of the Marla novels.)

I absolutely love your short stories and several of them usually deals with myth. Is there any mythology you particularly favor or grew up with?

As in, grew up believing? Nah. I was raised pretty generically secular. I went to church a few times as a kid (Baptist, unsurprisingly,t as I'm from North Carolina), but my family wasn't really churchgoing. If pressed they'd probably say they were Christians, but it was never a big thing. Me, I'm a cheerful atheist.

As for myths I grew up *reading*, I fell in love with the Greek myths early on, and I'd write about them more than I do if they weren't so well-represented in fantasy already. There are tons of stories about the whole Greek pantheon, so in recent years I've been reaching for weirder, less well-traveled material. Still, there are stories in my newest collection about gorgons and harpies and the Furies, so I'm not totally weaned.

Your stories tend to branch out into other genres/sub-genres such as Westerns, super-heroes, science-fiction, etc. Is there a particular genre/sub-genre you'd like to explore more?

Most of my stuff is contemporary fantasy -- that is to say, magic happening in a recognizable contemporary world. That's my favorite playground. I do have a superhero novel I'd like to write sometime, set in the world of my story "Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters," but it's a long way down on the to-do list.

When did you find out you wanted to be a writer? What did you do to reach that goal?

I don't remember a time I didn't want to be a writer. The first thing I have a record of publishing appeared when I was eight years old. I've been at it pretty steadily since then. I just read and wrote a lot. When I was a teenager I started sending things out and getting rejected. I took some classes, did some workshops (notably Clarion in 1999, the year I finished college), and eventually stopped sucking so badly and began selling work.

You've probably heard this question a couple of times but what books and/or writers are your favorites?

So very many! Greg van Eekhout is a great short story writer (we published a chapbook of his stories), and has an awesome novel I suspect will sell soon. We also published chapbooks by Jenn Reese and by my wife, Heather Shaw, who both write fiction I adore. Christopher Barzak's first novel, One for Sorrow, recently came out, and is awesome. Charles Stross's Halting State is the best science fiction novel I've read in years. Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age novels are some of my favorites. Matt Ruff is a hell of a writer. At the moment I'm reading the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy Sayers, and greatly enjoying them. Seriously, I could go on and on and on. Books are my crack.

You seem to have a lot on your plate, between your writing, Locus Magazine, chap books, and Flytrap. How do you manage to find the time? Which do you prioritize first (at least on the day-to-day basis) and what are the difficulties in maintaining them? What's your schedule like?

Finding time was easier before my kid was born! (River entered the world on November 8, 2007, and changed the whole way I live and work.) I dunno. I can get by on five or six hours of sleep a night. I only work four days a week at Locus, so on Wednesdays I can concentrate on my other work. (I also do freelance reviewing and column writing, about 2000 words a week, every week.) I write fiction pretty quickly. All those things help.

My typical workday schedule: Up with the baby at 5:30 or 6:00. Start getting ready for work at 7:30. Into the office around 8:30. Work until about 2 p.m. Write for half an hour on my lunch break. Work until 5:30. Go home, hang out with my family, go to sleep whenever the baby does!

What's it like working for Locus? How did you get the job?

In 2001 I moved to Oakland, for love (to live with my now-wife, Heather Shaw). Had no job and not much in the way of prospects. Heard Locus was hiring, figured I'd be a good fit, and applied. Turns out my boss is good friends with Michaela Roessner, one of my Clarion instructors, and she vouched for me. I got the job! Been there ever since. Now I'm a senior editor, doing a lot of the writing and production work. I've pretty much stopped reviewing books, though. Just no time anymore.

Can you tell us more about your chap books and Flytrap? What made you start them?

I love 'zines and chapbooks! They're fun and cool and weird. I had desktop publishing software, and knew how to use it. So I asked my wife if she wanted to do something crazy, and she agreed. We started doing holiday chapbooks to send out in lieu of Xmas cards, and those were a lot of fun, so we decided to expand and start a 'zine, Flytrap. That went well, so we expanded to doing little single-author collections, of which we've done three. With the baby, I suspect we're going to have to cut back a lot for at least a few years, probably to Flytrap and nothing more. Our next issue is invitation only because we don't have time to read slush right now.

What medium do you find yourself more comfortable with? Short stories, poetry, novels, or editing?

