I began reading genre fiction simply to entertain myself. Then, I read it to learn and hone my skills as a fiction writer. You may think that if I’m always on the lookout for new ideas while reading, that it would be impossible for these novels to provide escape. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Good stories give you words, but make you forget the words. All good stories do.
I’ve always enjoyed a good ghost story, whether it be found in a book or via some other medium. I would get terribly sad whenever I missed the Halloween episode of the now defunct Magandang Gabi Bayan (which my siblings and I watched in bed with a blanket around our shoulders – at least the first few iterations of the special, when they were still scary). I also enjoyed reading about different kinds of mental illness, and given my particular affinities, how could I not fall in love with the horror genre, which offered all these and more? I got it into my head that I wanted to write a horror novel, and so I treated every short story and book I read as research, and, more importantly, as a challenge.
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In Bob Neihart’s 2007 interview with Stephen King’s son and best-selling horror writer, Joe Hill, Ben Neihart said, “Hill writes in two traditions that he would argue are artificially walled off from each other: genre fiction, with its emphasis on breakneck, often outrageous, plot and metaphor; and literary realism, which values detailed characterization, psychological depth and subtle epiphanies.”
What an excellent description! And what a description that completely escaped me as a child, a young reader who wasn’t aware of these traditions at all, who knew only to categorize stories as either “good” or “boring”. Back then, all I wanted was to get from Point A to Point B–and to get to Point B fast. Who cares about lovely turns of phrases and language and words, who cares about character development? I only cared about one thing: what’s the plot? Is someone going to end up dead? Is there a lot of gore? Is there a twist? Is there a monster in it? During those early years of my life as a reader, nobody told me what to read. Nobody served as a guide, so I read whatever I found amusing, and I read blindly. Reading then was like walking around a dark house during a thunderstorm, and I believed, in my heart of hearts, that I’d be more excited if I reached out a hand and touched a large, slimy creature, than if I came upon a room within which a young woman sat in silence and mourned the sudden end of her youth. (Unless the sudden end of her youth turned her into a large, slimy creature. Then that would be seriously awesome.)
And so I gravitated toward the plot-driven stories, which turned out to belong to the genre fiction tradition.
Read more here.
Part 2 to follow.
Crossed Genres is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine that “supports equal rights and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or religion”. It releases monthly themed issues, challenging writers to combine that month’s theme genre with science fiction and/or fantasy (hence the name “Crossed Genres”) and has released an anthology called “Year One”, a collection of stories selected from the first twelve issues of the magazine. The theme for May’s Issue 18, the subject of this review, is “Eastern”, broadly defined as any story set in an Eastern culture. Spoiler Warning from here on out, so read the stories for free here (and if you like the issue, donate or buy a downloadable digital copy) then pop on back for the review.
Expanded Horizons, which began publishing stories in 2008, is an online speculative fiction publication that aims to increase diversity in the field, “both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented”. Its specific objectives include increasing the number of women authors in speculative fiction, and increasing authentic ethnic diversity in stories written in this field.
It recently made the longlist of the British Fantasy Awards under the category, “Best Magazine”.
In its latest issue (Issue 18), Expanded Horizons includes stories set in India, Nigeria, the US, and the Philippines, with protagonists ranging from a lonely ghost to a woman who craves human flesh. Here are my impressions of the various stories–obviously, Spoiler Warning applies, so do check out the issue before reading on.
Here is a fact: we will never run out of stories to read.
This is more evident now than it ever has been before. Online speculative fiction publications easily number in the hundreds, including many new publications looking for worthy submissions and just itching to get up and running (e.g. GigaNotoSaurus and Smash Cake Magazine). Just to illustrate: to date, Duotrope lists166 fledgling markets, or those markets with a publication history of less than six months.
Even the Philippines, horribly late in the technological race, generally speaking, has two active online publishing entities: Rocket Kapre, which has published Usok 1 and the charity anthology Ruin and Resolve; and Estranghero Press, which has published the anthologies The Farthest Shore (secondary worlds) and Demons of the New Year (horror). As in the rest of the world, online publications appear to be a growth industry, as evidenced by the upcoming launch of the POC Review (which is not genre-bound) and (a bit farther into the future) the online version of the Philippine Genre Stories.
So: why an online publication?
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I’m no gamer. I don’t have the patience, or the required hand-eye coordination. The simplest challenges frustrate me: You mean I have to go to this room first and get this equipment before I can get that equipment to blast open that door – the hell with this, I’m reading a book. I’ve given up on Chrono Cross (too convoluted), Suikoden, Left4Dead (I can’t figure out how to pick up the guns, so I gave up before I could even shoot a zombie), and Resident Evil (too scary; there was one point during the game when a huge crowd of zombies burst through a door – in real life, I threw away my controller). My default gaming strategy, it appears, is that if I can’t get it right the first time, then it probably isn’t worth it. (I don’t apply this to real-life problems, like clothes shopping.)
Then I met my boyfriend, who’s a proud member of the Hobby Gamers’ Circle, a gaming organization based in UP Diliman, a group of like-minded individuals who’d probably throw me down a pit should they ever read this piece of blasphemy.
Read more here.