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This premiere issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos, and Vietnam.

Inside these pages, you’ll find: a young Laotian journalist’s place in the sensationalist future of news reporting from award-winner Paolo Bacigalupi; a post-apocalyptic Manila from Kate Osias; a utopian Kuala Lumpur from Zen Cho; a haunting military excursion down the Yellow River from Elka Ray Nguyen; speculative poetry from Chris Mooney-Singh, Ang Si Min, and Bryan Thao Worra; and an unusual exploration of Philippine magic systems from Paolo Chikiamco.

104 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2013

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About the author

Jason Erik Lundberg

71 books152 followers
Jason Erik Lundberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has lived in Singapore since 2007. His latest publications are his first novel (and 25th book), A Fickle and Restless Weapon (2020), a related novella, Diary of One Who Disappeared (2019, recipient of a 2013 Creation Grant from Singapore's National Arts Council), and a "greatest hits" short fiction collection, Most Excellent and Lamentable: Selected Stories (2019).

He is also the author of many books for adults—including Red Dot Irreal (2011), The Alchemy of Happiness (2012), Strange Mammals (2013), and Embracing the Strange (2013); books for children—the six-book Bo Bo and Cha Cha picture book series (2012–2015) and Carol the Coral (2016); and more than a hundred short stories, articles, and book reviews. His writing has been translated into half a dozen languages, and seen publication in venues such as Mānoa, the Raleigh News & Observer, Farrago’s Wainscot, Hot Metal Bridge, Strange Horizons, Subterranean Magazine, The Third Alternative, Electric Velocipede, and many other places. His work has also been shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award, Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction, SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Award, and POPULAR Readers’ Choice Award; he was honourably mentioned twice in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.

Lundberg has been the fiction editor at Epigram Books since 2012, where he jump-started the publisher's fiction line; many of the books he's edited since have won multiple national awards, and made various year’s best lists. He has also served as a prose mentor with Singapore's Creative Arts Programme and Ceriph Mentorship Programme. In addition, he is the founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction (2012–2018), series editor for the biennial Best New Singaporean Short Stories anthology series (est. 2013), editor of Fish Eats Lion Redux (2022) and Fish Eats Lion (2012), and co-editor of A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (2008) and Scattered, Covered, Smothered (2004). From 2005–2008, he facilitated an occasional podcast called Lies and Little Deaths: A Virtual Anthology.

An active member in PEN America and a 2002 graduate of the prestigious Clarion Writers Workshop, Lundberg holds a Master's degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University, and was a 2023 International Writer-in-Residence at the Toji Cultural Foundation Residency Program in South Korea.

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5 stars
7 (16%)
4 stars
23 (54%)
3 stars
5 (11%)
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5 (11%)
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2 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Tyrannosaurus regina.
1,018 reviews19 followers
May 12, 2014
I thought I was going to pick this up and read a story or two and instead I blew off everything else I was doing and read the issue cover to cover. I'd love to be able to pick out a favourite story and talk about it but there wasn't anything here I didn't like, there wasn't anything that didn't make me think or see the speculative possibilities outside my own small sphere of experience. Oh, the stories, the wonderful stories.
Profile Image for Benjamin.
37 reviews5 followers
January 13, 2014
I have to admit I skipped the stories I didn't find so interesting and all the poems. But there are some amazing gems of Southeast Asian speculative fiction here. My personal favourite is The Gambler by Paolo Bacigalupi - as someone with some acquaintance with Lao culture and my own interest in environmental interest stories I could empathise with the struggles of a Lao reporter in modern American media.

The other story I liked was Zen Cho's Love In The Time Of Utopia, set in a future Malaysia. It's refreshing to read regionally inspired science fiction and it makes me feel like coming up with some of my own.
Profile Image for Tanushri Saha.
32 reviews28 followers
February 23, 2020
Discovering Lontar a few years back at Gerak Budaya in Penang has been a true life blessing. I am reading these in a very non-linear way and only just coming around to #1 after maybe 2 years because I started with the ones with the cover designs I was most drawn to bc I can't help myself and I am a bad nerd (and the graphics really are so, so beautiful). The journal is so consistently edited generally speaking, and this edition is no exception. My favourite pieces were Departures by Kate Osias, and The Gambler by Paolo Bacigalupi but tbh I really liked most of them. South-East Asian speculative fiction scene is super, super impressive.
Profile Image for Sara J. (kefuwa).
514 reviews43 followers
December 4, 2019
A collection of South East Asian speculative fiction & poetry.

I was delighted with the Zen Cho story and piqued by the Bacigalupi ones.

Skipped the poetry as I wasn't in the right mind for it.

