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Fantasy and Science Fiction in Southeast Asia


Amitav Ghosh IconRiverrun Trilogy IconPhilippine Speculative Fiction IconThe Windup Girl Icon

Philippine Speculative Fiction

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV
Edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar
Published by Kestrel IMC, 2009

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV collects the best original fantasy, science fiction, horror and more from across the Philippines and around the world, presented by award-winning editors Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar.

This fourth annual volume features stories by: Ronald Cruz, Charles Tan, Jose Elvin Bueno, Kenneth Yu, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Maryanne Moll, Carljoe Javier, Joseph Nacino, Paolo Jose Cruz, Adam David, Erica Gonzales, Anne Lagamayo, Vincent Simbulan, Eliza Victoria, Leo Magno, Noel Tio, Celestine Trinidad, Isabel Yap, Monique Francisco, Kathleen Aton-Osias, Sharmaine Galve, Crystal Gail Shangkuan Koo, Andrew Drilon, and Apol Lejano-Massebieau.

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Riverrun TrilogyRiverrun Trilogy
by S.P. Somtow
Published by White Wolf Publishing, 1996

Once referred to by the International Herald Tribune as ‘the most well-known expatriate Thai in the world,’ Somtow Sucharitkul is no longer an expatriate, since he has returned to Thailand after five decades of wandering the world. He is best known as an award-winning novelist and a composer of operas.

Riverrun is a fascinating escapist ‘dark fantasy’, starring Vampires, Dragons, and the river that runs through the entire Universe, holding together all worlds. Follow the exploits of the Etchison family as their mortal world is rehaped by warring dragon-children under the control of the Darkling King Strang. Within Theo Etchison lies the power of a Turthsayer, a power the Darklings need to dominate the universe. This paperback omnibus includes the entire trilogy: Riverrun, Amorica, and the final book, Yestern.

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Wolf at the DoorWolf at the Door (The Jan Xu Adventures)
by J. Damask
Published by Katarr Kanticles Press, 2011

“In my family, not being able to change into wolf form is not a dark secret nor a physical illness. The ability jumps generations and people who can’t change are not shunned. They are still wolf inside, in their minds, in their instincts.” – Jan Xu

Jan Xu and the Myriad, a group of mythological beings dwelling in both our reality and an alternate dimension, definitely exist, at least. The daughter of the pack leader of the Lang clan, Jan fights alongside her friends, protecting her pack, her children, and the rest of the world from malicious spirits. Damask creates a fine balance between cultural and contemporary – injecting Singaporean influences and background into a contemporary, urban setting, without it making it feel like it’s too much either way.

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The Windup GirlThe Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Published by Night Shade Books, 2010

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko… Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

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Amitav GhoshThe Glass Palace
by Amitav Ghosh
Published by Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002

Though more of a historical fiction, Ghosh’s epic novel of Burma and Malaya over a span of 115 years is the kind of “sweep of history” that readers can appreciateDeven loveDdespite its demands. There is almost too much here for one book, as over the years the lives and deaths of principal characters go flying by. Yet Ghosh (The Calcutta Chromosome; Shadow Lines) is a beguiling and endlessly resourceful storyteller, and he boasts one of the most arresting openings in recent fiction: in the marketplace of Mandalay, only the 11-year-old Indian boy Rajkumar recognizes the booming sounds beyond the curve of the river as English cannon fire. The year is 1885, and the British have used a trade dispute to justify the invasion and seizure of Burma’s capital. As a crowd of looters pours into the fabled Glass Palace, the dazzling throne room of the nine-roofed golden spire that was the great hti of Burma’s kings, Rajkumar catches sight of Dolly, then only 10, nursemaid to the Second Princess. Rajkumar carries the memory of their brief meeting through the years to come, while he rises to fame and riches in the teak trade and Dolly travels into exile to India with King Thebaw, Burma’s last king; Queen Supayalat; and their three daughters. The story of the exiled king and his family in Ratnagiri, a sleepy port town south of Bombay, is worth a novel in itself, and the first two of the story’s seven parts, which relate that history and Rajkumar’s rise to wealth in Burma’s teak forests, are marvelously told. Inspired by tales handed down to him by his father and uncle, Ghosh vividly brings to life the history of Burma and Malaya over a century of momentous change in this teeming, multigenerational saga.

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