If money were no object, I'd write a lot more poetry. (It just doesn't pay.) I'd be a lot better at poetry in that case, too... I love novels and short stories pretty equally, but in the same way I love, say, spicy chili and vanilla bean ice cream equally -- they're totally different, difficult to even compare, with their own rewards and challenges. Editing is at the bottom. It's not my strongest suit.

Any advice you can give to aspiring writers?

Write a lot, and read more than you write. Push against your comfort zone and try to expand your skill set. When you get rejected repeatedly, consider the possibility that the story isn't ready yet, rather than assuming there's a secret publishing cabal working against you, or that your genius is merely unrecognized. (I thought I was brilliant when I was twenty, but reading the stories I wrote back then? I shudder and blush with shame. It can be hard to judge your own stuff.) Don't keep polishing the same story endlessly; work on it until it's as good as you can make it, then declare it done and move onto the next thing. You'll learn more.

Any upcoming projects you'd like to plug?

Poison Sleep is the big one! Coming out in April 2008. The third Marla book, Dead Reign, will appear in November 2008. The fourth book, which has no title yet (my preferred title, Grift Sense, was already taken by another writer at Random House a few years ago -- drat!), is coming in April 2009.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Where to Find Philippine Speculative Fiction Stories?

So here's my question: where can one find local speculative fiction stories (in English) printed locally in the past few years? Here's a list of what I came up with (feel free to recommend if there's any source that I've missed):
  • Sunday Inquirer Magazine
  • Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 1- 3
  • Philippine Genre Stories
  • Fully Booked's Expeditions
  • Story Philippines
  • Philippine Graphic
  • The Philippines Free Press
  • Rogue Magazine
  • Pinoy Amazing Adventure


The updates are late because the Internet at home went pffft! at the most opportune of moments. Here are some quick musings:

  1. Turning off your Internet really gets much writing done. So to aspiring writers, my tip to you is surf less and write more!
  2. Had my short story critiqued along with three other stories last Saturday from the Lit Critters. The reception was awful and being separated from the text for several months, I agree that it’s crap*. One helpful thing to bear in mind is that as an author, I’m interested in getting my work critiqued because I know there’s room for improvement. If I thought the story was perfect, I wouldn’t have it critiqued, I’d shop it around to publishing markets.
  3. While my story didn’t fare good, that’s not to say that was the case for the other three authors. The other two needed some revisions before they became good stories. One story however was so amazingly written that I think it’s ready for the international market and might even be nominated for an award pending some revision on the author’s part (which is to say while it’s already a great story, it’s this close to being the best story out there).
  4. One pet peeve of mine is hearing other aspiring (and even existing) writers thinking that they can’t compete with other writers and use it as an excuse not to submit to writing markets and/or competitions. Guys and gals, while it’s great that you’re honest about your skill level, you’ll never get better unless you try. You’ve given up even the battle has started**. When my aforementioned story did not work, I said that I still didn’t have the chops to narrate the story effectively but I qualified it by stating “for now”. Just because I can’t do something skillfully now doesn’t mean I’ll remain that way forever. I’m striving to get better (although whether that happens one year from now or ten years from now remains to be seen) and I’m not using intimidation as my excuse not to submit to other markets or –gasp- not to write at all. Besides, who knows, you might be better than you think.
*Which is to say it’s unpublishable in its current form but nothing revision and editing (although in this case I think an entire rewrite is needed) will fix.

**Also, what are you saying about the “competition”? That previously unpublished writers have no talent? People have to start somewhere!

Book Review: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

One of the most difficult books to review are old novels--especially the ones that have been deemed classics. For example, I remember reading Alice in Wonderland and it didn't particularly impress me. As for The Last Unicorn, it's one of the novels that I never got to read but I fondly remember from my childhood thanks to the cartoon. Suffice to say, the book is just as good. Beagle's prose is long and the paragraphs tend to be blocky but the language is easy enough to comprehend and he injects some of the tropes of high fantasy such as poetry and riddles. The narrative itself follows the quest formula but then again, The Last Unicorn has this atmosphere of meta-fiction and I think is the author's intent. The highlight of the book is easily the characters, everything from the unicorn itself to Schmendrick and Molly and Prince Lir. Overall, it's not a bad book by today's standards and withstood the test of time quite well. However, considering this was published in 1968, I can easily understand why it stood out as a classic and its meta-fictional elements is to be lauded. This was a pleasant read that was easy to get immersed in, and has that extra helping of nostalgia. Fans of the movie won't be disappointed by the book and fans of fantasy might want to return to this classic.

