Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Probable Story Entries

Aiyeee!!! The deadline for the Philippine Speculative Fiction V looms near, and I'm at a lost on which story to concentrate upon, finish, polish and send it in time for the deadline. Right now I'm looking at three stories, each as different from other.

The first one is a post apocalyptic Earth, with the tragedy and destruction of Haley's comet changed the face of mankind forever. The following is the rough prologue I've done.

Manila 2045. Forty years have past since the comet 1P/Halley, more commonly known as Halley’s Comet, has plunged directly towards Earth. But instead of the destruction of the planet, the comet exploded in the stratosphere, sending billions of radioactive particles that changed the face of mankind forever. Roughly 60% of humanity perished in the aftermath, dead from radiation poisoning. Others survived, and tried to regain their former lives. Most however, were changed. Haleys they were called, after the comet. Mostly human looking but at the same time not really completely, they were able to do things like breath fire, lift massive stones and run faster, things no normal human beings could do.

It was different for every country. The Americans recovered quickly and imposed semi-segregation and the Halley Registration Act, essentially making any Halleys a little less then a citizen, with what’s left of the military enforcing the law. China saw the potential and began utilizing the Haleys into their military, as with Russia. Those who joined the European Confederation like Britain and France were largely left alone, but were watched very carefully. Meanwhile those in the Middle East were persecuted and stoned publicly, leaving most of the Haleys hiding in fear.

In the Philippines, things were more or less the same. The Halleys were at first segregated like the Americans did, but with it’s Catholic upbringing the Filipino gradually accepted the Haleys, and they became citizens like any other Filipino, but without one important right. They cannot run for any government office. The Halleys grumbled, but they see this as a small price to pay for equal standing. And so both the Halleys and the Normals live peaceful lives, more or less….

I like apocalyptic worlds, especially one that shows how the world copes with the disaster, not just one country. I was planning to do a short story about a Halley bounty hunter, then if time permits plan to do a whole novel (perhaps a trilogy? Now more wishful thinking) that will culminate on 2061.

As a fan of supernatural fiction (read: Cthulhu, Hellboy, Dr. Strange etc.) I always wanted to do story about a Filipino warrior battling home grown demons the likes of Aswangs, Tikbalangs and Kapre. Here's the second story I was planning to finish for the longest time, but seem to get stuck in a rut. Here's an excerpt:

Father Evan looked at the old house and shivered. The place was rickety and, even though the priest was a good fifty feet away, smelled strongly of incense, blood and other stuff Evan didn’t want to think about. He turned to his companion, noting his expression. The man beside the priest was taller by a foot or so, and had muscles that could only be achieved by regularly doing heavy work. Heavy work, thought Evan, smiling bitterly. Now’s that’s an understatement.

The big man beside the priest stooped down, ran his hand over the soil and smelled the dirt between his fingers. He grunted as he confirmed what his hunch was all along, that he didn’t really need to smell the ground to find out if that there was death written all over them. Then his eyes shifted over the left catching a telltale piece of evidence that told him tonight’s special guest. He reached out and took it, gingerly rolling it over his hand.

“What you got there?” asked Evan.

The big man took a closer at the item. “Spoor” he replied. “Tonight we have kapres for our guests.” He threw the stub of cigar over his shoulder. “Three or four. Perhaps five.”

Evan grimaced between his usually cynical mask. One kapre is bad enough, but a group of four or five tends to put them at a slight disadvantage.

“What would think they’d be doing now?’ asked the priest quietly.

The man looked at the evening sky, and judged the time. “At this close to sunrise, either getting ready to sleep or lazing it off. That mean’s they’re not likely awake enough to respond quickly if we take them now. That gives us an advantage.” He flex his muscles, shaking out some kinks from a long day. “Time for some fun, priest” he grinned, his white teeth and open smile betrayed his anticipation for tonight’s work.

“Oh God, don’t tell we’re just going to barge in? Why can’t we have a plan? Why don’t I plan this time around?” the priest said plaintively.

“The simple plans are the best ones, and unlike you, I’ve been trained for this for a long time, so I know what I’m doing” said the man.

“You call barging straight in shooting and chopping everything that moves one of the best plans?” muttered Evan.

“Surprise and speed, my friend, surprise and speed. Let’s go.” So saying, the man walked quietly towards the front door, motioning for the priest to follow.

“This is going to be like that one in Dapitan all over again.” Evan sighed, consigned his soul to God, and followed the big man.

Finally, the last story is one of the oldest, more than a year ago. I was going to do this for Nanowrimo, but due to my wedding and other things that got in the way, never got to finish writing it. During my elementary years I grew up with Hardy Boys (and Bobbsey Twins ... yes I hear what you're thinking). By the time I got to high school, I was a mystery buff, devouring Sherlock Holmes and other incidental detective stories. Probably the weakest excerpt since it handles a lot of details beforehand. The scene is that the detectives have found the body, and are in the midst of the investigation when somebody arrived...

