Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

datlow & windling: the faery reel

My mother loves science fiction and fantasy. Always has, always will. Recently she sent three balikbayan boxes from California stuffed with chocolate, other goodies, and books. Among them was this anthology of fantasy stories chosen by award-winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri WindlingThe Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm.

The cover and interior art, by Charles Vess, evokes a world that exists in the dusk of imagination, in the reality of mind. Fiction by masters of the craft such as Tanith Lee (“Elvenbrood”), Delia Sherman (“Catnyp”) and Neil Gaiman (the eponymous poem “Faery Reel”) take you to that world.

Holly Black‘s “The Night Market” is a stunner. Written by the New Jersey-born author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, the story is set in Alaminos, Pangasinan, and tells of a clever mortal, who, to save her sick sister, gets the better of an engkanto – or does she? Referencing tree spirits, gayuma, and lambanog, it offers Philippine folklore to a wider audience.

Black says in an author’s note:

…most of the story came from tales of tree spirits that I’d heard from my Filipino mother-in-law and her friends. In fact, one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing “The Night Market” was being able to call someone in the middle of the night and get a description of the weeds in Alaminos or a line of dialogue translated into Tagalog.

Meanwhile, the debate on the usage of the words “fairy” and “faery” continue among etymology enthusiasts. From the preface by Datlow and Windling:

The word faery comes from the Latin fatare (meaning “to enchant”), and over the centuries they’ve been known by many related names such as fee, fai, fey, fai-erie, fayre, faery, and fairy. The latter two names are the ones used today, and either spelling is historically correct… Faerie, in modern usage, is the name of the realm where fairies live, and the faery race is often referred to collectively as the Fey.

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anna ishikawa: where your dreams come true

Fox Books has a winner in Where Your Dreams Come True, a novel written by Anna Ishikawa, illustrated by Kristian Teves.

I read this story when it was still being edited by Fox Books editor Sarah Grutas – photocopied onto used paper, a binder clip holding the pages together. I took it home, started reading it in bed – and could not put it down until I was finished. It’s that absorbing.

Anna’s depiction of her main character, Emily, is so true-to-life, it could almost have happened in reality. (Parts of it most probably did.) I actually have met people like Emily before. (Diba, Miss Jas?) The most refreshing thing about this novel is the humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone, peppered with current colloquialisms that elicit an immediate reaction of “Oo nga, ganito talaga!”

What else can I say? Buy it na. ‘Wag mong paabutin ng one hundred years bago mo bilhin!

About the author:

Si Anna Ishikawa ay naging bahagi ng tatlong national writing workshops at nanalo na rin sa ilang patimpalak. Kapag hindi nagsusulat, siya ay tumatambay sa mall, nagbabasa, gumuguhit, nanonood ng anime, at nagtuturo ng English at Creative Writing sa UP Diliman…Siya rin ang may-akda ng Odd Girl Out.

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bucoy, sto domingo, siy: tres amores

Another of Fox Books’ pioneer offerings, Tres Amores is a 3-in1 book of romance in the city, written from three different feminine points-of-view – that of a high school student, a college student, and a working girl.

Accurately reflecting the angst and emotion of young love in a Filipino setting, the stories will touch a chord of recognition in all those who have ridden the roller-coaster of heartbreak and happiness.

With interesting illustrations by Kristian Teves, “isang ordinaryong college student ng Far Eastern University…isang tunay na loverboy”, this book is a must-add to your collection of contemporary Filipino stories.

About the authors:

Si Layeta Bucoy ay nagtapos ng AB Communication Arts sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Los Baños noong 1996 at ang kanyang MFA in Creative Writing sa De La Salle University noong 2003. Nagkamit siya ng gantimpala mula sa Palanca noong 1998 at 2007. Ang kanyang mga dula ay naitanghal na ng PETA, ng Cultural Center of the Philippines, at ng Saison Theater Program sa Tokyo, Japan. Kasalukuyan siyang nagtuturo ng Humanidades sa UP Los Baños.

Si Ardee Sto Domingo ay nagtapos ng BS Electronics and Communications Engineering sa Technological University of the Philippines noong 2003. Mahilig magbasa at magsulat, kasalukuyan siyang head writer ng sikat na soap opera na mapapanood sa GMA.