Rating: 4/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

Book Review: Rapiers: Twin Fangs by Jeffrey Resurreccion

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

I really wanted to like this book--mainly because it's a Filipino endeavor at trying to write a full-fledged high fantasy novel--but it honestly falls flat. As a proto-novel, it would have been fine but there's a reason why first drafts aren't the manuscripts that make it to final publication. The biggest weakness of Resurreccion is a lack of description--not that he can't do descriptions but they're all in the wrong places and there's a significant lack of background on many significant details such as the setting itself (which seems like a feudal mishmash of magic and a little bit of techno-fantasy) or the various characters. For example, Resurreccion cites demi-humans but we don't quite know what they are or what makes them so different (I can only assume that they are anthropomorphic). We also have the Cursed, one of the antagonists of the book, but again we don't really know what makes them so abominable, whether it's their appearance or a particular racial trait. There are also attempts at characterization but it simply falters for many reasons. There's simply too many main characters in the book and while veteran and skilled authors know how to juggle them, this isn't one of Resurreccion's talents. Instead, we have characters that are bordering on being two-dimensional and fantasy cliches. The dialogue can also be stiff and even awkward at times. Perhaps what bugs me the most is that Resurreccion clearly has an anime/manga influence yet those elements seem to be randomly thrown in as we have characters that have seemingly arbitrary Japanese names mixed in with German, Spanish, and European. There's even attempts to distinguish the speech patterns of some characters such as one character who pronounces t's with z's or another character who ends his sentences with -poyo- or -oink- but these details seem superficial. That's not to say there aren't any good lines or scenes in the book but they're too few. The ending is also a dismal failure because it relies on emotional investment in a specific character and I don't think the important characters were the ones that were developed. Oh, and the villains suffer from the evil overlord syndrome. Overall, there's lots of room for improvement and the novel could have used a good editor but for the most part, it reads like an unpolished fan fiction piece.

Rating: 1/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

Book Review: Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

Goblin Quest subverts the associated norms of the traditional fantasy genre, especially the tropes of your typical Dungeons & Dragons party. While there are some authors who are overtly comedic, part of the fun of this novel is that it's enjoyable because it breaks down our assumptions of the typical fantasy world and instead adds a practical and realistic outlook--all from the perspective of the unlikeliest "hero", Jig the goblin. Hines's language is quite functional that's easy to get into although I find that it lacks that extra "oomph" that immediately hooks you as a reader. As far as plot goes, it's your not-so-conventional dungeon crawl (which is actually surprising because there's not a lot of dungeon crawl fantasy novels out there despite the pervasiveness of Dungeons & Dragons and its clones) with the occasional twist here and there to keep it refreshing. Hines's characterization is competent enough, everything from Jig and his lovable pet spider to the usually annoying and frustrating party members he ends up with. If you're a Dungeons & Dragons fan, this is one of those novels that easily fits the game and there are numerous times when I'm wondering what a particular scene or monster's D&D counterpart is. While the book isn't necessarily for everyone, fans of traditional and mainstream fantasy can appreciate the book, especially since that's the genre it pokes fun at. Quite an enjoyable read and even if you don't get all the funny moments, it's still a fun story.

Rating: 2.5/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Congratulations to Kristin Mandigma

A bit late on my part but I'd like to congratulate Kristin Mandigma for placing 4th in the Clarkesworld Best 2007 Stories with her story "Excerpt From A Letter By A Social-Realist Aswang".

Nebula Finalists

Congrats to the nominees!

