Philippine Speculative Fiction 6, editors Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias

Something peculiar happens to stories when they are housed in the same anthology, especially when an overarching theme or rubric comes into play. Aside from the sensibilities of the editors informing the curation process, the stories themselves cease to become autonomous units of narrative. Difference in writing styles become sharper by contrast, premises are either reinforced or disputed by the stories that come before or after it.

In Philippine Speculative Fiction Anthology Volume 6, editors Nikki Alfar and Kate Aton-Osias continue the annual tradition of gathering short fiction in with a speculative vein, with works of publishing newbies mingling with those by seasoned, award-winning authors. Kapres, supervillains, galactic warship captains, and (alleged) cannibals are among the archetypal characters featured this time around. The stories that stand out for me explore the unease that is often overshadowed or glossed over by the flashier aspects of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.

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Day 17 – The virtue of the 2nd person POV

Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

Why yes, we’re still doing this meme. I first encountered Lorrie Moore’s story “How to Become a Writer” in college while reading through a book about writing. I can’t remember the kind of advice that book actually gave me but using this example makes me eternally grateful for it. The second person POV is largely considered a deadly choice for many fiction writers but the conceit used by Moore to carry the story simply blew me away.

Self-Help focuses on largely female protagonists who are floundering about in their relationships. A couple of stories deal with familial strain, while one standout story talks about an extramarital affair through the lens of the other woman. There’s a lot of humor in Moore’s narrative voice, but almost all of them are tinged with a kind of inescapable tragedy, like it’s simply a requisite for someone living a life. I haven’t encountered any of her other books yet, but this one has become almost iconic for me.

Honorable mentions: The Kite of Stars by Dean Francis Alfar and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.