Si Beverly Siy ay nagtapos ng BA Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino (cum laude) sa UP Diliman. Naging fellow na si Bebang sa UP at UST National Writers’ Workshops at naging aktibong bahagi ng pamunuan ng UP Writers’ Club at LIRA…noong Hulyo 2006, inilabas ang kanyang maikling kuwento bilang bahagi ng Hilakbot I, Loyola High, at City Lights, mga aklat na pang-adolescent. Sa Setyembre, lalabas na ang kanyang nobelang Mingaw.

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fox literary house launch

After decades of having mostly foreign writers on the shelves of local bookstores, slowly the Philippine fiction market is growing and gaining more adherents – among them nationalistic young people who enjoy the best of global and local literature, and create their own stories with a uniquely Filipino flavor.

The newest kid on the publishing block is Fox Literary House. With cum laude UP (University of the Philippines) Creative Writing graduate Sarah Grutas at the editorial helm, the stories offered are among the best of the new generation of Pinoy fiction that are sure to appeal to a wide audience.

Attend the Fox Mega Launch (see invitation below) and enter an edgy new dimension in words and art.

Fox_launch_invite_pink

Fox Books are available at Fully Booked, National Bookstore, Power Books, and many other outlets.

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my fiction: ang multo sa karerahan

A short story set at the racetrack, written in December 2007 in Filipino (mix of Tagalog and English)…

ANG MULTO SA KARERAHAN

HIGIT dalawang taon nang all-around sa production ng live horseracing coverage si Jeng. Scriptwriter, producer, director, pati host ng show, lahat, ginagawa niya. Bukod sa maliit ang budget ng production company, bihira lang din kasi ang production people na nakakaintindi sa kumplikadong mundo ng karera ng kabayo.

Si Jeng ay empleyada ng network na may hawak ng kontrata ng broadcast coverage ng makasaysayang karerahan sa gitna ng lungsod. Malawak ang lupain ng karerahan. Sa bukana, may isang office building sa kaliwa at dalawang two-story na gusali sa harapan, na itinayo noong dekada trenta. Puti ang mga ito, estilong Art Deco. Mga historical monument na nga.

Ang dalawang gusali sa harapan ay mga panooran. Sa likuran nito ay ang mga grandstands, parang bleachers, na nakatanaw sa pista. Sa main buildings, naroon ang mga viewing box o kuwarto ng mga horseowners at “big bettors” na can afford na umupa ng sarili nilang tambayan.

Sa second floor ng main building sa kaliwa, bukod sa owners’ boxes, naroon din ang mga VIP room at grand ballroom. Noong araw, dekada ’50, sabi ng lola ni Jeng, nagbo-ballroom dancing daw sila roon. Sosyal raw ang lugar na iyon. Ngunit ito ay naging biktima na ng mahabang taon at pagpapabaya. Wala nang sumasayaw doon, at hindi na ito ginagamit.

Ine-ere sa cable television ang karera, six days a week. Ang studio sa lumang karerahan ay nasa kaliwang dulo ng ballroom. Doon lagi si Jeng kapag may karera sila, dahil katabi ng studio ang control room.

Doon sila tumitira ng video production ni Jobuks, ang kanyang video editor. Marami silang kailangang gawin na pang-video support. Kasama na roon ang teasers o plugs ng mga darating na stakes races o malalaking karera; ang mga announcements ng karerahan tungkol sa bagong OTBs o off-track betting stations; mga chargen ng pangalan ng kabayo, hinete, may-ari, trainer, timbang, lahi, at iba pang impormasyon para sa mga karerista.

Kadalasan ay inaabot sila hanggang hatinggabi sa trabaho, minsan madaling -araw. Ewan kung bakit ang mga creatives tulad nila ay parang mga bampira, na mas gustong matulog sa araw at magtrabaho sa gabi.

Isang gabi, may hinahabol silang teaser ni Jobuks. Tapos na ang karera. Nakauwi na ang lahat. Pasado alas-dose na at sila lang ang natira sa tahimik na gusali.