As a whole it was quite an interesting issue... moving on to next 4 issues... and will probably go on to get the remaining 5 afterwards.

source: weightlessbooks.com
first read: 3dec2019
Profile Image for Adan.
Author 26 books20 followers
September 7, 2015
A fantastic first issue of Southeast Asian speculative fiction full of Filipino magic, Vietnamese ghost stories, Laotian gamblers, Malaysian lovers, and Indonesian dragons. I'm not sure why it took me so long to finish (I may have been intimidated by the poetry), but I'm glad I finally did :D
Profile Image for Rick Silva.
Author 10 books69 followers
March 29, 2017
This is the debut issue of Lontar, a magazine of speculative fiction from and about Southeast Asia (the countries it lists as its focus are the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos, and Vietnam).

The journal contains four short stories, three poems, and an article on magical beliefs and traditions in the Philippines.

I enjoyed everything here. The opening story by Kate Osias presents a unique vision of a postapocalyptic Manila inhabited by the shades of those who died in a supernatural calamity.

This was followed up by story by Zen Cho set in a pleasantly utopian future Malaysia, one where affability is enforced by a rigid system of controls and the lines between utopia and dystopia become blurrier as love becomes part of the equation.

Elka Ray Nguyen's contribution is a straight-up horror story set in rural Vietnam, which was especially interesting for me because I am familiar with the author through the childrens picture books she has written, and this was a very different (and very effective) style.

The last story was Paolo Bacigalupi's The Gambler, which focused on the near-future of the news media with a reporter living in exile from an oppressive regime that has plunged Laos into isolation. I was introduced to Bacigalupi's work last year when I read The Windup Girl, and this shared some themes, but help up very nicely on its own, and its grim prediction of where the news industry is heading felt spot-on prophetic.

The poetry was also enjoyable, and the piece on magic in the Philippines had a clever approach, formatted as a course catalogue for a fictional school of magic.

All in all a very enjoyable collection, with some extra appeal to me with my own connections to Southeast Asia.
Profile Image for Joy.
255 reviews20 followers
June 12, 2016
The LONTAR collection of short stories was something I just stumbled upon. And I’m so glad I did. It’s a collection of Southeast Asian speculative fiction from Southeast Asian authors. Too often when I read something for this challenge, it’s written by an American or Brit with an American or British main character that travels to somewhere exotic. It’s almost always an "outsider looking in” perspective. Sometimes I really enjoy that kind of writing. But sometimes, I want to read something local and authentic from the culture. That’s why I loved finding the LONTAR journals. I live in Southeast Asia and I love dystopian, kinda weird fiction. And I really enjoyed this collection! From short narratives to poetic verse and even a creative course catalog description for a major in Philippine magic, these stories were full of creativity. In addition to the well written course catalog, I also enjoyed the dystopian love story from Malaysia and the combat story from Vietnam. Each of these were so unique, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of these collections. I found the first two volumes on Amazon in a Kindle edition, but when I was in Singapore, I found them in print at the Books Actually shop, which is the publisher. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, check out this collection immediately!
Profile Image for Pearse Anderson.
Author 5 books33 followers
April 18, 2017
The Gambler was a great tale, but of course Bacigalupi pulled it off, riding that Pump Six wave. Overall, I love Lundberg's project here. Southeast Asian speculative fiction deserves its own study, magazines, mythos. But I didn't love this issue. The pieces did not feel as coherent (incoherent != experimental) as I think they should have been. I know if I was a citizen of Kuala Lumpar or Jakarta or Manila I would get more out of them, but should such a broad magazine attempt to write only to a local audience? I don't think that's Lontar's intention, yet I came away from most of the collection feeling like that was the case. I will start issue two soon, so I'm excited to see if the stories build on each other and if I care about the included prose poems. This is by no means bad SEA SFF, like the majority of Flesh/Heat/Trash, but I'm not drawn to it.
Profile Image for Letitia.
307 reviews59 followers
December 11, 2018
Departures: 3 stars
Love the idea of this fantastical ghost world but it is painted too thinly. Main theme of this story is memory and identity.

Love in the time of Utopia: 3 stars
Typical Zen Cho style: cute little story with an overly neat Dickensian ending.

Philippine Magic: A Course Catalogue: 5 stars
This is the coolest thing ever.

Jayawarman 9th Remembers the Dragon Archipelago: 4 stars
This poem was much better than I expected it to be. Gorgeous imagery.

The Immortal Pharmacist: 4 stars

Stainless Steel Nak: 2 stars

The Yellow River: 4 stars
My favourite story in the collection, not counting "Catalogue" as a story.

The Gambler: 3.5 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Jericho Eames.
389 reviews
August 31, 2016
I didn't know how futile Asia is for speculative fiction. I love the course notes of Philippine magic, it was such a refreshing way to present a narrative.
5 reviews5 followers
April 4, 2019
The first few stories weren’t really my cup of tea, but the last two were some of the most interesting things I’ve read in a long time.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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