Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Magazine Review: Philippine Genre Stories #4

The latest issue of Philippine Genre Stories is this collection of five fantastical stories, many of which seem to be aimed at younger readers. With the exception of Tijam's story, the rest are easy to read and far from challenging.

Opening the magazine is Yvette Tan's "Chimaera" which combines Greek myth with basic sci-fi elements. It's a simple story and most of the text is spent developing the author's protagonist. The ending was a bit weak for me as there wasn't enough conflict, although Tan does give us a resolution. In the afterword, Tan describes that this is very much a high school story and that probably best describes the demographic for "Chimaera".

"Psychic Family" by Apol Lejano-Massabieau starts off with simple language and a young heroine yet this is easily one of the more sophisticated stories in this issue. Throughout the story, Lejano-Massabieau attempts to scare the reader and honestly, I didn't feel the terror but the author makes up for it in my opinion through her subtle ending.

"Blink, Wake Up" by Mia Tijam is this weird, seemingly plotless story. We catch several snippets of our protagonist's life and culminates in an ending tethering on vagueness. This is the most challenging piece of fiction in the magazine's history but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The cover story, "The Last Stand of Aurundar" by Vin Simbulan, is this unabashed high fantasy piece. Perhaps what makes it unique is its protagonist, a sentient castle, and the way Simbulan uses the second person as the viewpoint for the narrative.

"In the Dim Plane" by Dean Francis Alfar is set in the same world as Simbulan's story but executes his story quite differently. In certain ways, it combines O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and Greek choruses, set in a high fantasy setting. This is easily my favorite story in the magazine upon reareading it.

Overall, I think it's best to set your expectations for Philippine Genre Stories #4. If you're looking for a sophisticated and literary read, this isn't the place to find it, although there's some experimental pieces to be found here. However, if you're looking for simple and fun stories, you'll do well with this particular issue.

Rating: 3/5.

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.

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