  • Odyssey - McDevitt, Jack (Ace, Nov06)
  • The Accidental Time Machine - Haldeman, Joe (Ace, Aug07)
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Chabon, Michael (HarperCollins, May07)
  • The New Moon's Arms - Hopkinson, Nalo (Warner Books, Feb07)
  • Ragamuffin - Buckell, Tobias (Tor, Jun07)
  • Kiosk - Sterling, Bruce (F&SF, Jan07)
  • Memorare - Wolfe, Gene (F&SF, Apr07)
  • Awakening - Berman, Judith (Black Gate 10, Spr07)
  • Stars Seen Through Stone - Shepard, Lucius (F&SF, Jul07)
  • The Helper and His Hero - Hughes, Matt (F&SF, Feb07 & Mar07)
  • Fountain of Age - Kress, Nancy (Asimov's, Jul07)
  • The Fiddler of Bayou Teche - Sherman, Delia (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales,
  • Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)
  • Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter - Ryman, Geoff (F&SF, Nov06)
  • The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs Of North Park After the Change - Johnson, Kij (Coyote Road, Trickster Tales, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Ed., Viking Juvenile, Jul07)
  • Safeguard - Kress, Nancy (Asimov's, Jan07)
  • The Children's Crusade - Bailey, Robin Wayne (Heroes in Training, Martin H. Greenberg and Jim C. Hines, Ed., DAW, Sep07)
  • The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - Chiang, Ted (F&SF, Sep07)
  • Child, Maiden, Mother, Crone - Bramlett, Terry (Jim Baen's Universe 7, June 2007)
Short Stories
  • Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse - Duncan, Andy (Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan, Ed., Night Shade Books, Oct07)
  • Titanium Mike Saves the Day - Levine, David D. (F&SF, Apr07)
  • Captive Girl - Pelland, Jennifer (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue -- #2))
  • Always - Fowler, Karen Joy (Asimov's, May07 (Apr/May07 issue))
  • Pride - Turzillo, Mary (Fast Forward 1, Pyr, February 2007)
  • The Story of Love - Nazarian, Vera (Salt of the Air, Prime Books, Sep06)
  • Children of Men - Cuaron, Alfonso & Sexton, Timothy J. and Arata, David and
  • Fergus, Mark & Ostby, Hawk (Universal Studios, Dec06)
  • The Prestige - Nolan, Christopher and Nolan, Jonathan (Newmarket Films, Oct06 (Oct 20, 2006 -- based on the novel by Christopher Priest))
  • Pan's Labyrinth - del Toro, Guillermo (Time/Warner, Jan07)
  • V for Vendetta - Wachowski, Larry & Wachowski, Andy (Warner Films, Mar06 (released 3/17/2006 -- Written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd and published by Vertigo/DC Comics))
  • World Enough and Time - Zicree, Marc Scott and Reeves, Michael (Star Trek: New Voyages,, Aug 07 (Aired 8/23/07))
  • Blink - Moffat, Steven (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Sep07 (Aired on SciFi Channel 14Sep07))
Andre Norton Award
  • The True Meaning of Smek Day - Rex, Adam (Hyperion, Oct07)
  • The Lion Hunter - Wein, Elizabeth (Viking Juvenile, Jun07 (The Mark of Solomon, Book 1))
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling, J. K. (Scholastic Press, Jul07)
  • The Shadow Speaker - Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi (Jump At The Sun, Sep07)
  • Into the Wild - Durst, Sarah Beth (Penguin Razorbill, Jun07)
  • Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman, Steve (Haworth Positronic Press, Mar07)
  • Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog - Wilce, Ysabeau S. (Harcourt, Jan07)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Top 10 Best-Sellers as of 2008/2/17

From USA Today's best-seller list (you can find out their basis here):

  1. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  2. The Appeal by John Grisham
  3. 7th Heaven by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  4. Bratfest At Tiffanys: The Clique #9 by Lisi Harrison
  5. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  6. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  7. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
  8. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
  9. Fair Tax: The Truth: Answering the Critics by Neal Boortz and John Linder.
  10. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Who Wants to Be A Book Buyer for Powerbooks?

This is the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a book buyer for Powerbooks! Imagine free books! That your company pays you to read! And then you get to decide what books the various stores stock!

Currently there's an opening in the Children's books and Business/World Affairs. You can email inquiries to irish_powerbooks[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Crochet Dolls

Just plugging a friend's site where she makes and sells crochet dolls.

Mario Mushrooms

L from Death Note

X-Men's villain Mr. Sinister

2008/2/21 Fiction/Writing and Tabletop RPG Podcasts

Every Thursday, I post links to various podcasts that deal with the topic of fiction, writing, and tabletop RPGs.

Fiction/WritingTabletop RPG (Mostly)

General Discussions/Reviews/Everything Else
Actual Play Sessions

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Essay: Creating A "Best Of" Anthology for Philippine Speculative Fiction

Every Wednesday, I have an essay on any topic that catches my fancy!