Malamig sa loob ng control room, at sumakit na ang ulo ni Jeng sa katititig sa sumasayaw na kulay at imahe sa monitor ni Jobuks. Hawak niya ang script. “Paki-insert lang, Jo, nung footage ng karera nila Key Apo dyan sa gitna,” sabi ni Jeng. “Tapos isingit mo na yung chargen ng lineup ng stakes race sa Linggo.”

Minasahe ni Jobuks ang pumipintig na batok at tumango. “Sure, Ma’m Jeng.” Lumipad ang daliri niya sa keyboard. “Ayan, okay na. Magre-render muna ako bago ninyo ma-view.” Pumikit si Jobuks sa pagod.

Alam ni Jeng na matagal na proseso ang pagre-render. Tumayo siya at umunat. “CR muna ako,” tugon niya kay Jobuks.

Lumabas siya sa pintuan ng studio. Sa harap niya, malawak at madilim ang ballroom. Mahina ang nag-iisang bombilyang umiilaw dito. Nagtitipid kasi ang racing club sa kuryente. Naiintindihan naman ni Jeng ang rationale ng cost-cutting. Kaso naman, sambit niya sa sarili, pa’no naman ang mga nag-o-overtime na taga-broadcast?

Sinimulan niyang tahakin ang kalawakan ng ballroom papunta sa ladies’ comfort room sa kabilang dulo. Madilim talaga; mabuti nalang may pumapasok na liwanag mula sa kalsada sa mga bintana. Tuklap na ang karamihan ng wood parquet tiles sa ballroom. Nagdahan-dahan siya ng lakad; baka madapa siya.

Parang mabigat na balabal ang dilim. Habang papalakad siya, tumayo ang kanyang balahibo. Nakaramdam siya ng takot. Para bang may nagmamasid sa kanya. Nagbabantay. Nanonood. Binilisan niya ang galaw, halos tumatakbo na siya hanggang sa makarating sa banyo, binuksan ang pinto, at iniswitch ang ilaw.

Malaki ang banyo ng babae sa karerahan. Pink ang tiles na maliliit, mga one-inch square, yung uso noong araw pa. Medyo nabawasan ang takot niya dahil may ilaw na. Ngunit hindi pa rin niya matanggal ang pakiramdam ng pangamba.

Pumasok siya sa isang stall. Ginamit ang toilet. Nakapagflush na siya nang may amoy na kumiliti sa kanyang ilong.

Mabahong amoy. Parang nabubulok na karne.

Nag-freeze ang kanyang daliri sa zipper ng pantalon. Lumakas lalo ang amoy at naging mas masangsang ito. Para nang naagnas na laman at dugo. Halos masuka siya sa baho. Dali-dali niyang sinara ang kanyang pantalon. Nanlalamig na ang kanyang kamay at kumakalabog na ang puso sa takot.

Paglabas niya ng stall, wala naman siyang nakita, pero naroon pa rin ang amoy. Pinilit ni Jeng na pakalmahin ang sarili. Baka naman galing lang sa lumang drainage ang amoy.

Nag-hugas ng kamay si Jeng sa lababo, at tiningnan ang mukha sa salamin. Putlang-putla siya. Pinikit niya ang kanyang mga mata at naghilamos.

Pagbukas ng kanyang mata, pagtitig niya uli sa salamin, may matandang lalaking nakatayo sa likod niya.

Payat ito na maliit ang katawan. Inisip ni Jeng sa sarili, para siyang retired na hinete sa liit at pispis ng kanyang katawan. Naka-short sleeved polo shirt na kulay light blue at pantalon na dark blue.

Ngunit paano siya napunta roon sa iglap ng kisapmata! Sumisigaw ang buong utak ni Jeng, “Takbooo!” ngunit hindi siya makagalaw o makaimik. Hindi niya mai-alis ang tingin sa salamin sa lalaking nasa likod niya.

Nanlilisik ang mga mata nito. Galing sa kanyang katawan ang masangsang na amoy. Biglang tumulo ang dugo mula sa kanyang mata at bibig, at umungol siya. “Ikaaaaw…ikaw ang hinihintay ko…” Itinaas niya ang kanyang kamay at ipinatong sa balikat ni Jeng. Mabigat, malamig, at mabaho ang kamay. Parang galing sa ilalim ng hukay.

