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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

entry arrow8:37 PM | Thoughts About the Aftermath

The one thing that both frightens and amuses me about the aftermath of the Fully Booked contest is the level of passionate reviews and debates -- some bordering on the ridiculous and the offensive (Dean even managed to get a troll!) -- it has generated. People should have seen Michael Co and I after the awards were handed out: there was instant brotherhood there. I can truly say "The God Equation" was a great, great story, and I am honored to share the top prize with Mike. Scrawling the Net from one link to the next, I've been breathing in all the suggestions and criticism -- for example, to trim down "A Strange Map of Time" (advise which is right on track: I know "Map" can be a shorter story, but deadline for the contest was fast approaching, and I was already exhausted from excising ten pages from the whole thing -- can you imagine subplots involving mestizo serial killers and Japanese soldiers surrendering to the Americans in the hills of Dauin during World War II?), to edit the jumbled tenses in the latter parts of the story (sorry for that: finishing the story in time was the worst kind of rush), and to eliminate all the hokey elements (even I found "hoverjeepneys" hilarious).

It was a difficult story to write, with elements all jumbled together during the worst of the editing process, so what I find most amusing is the comment that it was too "perfectly laid out."

Most of the story was inspired by the narrative elements in Carl Sagan's Contact, Dean Alfar's "L'Aquilone du Estrellas," Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Caridad Aldecoa Rodriguez's Negros Oriental and the Philippine Revolution, and Rosario Cruz Lucero's "The Death of Fray Salvador Montano, Conquistador of Negros" and "Writing to the Music of Pestle-on-Mortar." I knew I wanted to write about Negrense history, and I knew there was going to be some time travel element involved. I knew that I was exhausted from writing futuristic scifi (yes, I write scifi), and I knew that the best way to write the story was in terms of Joaquinesque literary language (yes, I know how to write in a minimalist manner, too: read "Old Movies"). I knew I would not write it in any specific style -- it had to be slipstream. But the strangest comment I ever got about winning the Neil Gaiman contest was that I was not a "genre" writer.

And here I am thinking that it was unfair that the literary establishment tend to form suspect dichotomies, usually between "high literature" and "genre literature." And here I am thinking I've been fighting against such distinctions my whole life, even resorting to teaching speculative fiction and comics in my Philippine literature classes. Only to find out there's a kind of reverse snobbery out there pala. Just because I won the Palanca once upon a time does not make me a "literary" writer through-and-through. Just because I once won the Special Prize for the NVM Gonzalez Award does not make a fullfledged realist. You should read some of my weirder stories. About talking monkeys. And ghost nurses. And trees that gobble the wind.

But I'll take the bait and the challenge: I am going to write another short story (not more than 5,000 words) in full speculative mode, complete with new worlds, maybe even new languages. Give me six months. Let's see what we can do with this.

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