This essay's for Banzai Cat who wants to talk about the intricacies of making a Philippine speculative fiction list.

A couple of us Filipino science fiction and fantasy fans are eagerly awaiting a thick tome of the year's best Philippine speculative fiction short stories in the vein of Ellen Datlow/Gavin Grant/Kelly Link's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror or Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction. There's nothing like the thrill of holding all your favorite short stories in just one book because let's face it, tracking down the various publications, whether online or print, can be time consuming or sometimes, simply impossible (thanks to small print runs or simply a lack of a good distribution channel). And thankfully, I think we've reached the point where we can actually have such an anthology--it's been three years since the Philippine speculative fiction movement gained some headway (note: Dear Mr./Ms. Anonymous, if you're going to comment to tell me that local speculative fiction has always existed, just stop right here because beyond three years ago, no one was even using the term Philippine speculative fiction nor do I feel was there a venue for such work to be published) and there's a couple of local publications and venues since then that have sprung up and started publishing science fiction and fantasy short stories.

So far though, what we have are lists. Don recently gained some web presence as he posted his list of the year's best speculative fiction (alas, my own list has been neglected) and I have another friend who has kept her top reading list private. Unfortunately, not everyone is Rich Horton so lists will remain lists but I've given some thought on publishing an anthology. Aside from the logistical nightmare (i.e. seeking an ISBN, seeking the rights from various writers, etc.) involved, here's some of the difficulties a would-be editor faces (and this isn't a list of excuses not to do such an anthology but rather one should be prepared for ahead of time).

First off, creating an anthology isn't be for the faint of heart. At the end of the day, when you make that list, there'll be someone criticizing you. It could be one of the writers you excluded, it could be a fan who simply begs to disagree, or it might be one of the more conservative groups who'll ask what right do you have to publish such an anthology. Compiling an anthology is pretty much like writing a review and it can draw heat towards you as well as praise. And perhaps one thing to remember is that when you're doing a local anthology, we all live in the same country and it's really a small nation. I wouldn't be surprised if you encountered authors on a regular basis and you might be living a block away from your worst critic. Balls of steel? Check.

Second, doing a "best of" anthology is a lot of work and many people are daunted by the task--mostly by their desire to be "fair". One needs to go through a wide variety of material and honestly not all that material is easy to acquire. I mean good luck finding back issues of The Philippines Free Press or Philippine Graphic. Oh, and if you thought tracking down all those publications is difficult, wait 'til you have to actually read them. Reading and re-reading takes time and while making a simple top ten list of the best stories you've read for the year is relatively simple, the pressure starts piling up when you're doing something as authoritative as a "best of" anthology (never mind the fact that everything is subjective). But don't get me wrong, this challenge isn't insurmountable. I do think it's possible to go through a lot of reading materials and as for acquiring them, well, there's always the Internet and one can always make an open call to submit stories published in the year. Will you get all the stories that's ever published in the year? Probably not. But it's the closest and I'm of the opinion that instead of getting it perfect, just get it out.

Third is classifying the stories. If we're going for speculative fiction, we have much leeway. But if you're going for something more specific such as science fiction or fantasy or horror, then one will eventually run into a story that'll make you wonder whether this belongs to one category or the other (and sometimes it's both). I can even imagine a scenario where the author might become angry at where you classified their particular work ("I'm not fantasy, I'm fiction!").

Fourth, what's your criteria for choosing a particular story or author? Here, a lot of elements will come into play. Classifying stories for me is important because the editor might want to create an anthology where half the stories are fantasy and half of the others are science fiction. What if there's a disproportionate amount of stories chosen? Does it matter to you? Another monkey wrench in your decision making process might be a prolific author. What if the author has two good stories? Do we simply choose one story to give an opportunity for another author or do we acquire both stories? Or maybe we do it the other way around: we think of the various authors to include and then choose their best work. Is that any more valid? Oh, and if the editor is an author himself/herself, there'll always be someone ready to criticize him or her (even other editors) if they include their own story in the anthology (whether it is indeed worthy of inclusion or not).