Doon biglang sumigaw si Jeng at tumakbo. Kumaripas siya sa kahoy na tiles ng madilim na ballroom, ngunit hinahabol siya ng masangsang na amoy at para bang may mabahong hiningang bumabalot sa kanyang leeg. Malapit na siya sa pintuan ng control room nang makaramdam ng kalabit sa balikat at parang hinihila siya sa kanyang t-shirt.

Umiiyak na si Jeng at nanlalambot na sa takot ang buong katawan. Nanginginig ang kamay nang binuksan ang pintuan ng control room, at ini-lock ito agad. Humahagulgol siyang tumakbo sa kabilang pader ng kuwarto at sumubsob soon, nagsisisigaw at nagluluha.

Gulat na gulat si Jobuks sa kaanyuan ni Jeng. “Ma’m Jeng, ano’ng nangyari?” Hinawakan niya ang kamay ni Jeng upang kumalma ito. Kinuwento ni Jeng ang nangyari, panay pa rin ang iyak at hikbi. Tiningnan nila ang kanyang balikat; sa kanyang t-shirt – ito’y may mantsa ng dugo na hugis kamay.

Nagtaka si Jeng noong hindi nagpakita ng sorpresa si Jobuks sa kuwento niya. Ang sagot lang nito sa kanya ay, “Sa susunod, sasamahan ko na kayo; hihintayin ko kayo sa labas ng CR.” Bakat sa mukha ni Jobuks na nagkaroon din siya ng parehong.karanasan.

Noong sumunod na araw nagtanong si Jeng sa mga taga-karera at nalaman na, maraming taon nang nakalipas, may matanda raw na karerista na nahuli ang batam-batang asawa na may kahalikan na trainer ng kabayo sa ladies’ CR na iyon. Sa galit niya, papatayin niya sana ang babae ngunit inatake siya sa puso at namatay rin ng oras na iyon.

Ayon sa kuwento, doon na raw sa ladies’ CR nagtigil ang kaluluwa ng matanda, hinihintay na bumalik ang kanyang taksil na asawa upang makapaghiganti rito.

Nagtirik si Jeng ng kandila sa banyo, nagdasal, at kailan man ay hindi na niya ginamit ang CR na iyon. ***

Ang orihinal na larawan ay mula rito; nilagyan ko nalang ng effects.

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my fiction: freek (a drabble)

A drabble is a very short story exactly one hundred words long. Wikipedia says its purpose “is brevity and to test the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.” Drabble contests set a theme for the participants and a certain amount of time to write.

I set this drabble at the racetrack and finished it in five minutes or so. Try your hand at it; it’s easy, fun, and addictive!

FREEK

Image here.

The gates sprang back for the year’s biggest race. They were off! Nightshade, the huge chestnut mare, jumped out of the last stall and took the lead. As the nine-horse field galloped down the straight, Nightshade’s jockey, Freek, rode her hard with his callused hands.

At the home stretch, still lengths ahead of the panting opposition and a mere hundred meters from the wire, he reached for his whip and found – nothing. He had left it behind! Cursing mightily, he knew there was only one thing to do – go back for it.

Freek was never given another ride after that.

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my fiction: aloysia’s story

I began this science fiction snippet on 11 March 1988 then got stuck. It is untitled and unfinished. It’s really immature but I’m just amazed that I was capable of this kind of output. It’s a mish-mash of the tons of SF and F fiction crammed into my head, practically the only stuff I read from high school to college.

I cringe now at the heavy use of adverbs, soundly condemned (and rightly too) by Stephen King in his treatise “On Writing.” I also overused ellipses. As the eminent Victorian academic and short story writer Montague R. James said, “They are often considered a substitute for good writing. Let us have a few more…”

Art: “Cyber”, by A. Langnickel.

ALOYSIA’S STORY

She stood in the glass cage that was her home, by the window that gave out onto emptiness. She was alone; but that was nothing new to her. For half a centad she had been imprisoned in the Crystal Cave, on orders of the Council of Three.

