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The Best of the Philippine Speculative Fiction: 2005-2010

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Between these covers are the best short stories of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and genres in-between, selected from the first five years of the Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals. Step through the portal and explore worlds old and new and experience the power of the literature of the imagination as crafted by Filipino authors.

361 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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Dean Francis Alfar

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for Led.
113 reviews46 followers
November 15, 2020
Alfar's outstanding The Kite of Stars and Other Stories was the force (spurred by 'add to cart' convenience) that permitted a copy from UP Press to arrive at my door.

Of thoughts in reality, I'm not one to entertain what-if's but it is a different case reading fiction. Anticipating the takes on these 30 SpecFic stories, I expected some to set aswang and encanto loose in the modern world – and it did! Plus more others. A few themes now exploited in screens (consider, stories were published ca. 2005-2010) while several others were arousing, they better be extended narratives.

As stories vary, like flavors suit different palates, here were those that I found affecting in either their theme or writing, or both:

The Sign of the Cross (friars), Six from Downtown (self-preservation; also found in The Kite of Stars), A Retrospective on Disease for Sale (alibis), Keeping Time (dystopia), The Flicker (disappearances), The Sparrows of Climaco Avenue (climate crisis), Sidhi (faith), Just Man (affection; a fascinating finale!)

As the well-written and compelling preface did so accentuate:

"The literature of fantastic existed in these islands, long before the term 'speculative fiction' was used... We are a people of mountain, sky, and sea, and our oldest stories took in elements of the other cultures that came to our shores. We are, and will always be, a nation of story tellers, no strangers to the strangeness that is part and parcel of what it means to live in these islands."
Profile Image for Lew.
15 reviews
August 4, 2017
As a kid, I grew up reading speculative fiction from writers who were predominantly white and European or American-centric: Anne McCaffrey, Agatha Christie, Harry Turtledove, etc. Never did I see characters like myself, a Filipino American, represented in the genres I loved so much.

It's only recently that I've begun to discover Filipino/a and Fil-Am writers who have been blazing trails in western publishing, writers like Alyssa Wong, Isabel Yap, and the famous husband/wife duo of Dean Francis and Nikki Alfar. Dean and Nikki are the ones responsible for creating and editing the fantastic anthology series, Philippine Speculative Fiction, of which this particular book draws its stories from.

And what a wonderful collection Dean and Nikki have curated. This volume has some well-crafted stories from all genres encompassing speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, steam-punk, magical realism, horror, fairy tales, and more. There's something for everyone in this collection, and whether or not you identify as Filipino/a, the stories are accessible and relatable. They explore universal themes: loss, love, survival, success, etc. However, as a Fil-Am, I find them especially exciting and refreshing because I get to finally see my culture represented in genres that I have read since childhood.

While I enjoyed the majority of the stories featured in this anthology, the following were my personal favorites (some of these descriptions are quoted from my personal blog):

"The Secret Origin of Spin-Man" by Andrew Drilon. If you like superheroes, this one’s for you. A pair of young brothers bond over their mutual love of comic books, but then Spin-Man changes everything.

"Keeping Time" by FH Batacan. A strange plague engulfs the world, causing people to slowly starve to death. One man searches for a cure and a reason to keep living.

"The Flicker" by Ian Rosales Casocot. Children in a small town begin to mysteriously disappear. I may have physically quivered while reading this story.

"Parallel" by Eliza Victoria. This may be a “soft” science fiction story about parallel universes and the unbreakable bonds of family, but the ending hits pretty hard.

"Brigada" by Joseph F. Nacino. I love a good adventure story, and this one delivers. There's all kinds of drama on the high seas in this re-imagined world where "The Flood" reduces the Philippines to a boat and flotilla-based country. A navy captain and his crew must work together to thwart a foreign threat with a unique set of weapons.

"Sink" by Isabel Yap. A grieving mother must make a difficult choice. I'm being vague on purpose because this story has an emotional and powerful narrative that needs to be experienced.

"Revenge of the Tiktaks" by Noel Tio. This is a horror story about strange noises that haunt a group of boys at a boarding school, with some surprisingly funny moments.

"The Ascension of Our Lady Boy" by Mia Tijam. The narrator of this story, Lady Boy, shares her struggles on growing up transgender in a family unwilling to accept her gender identity. Lady Boy is outrageous, outspoken, and wonderfully blunt. Tijam uses humor as a tool to expose and dismantle prejudice against the transgender community in the Philippines, making it one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in a while. There’s also an aswang and some subtle magical elements to round it all out. While most of the story is in English, there are a lot of Tagalog words and phrases. If you’re not familiar with the language, Google Translate will be your best friend and help you pick up some of the more crass humor. This is my favorite story in the whole collection, if you couldn't tell by my enthusiastic write-up. :)

Overall, this is an amazing collection of speculative stories from a diverse group of writers who identify as Filipino/a. And thanks to the magic of licensing, this book (as well as all the other volumes of Philippines Speculative Fiction) is now available in the United States in e-book format. Check it out if you get the opportunity. Expand your perceptions on what speculative fiction is and should be.
Profile Image for chynna.
26 reviews
July 24, 2022
Definitely one of the best in the game for speculative fiction. I became interested in SF upon coming across similar authors in the collection during college. SF, in the short story format, can go both ways, really. One: you say “that’s it?”, falling short in the midst of its climax. Two: you say “that’s IT!?”—leaving you wanting for more, or the shock value was above the threshold. The latter is for this anthology 😁

Nikki Alfar wrote in the introduction exactly what I was thinking while reading the stories: “What the hell is this weird author thinking? I love it!” 🤣 You’re really in for a ride, when you read it with an open mind.

Favorite first-read gems: The Sign of the Cross, The Singer’s Man, Carbon, The Ascension of Our Lady Boy, Keeping Time, Frozen Delight, The Flicker, Bearing Fruit, Sidhi, Just Man.
Profile Image for Red.
19 reviews
May 29, 2020
This is a reread from the first time I've read this through.

This was my first official introduction to Philippine Speculative Fiction, not including that discussion we had of it in our literature class.

I bought it initially because of the eye-catching cover, but I'll be rereading it throughout the years because of the stories between the covers.

Definitely one of my favorite anthologies ever.
Profile Image for S.B. Wright.
Author 1 book47 followers
July 12, 2013
A very good collection showcasing the depth and versatility of the Filipino speculative fiction community. My full review will appear in the next issue of International Speculative fiction magazine.
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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