Having said all that, there are several good reasons to produce an anthology of reprints. The first thing that comes to mind is that it gives the stories of various authors a new lease on life. People who weren't able to acquire the publication in which the story was previously published in now have the chance to finally read it. It's not only the author who's reaping the rewards: readers of the said anthology might look at the references and become interested in the publication in which the story was originally printed, especially if they weren't even aware that said publication was in existence or printing that kind of stories in the first place. But first and foremost I think is the fact that here is an anthology of speculative fiction that features the "best of the best". Is it subjective? Yes, absolutely. But that's besides the point. Any one's list of best speculative fiction stories are just as opinionated and biased. But unlike a list, an anthology can be verified by the reader--people can actually read the story (as opposed to tracking it down) and judge for themselves whether the story is truly good or not.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Article in Manifesto Magazine

I have an article in this month's Manifesto Magazine about bookstores!

How Geeky is Your Gaming Group?

We were playing the Order of the Stick Adventure Game during a friend's bachelor party last year. Inside a motel (alas, we weren't in the X-Men Room or the Austin Powers Room).

Not in the Mood... For Anything

Here's what my podcast listing schedule is like: I arrived at the office at around 7 am, opened my web browser, and been surfing the web ever since. Thank God for the person who invented browser tabs. Anyway, after spending an hour and a half going through all the gaming podcasts, downloading them, writing about them, and then cursing myself for visiting the wrong website for We'd Rather Be LARPing ever since December (sorry We'd Rather Be LARPing people!), I'm simply fatigued.

Feature: Interview with SF Signal

Every Tuesday, I'll have a feature article posted.

One of the sites I frequently visit is
SF Signal, easily one of the best places to find cool SF&F news. Since I'd like to think I'm an unconventional, instead of focusing on writers, today we take a look at things from the side of fans and who better than the guys over at SF Signal?

Hi! Thanks for doing the interview. First off, for those who don't know what SF Signal is, can you tell us in your own words what SF Signal is all about?

SF Signal is a group blog devoted to science fiction and, to a lesser degree, other genre fiction like fantasy and horror.

JP: What John said! Although we have tended to focus more on written science fiction in the past, but are now adding a bit more about the visual side of SF (movies and TV).

When did SF Signal get started? How did you guys come up with the concept?

JP had the idea of jumping on the blog bandwagon. I wondered whether anyone really wanted to know details on our personal lives. He suggested a themed blog and, since we both like science fiction, SF Signal was born. Well, hatched would be more like it. The idea was that we could have a place to share sf-related things, kind of the web-based equivalent of shooting a "look at this" email.

JP: Yup, way back when (2003), there were very few science fiction blogs, so I thought it would be a cool idea to start one. Plus we'd be getting in on the whole 'blog' craze.

How many people are running the show? Can you tell us more about yourselves? What are your reading preferences (i.e. favorite authors/genres/publications, etc.)? Favorite show? Favorite game? Any other geek trivia?

Originally it was JP and myself, who remain the regular contributors, but others friends ("irregulars") have dropped in along the way. (Hi Tim, Scott, Kevin, Rich and Trent!)

My personal preferences for science fiction are books, TV and movies, in that order.

As far as reading, my tastes cover a whole range of sub-genres and writing styles - basically, whatever I'm in the mood for when it comes time to pick something to read. I also like to alternate between novels and short fiction. I like reading classic sf because it has a certain charm that is hard to find today; I think because we knew a lot less back then about the nature of space travel. It interests me to see how writers of the past envisioned their future, our now. That said, there are a whole lot of recent authors who write some great stuff.

TV shows I like watching include Doctor Who (and that I got my daughter hooked on it); Torchwood; Eureka; The Office; Law and Order:SVU. And don't we all miss Firefly?

Movies I like: Gattaca; Primer; The Fifth Element; Star Wars; Minority Report; The Day the Earth Stood Still; The Iron Giant; Independence Day...and many more.

JP: I'd like to read more than I've had time to do recently, but I'm always open to a good SF TV show or movie. I like them all equally.

I like to read a good, giant-sized space operas. Something you'd see from Hamilton or Reynolds, or even Banks, if you consider the Culture novels to be space opera. I'd say those three authors, plus David Brin, John Scalzi and others are some of my favorites. Because of the blog I've been able to read a bunch of newer authors who I also like: Tobias Buckell and Chris Roberson jump to mind.

As far as TV goes: LOST is currently the only TV show I absolutely have to watch the night it airs. Eureka is a close second. Everything else can wait till later. And the only non-SF TV I'll watch is anything involving the Astros, Texans or Rockets, in that order. I don't watch much TV in general though.

