It’s Another Year Of…

I actually wanted to write an end-of-the-year post around December 2021, but it was winter break and I was regularly raging against the snow (very pretty for the first ten minutes, and then ongoing misery for the next three months) and the world continues to fall apart at the seams, and so my brain simply decided to shut down and play video games for most of the winter break (hello Civ VI).

Anyway, just a quick life update: I’m now in the Spring Semester of my first full year as a PhD student and I’m coming apart as the world decides to move along the inevitable march to total annihilation. Unfortunately, I still have to think about deadlines and proposals and project reports even though a small voice inside my head is continuously wondering if the PhD journey is worth pursuing anymore because we’re all teetering on the edge of World War 3 anyway. Also, despite this sorry state of the world, I do have a couple of bright spots to look forward to.

Almost-final cover of my second collection of short stories. Design by the fantastic Jordan Santos.

First, my second collection of short stories is about to come out from the University of the Philippines Press. As soon as Instructions on How to Disappear (which has, sadly, disappeared from circulation since our publisher shut down) came out in 2016, I began putting together my second collection, which I initially submitted to UP Press in 2019. It was accepted by the reviewers and we were supposed to start working on it when – as you know – a little thing called a worldwide pandemic happened, which shut down almost everything, including work on my book. We got back on track in late 2020 with the editing and proofreading and layout, and then another year passed by before the cover design got finalized into what we have here. I’m very, very excited about this collection, which I think represents more of how I write now, as opposed to Instructions, which was very much a collection that represented my collegiate/post-college explorations of the SF space. I think I’m a more mature storyteller here, and I’m still definitely figuring things out but at least I was certain that some of the stories I wanted to write are blueprints of concepts and ideas that I’m excited to explore in the future.

Almost-final cover design of Mapping New Stars, illustrated by the wonderful Hans Dimapilis.

Another exciting thing is that our little project, Mapping New Stars: A Sourcebook on Philippine Speculative Fiction was accepted for publication by UP Press as well! This project was a labor of love between myself and the editorial team: Anna and our managing editor, Sydney, and generously supported by a grant from our university. We wanted to create an anthology that might kickstart the conversation on Philippine speculative fiction (in English, mostly, although we also problematize the term sapantaha and how it intersects with the speculative imagination) as well as serve as a writing book for those who want to start writing SF but didn’t have access to teachers or classrooms. Though we still need to work on polishing and editing and all the other fun stuff that book production does, we’re very excited about diving into the work for this volume as well and hope that it can get on bookshelves by next year.

Aside from that, I’m really just trying to rediscover my writing voice, and figuring out what kind of work I can do that can be beneficial to a lot of people: writers, readers, students, people who still look to words as a way of negotiating hope, which seems in short supply these days.

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