Imprisoned for a crime she did not remember having committed.

Five decads ago she was Aloysia van der Han, much-lauded temporal scientist, mother of two, wife of a Councilor, Alexei Morgan, They were all happy; and as an individual, too, she felt fulfilled. Until one day…

Alexei had told her many times that he loved her. With affection in his eyes he told her many time how much she meant to him, while touching her with gentle hands that caressed all the right places. She believed him, of course; she had no reason not to do so. So it was a genuine shock for her to find him one afternoon in a close coital embrace with Sharna al-Huseyn, another Councilor. Sharna of the long dark hair and red lips! Aloysia fainted.

She came to in a Securitycell, the white wall reflecting the glare of high-powered lightlamps. Enforcers, in their distinctive crimson and black uniforms, were ranged about her. When they saw that she had awakened, a high-ranking Enforcer – the only one with gold braid on his sleeves – approached her and in ungentle tones told her that Alexei and Sharna had been found beside her in a little room. Horribly mutilated. Horribly dead.

Aloysia blinked uncomprehendingly. “Dead – but who – how…?” she muttered. “No one else was in the room but yourself, Doctor van der Han,” said the Enforcer. “And the – er – delicate situation in which we found the two Councilors suggests that you may – er – have had a hand in their demise.” “Are you saying that I…” Aloysia’s voice was rising to a shriek. “I admit I found them together, but the last thing I remember is… is blacking out. I came to here,” insisted Aloysia. The Enforcer stared at her. “You will be subjected to a mental probe.” “On whose authorization?” queried Aloysia tremulously. “On that of the Council of Fi – Three, now,” said the Enforcer.

Despite her high reputation as an individual and as a scientist, Aloysia still had to undergo the psychoprobe. The results showed that it was indeed she who had slain the two – with Alexei’s blaster that he always carried about with him. The mutilations were done by her with Sharna’s needle dagger. Only one decision could be made.

In a High Tribunal Court, the Council of Three – lately the Council of Five – condemned Aloysia van der Han, violator and despoiler of two human lives, to incarceration in the Crystal Cave for half a centad. Hearing the awful sentence, Aloysia screamed.

Her imprisonment was almost over, she thought tiredly. Fifty years of solitude would soon end. But she had nothing to look forward to. Her children would have their own lives. Her work – after all this time, she could not return to it. Too many advances had been made that she could not keep up with. It would be better, she thought, if I were never to leave here. To stay in a crystal cage forever. (to be continued)

I actually ended with that – “to be continued”.

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my fiction: the cups

Here’s a story I wrote way back 6 April 1988 for a Creative Writing class at the University of the Philippines. In 1991, I entered it into a short story writing contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine and Clover typewriters. This story was one of the finalists. Because my story placed, I was invited by Woman’s Day publisher Solar Books to submit a romance novel, published in 1993 as “Fire and Ice”.

Wedgewood jasperware cup. Image here.

THE CUPS

They were sitting at the table, the old man and the elderly woman. His sparse gray hair, like moss on polished wood, contrasted with hers, egg-shell white. Lines of age wove a net of time across their faces; the lips were dry and faded, the lashes brittle, the eyes dead.

They were drinking thick native barako coffee from the gilded Wedgewood teacups that they used only for special occasions.

“When — what time is it happening?” she asked, a slight tremor in her voice. “The radio said six o’clock,” he replied calmly. “It’s already a quarter to six.”

They were afraid, these two, but resigned. Years of weary effort had ingrained in them an acceptance of the inevitable, but had not wholly dulled their emotions. But of what use was hysteria at such a time? They knew better. And found comfort in each other, at the last.

“Only two more minutes, dear,” he breathed. “I–I want you to know — I’m happy here right now, with you.” She smiled, the movement drawing her cheeks back. “I am too. Thank you.” One glance at each other. The years, the memories, slipped by.

They lifted their cups, and sipped.

At that exact moment, twenty miles away, a one-megaton nuclear warhead exploded, spewing deadly radiation, instantly killing all life within a hundred-mile radius.

The teacups fell to the floor, and shattered.

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