Henry has been reading some of the diagrams and descriptions when he noticed someone going in the house. He looked into the eyes of a tall man, surprised probably that Henry was inside.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?”, the mans asked.

Inigo straightened up. “My name is Detective Lazaro. Do you live here?”

“Yes”, the man replied.

“May I ask where have you been?”, the detective asked.

“I was out eating. I get the munchies sometimes when it’s early morning.”

“Oh? And why were you awake this hour?”

“Well. Like I said, I was out buying some munchies. I’m a writer you see. Ever read the Hours of Midnight? One of the my greatest stories.”

Inigo definitely heard about the Hours of Midnight. Publicly ridiculed by the literary public, it was denounced as one of the countries’ absurd stories. It was wrong move by the publishing company, going all out with banners, flyers and TV spots. It went well for week, then skyrocketed down as the most useless thing money can buy, except perhaps used as a bathroom material. Inigo read the first few chapters of the book, then chucked it across the room and wondered idly who would write such drivel. In retrospect, Inigo should have given the book to George, perhaps as bathroom material. Now though he was apparently, he was looking at the author.

When Inigo was interrogating the suspect, George was still not moving, his mind taking all the details. Entering the room had been quite a shock. The body had been lying in a small pool blood, which had poured towards the door. The body has been inside a small circle, and judging from crude markings, also inside a star. A pentagram, George thought.

The room was filled with blood. It looks like the victim was slashed from the throat, and from there blood was spilled liberally on the room. The room itself was small, not enough for a man to live comfortably, but good enough to get some rest. And now, the former resident of this room is having his eternal rest. Good line, that one, thought George smiling crookedly. If you’ve seen too many dead bodies, the mind becomes melodramatic and detached. At worst, a pasture for puns.

Looking at the three entries, I think I'm going for the second one . No wait, probably the first. But if I work on the third ....


I'll post again once I get this one finished. Writing Mode on, Thinking Mode recalibrated.

State of Mind: Decisions, decisions.
Song of the Day: Meant to Live by Switchfoot
Book of the Week: Dogsbody by Dianne Wynn Jones
Want/Need: An Ice Cream Fudge Brownie ... I'm Hungry.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Business of Eating

:::Got Food?:::
It's been a very busy week for me. I got called all of a sudden to do interview with very well known chefs in Iloilo for Mezzo Mag. Suffice to say, it is a experience (some bad i.e. like not being prepared enough, and some good because of the stuff I've learned). In any case Chefs Ramlo (who hosts a local TV show) Miguel (of Esca's and Afrique's fame) and Tibong (an Iloilo legend with dozens of recipes in each restaurant, they opened my eyes and let me glimpse into the varied world of being a gourmand and good eating.

Things I learned while doing the interview:

1. Never forget the basic questions. Its a good thing I got their numbers and asked them to send me their resumes.
2. Have a recorder. I thought tapping my laptop keyboard furiously while asking questions would do the trick, but didn't. Well, it almost worked, if I can accept the fact I had to type "shorthand" and had to translate from gibberish.
3. Out of the box questions are the best, as long as it pertains to the matter at hand.

As this was my very first interview, I think I made a good job, and with a very short deadline (actually I had to ask for three extensions) coupled with the regular workload, I think I've cut it very fine.

Find out more at this September issue of Mezzo Mag, the food issue.

:::Best. Movie. Ever:::

Well, not really, but definitely this year's top Sci-Fi film, and I would stand by this when compared to Star Trek and the travesty that is Transformers.

District 9 is a gripping story of a love, hate, racism, greed and terror of the unknown. From the start of the movie, you are starting to feel tension, as if somethings going to happen but you don't know what it is. Then, after the EVENT, you're still in tension but reaching new heights, as you don't know what's going to happen. No spoilers here. But this is the most realistic movie in terms of the human behaviour and its shortcomings. There are no pretty moments, everything is what you see what you get, which is down and dirty.

And the aliens are not the pretty boys like Trek or made of pure awesomeness like the Autobots, they're buglike to the point of being cockroaches. But in the end, they also show us that outer skin is not a judgement for personality, but what's inside that counts.

Watch this movie now. You'll not regret it.

:::In the Line-Up:::

I had chance upon a good selection of books on sale, so once again I'm a happy hamster:

The Dark is Rising, five books for a very good price
Strange Brew, a collection of stories from today's victorian steam-punk writers.
H.G. Wells complete collection, in Hardbound form (woot!)
The Pendragon Cycle: Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur by Stephen Lawhead (very nice)

State of Mind: Recovery Mode
Song of the Day: I'll Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
Book of the Week: Going Postal by Terry Prachett
Want or Need: Path of the Destroyer Cards