Movies I really like include: Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Ghostbusters, The Fifth Element, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and more. My DVD collection is mostly SF and Looney Tunes.

Hmm, favorite game is a tough one. I tend to burn out after playing a game for a long time, no matter how good. Recently, I thought Mass Effect ended up really good after a slow start. I think the first Halo was good from a story perspective even if it's nothing special from a shooter point of view. Oh, Bioshock was great. I tend to forget about older games which is why you don't see any here.

Why name the site SF Signal?

Because Supermodel Signal was too long. (Ba-dum crash!) If memory serves, we were trying to convey the idea of sharing information. Geeks that we are, we brought up an online visual thesaurus and clicked our way to "Signal".

JP: That's pretty much it.

How are you related to Gaming Signal? Are you guys starting a franchise?

Gaming Signal is an offshoot of SF Signal in that many of the folks involved in SF Signal (mostly the others) are really into gaming: board games, PC games, console games, card games. Kevin even owns his own game company (

JP: Currently, Gaming Signal is like the red-headed step child of SF Signal. We seem to post in spurts over there as opposed to a steady stream of stuff.

Have any of you thought about pursuing a career in writing?

Me? No. I could, except that I lack the perseverance, desire and skill. I'm not sure, but I think they are requirements or pursuing a career in writing. We're not aspiring writers, we're just fans who are enthusiastic about sf.

JP: Ha! No. I'm just a fan.

How is work divided among you? What's your "schedule" when it comes to posting on the site?

The primary mantra of the SF Signal, if we have one, is that it's supposed to be fun. Nobody is required to do anything. Feel like ranting about the crappy Flash Gordon pilot? Go for it! Want to write a review of the book you read? Great! We've settled into routines of course. The tidbits and tube bits posts stemmed from a desire to cut down on one-sentence posts, for example. Rather than not mention it at all, we still wanted to convey the information, so we collected them up into a batch post. We have no set schedule, yet we collectively post every day. That says less about schedule and more about how we find it enjoyable.

JP: I don't have a 'schedule' either, although I'll try to get my stuff posted during the week. I'll try to post something every weekday, but it doesn't always happen. Lately I've been adding stuff on Sundays so people can watch something if they want. As long as Hulu is free, that will continue.

How do you come up with the links on our site? Is it just Google-fu? Or maybe you guys are from the future...

I subscribe to an inordinately large number of RSS feeds that I troll daily. Yes, some of those are Google searches.

JP: It's all about RSS feed trollage.

What sites pique your interest? What are your favorite websites?

Really it's just a matter of personal taste. I write tidbits about the things I find interesting and so pass them along thinking others may as well. I know others see SF Signal as a news site, but really the things we post about match our interests. We don't post about every single news item out there, because that would be work, not fun.

JP: I read SF and tech/science related sites. Too many to list here really, although I tend to stay away from the Gawker sites as I find their tone to be tedious and juvenile, even if they are absurdly popular.

Can I ask how many hits you get per day? Are you "earning" from the site?

Yes, you may ask. :) We are just now dabbling with advertising.

JP: We've seen a slow but steady increase in readership over the years. If you care about Alexa, we've been averaging out at about 112,000 the past month or so. If you look at our feed reader numbers (on the left hand side of the blog), you'll see that's been going up too, with a bigger uptick recently. We've topped out at just over 1600 readers there. Of course, not everyone reads the blog via RSS feed. You'll see us dabble more with advertising in the near future as there are things we want to do that will cost us a bit of cash to accomplish.

What's your book review process like? Enjoying it?

In a nutshell, I choose a book that looks interesting (why read something that doesn't?), then I read it, and I try to write something that will help me remember what it was about and what I liked or disliked about it. A while back, I documented my thoughts on reviewing ( and they pretty much still hold up today. I suppose when I stop enjoying it, I'll stop doing it.

JP: Like John, I read what interests me. Apparently, what interests me also interests the Hugo voters. Go figure. Do I enjoy reviewing? I can't say that I really enjoy writing reviews as the free time I have to really polish one up is non-existent. Usually I have to make do with one or two passes over it.

Anything else you'd want to mention or plug?

Just that I'm very appreciative of the folks who take the time to comment at our site or link to us from theirs.

JP: Not really, other than : Thanks for reading, we get a kick out of all the comments and tell all your friends!