2011 is different, especially since The Philippines Free Press and Philippines Graphic--the two longest weekly publications that publishes short fiction on a regular basis--are now online. Gone are the days of scrounging for copies of the magazines, looking for missing volumes and filing them in chronological order, and then carrying a heavy stack when all you need is the scant few pages of fiction in each issue.
So basically in the span of one Sunday, I managed to catch up on what is presumably majority of published Philippine speculative fiction in the year (so far).
Here's are some random thoughts on the various publications, authors, and fiction:
Spindle: Didn't really source a lot of speculative fiction here (there's Maria Pia Vibar Benosa "What the Chicken Knows (Or, The Eight Stages of Grief)" and Fidelis Tan's "Jars") but as a general reader, it's living up to its name as an online literary journal. Right now poetry is easily its strongest suit but they're experimenting with other formats as well, such as comics.
Philippine Genre Stories: Disclosure: I edited the first issue. Personally, I don't like the genre tagging (as if each story could only fall under one category) but that aside, I'm really excited at what comes out during the rest of the year. With the launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 over and the end of the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, this is the last bastion of local spec fic that'll tide us over for the rest of the year.
The Philippines Free Press: In many ways, the magazine is in a fiction renaissance. Now I didn't read last year's issue but based from what I was reading two years ago, the fiction (speculative fiction or otherwise) this year is a significant improvement in quality. Whether that's due to submissions or the editor, I really don't know, but I can honestly envision the magazine almost standing toe-to-toe with Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6. 18 stories were published so far and seven--easily a third--are speculative fiction stories.
Philippines Graphic: The stories in the publication seem shorter and the quality isn't as strong as its rival, but it's still publishing some interesting stories and is worth monitoring solely because of that fact. 15 stories have been published so far and four of them are speculative fiction.
Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias: Disclosure: I'm one of the contributors. Easily a favorite in the batch, second only perhaps to Vol. 4 of the series. Unfortunately, the book sold out during the launch, so...
Kristine Ong Muslim: Apparently, this poet/author flew past my radar for the past few years. She's garnered Honorable Mentions in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and nominated for the Rhysling Award numerous times. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of flash fiction, which is what comprises most of her fiction.
Julian dela Cerna: He's recently been published in both The Philippines Free Press and Philippines Graphic and both of his works were speculative fiction stories.
Must-Read Stories: Here's a list of what's been published so far (you can contribute to the database here) and here are what I consider must-read stories for the year.
- "What You See" by Ian Rosales Casocot (Disclosure: I was editor for this piece); Philippine Genre Stories.
- "The Expedition" by Pocholo Goitia; The Philippines Free Press.
- "The NMIACI (The Fourteenth Fool)" by Cezar Ruis Aquino; The Philippines Free Press.
- "Open Angle" by Daryll Jane Delgado; The Philippines Free Press.
- "The Sweetness of Women" by Javelyn Ramos; Philippines Graphic.
- "The Big Man" by Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "Ashland" by Elyss G. Punsalan; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me" by Christine V. Lao; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "The Break-in on Batay Street" by Francis Gabriel Concepcion; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "Strange Adventures in Procreation" by Andrew Drilon; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "Hollowbody" by Crystal Koo; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "The Storyteller's Curse" by Eliza Victoria; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
- "Simon's Replica" by Dean Francis Alfar; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.