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Last challenge of speculative fiction a becoming swansong, Arts News & Top Stories



Edited by Jason Erik Lundberg Epigram Books/ Paperback/280 pages/ $20.22/ Books Kinokuniya

three.5 stars

Like a sampler platter designed to enchantment to all style buds, this newest and final challenge of Lontar accommodates one thing for everybody.

In its pages, readers will discover brief tales, poetry and even a stunning full-colour comedian illustrated by Eisner-nominated artist Drewscape.

The bumper challenge is a becoming swansong for Lontar, the world’s solely biannual journal of South-east Asian speculative fiction, which was based in 2012.

Its contributors – who embody names acquainted to readers of Singlit comparable to Cyril Wong and Kevin Martens Wong – have all the time sought to reply the identical primary query: What if?

But because the reader will discover on this anthology of 25 works, every writer’s tackle that query is wildly totally different.

Some, comparable to Manish Melwani in his spin on the Sang Nila Utama delusion, delve into South-east Asian historical past, superstition and people faith.

Others discover the ramifications of a dystopian future, when humanity resides in bunkers underground or the wreckage of skyscrapers.

There are additionally tales that infuse prosaic actuality with a contact of the magical, comparable to Topaz Winters’ Flight, wherein the palms of a gifted younger girl convey origami paper cranes to life.

Another stand-out: The delightfully tongue-in-cheek Toader by Marylyn Tan and Graeme Ford, a few Tinder spin-off for Lovecraftian horrors from an alternate dimension.

“After a long bout of cryptic messages and slight, feverish flirtations in the Toader chat, you met up, carapaces excitably crawling with parasites,” reads the beginning of 1 vignette.

There are additionally some recent concepts to be found. Patricia Karunungan’s Agatha – about how the terminally in poor health are getting used as repositories for recollections – is especially intriguing.

Unfortunately, this anthology is just not solely freed from drained fictional tropes, which detract from the attraction of sure tales. Some authors additionally come throughout as considerably heavy-handed in attempting to get their level throughout.

Even so, it’s uncommon to seek out such a various array of speculative fiction with a South-east Asian twist. Lontar can be missed.

If you want this, learn: BooksReally’s Gold Standard 2016 edited by Julie Koh (Math Paper Press, 2016, $22, BooksReally). The anthology of brief tales brings collectively the work of writers from throughout East and South-east Asia.

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