LONTAR #6 now available in print and ebook!


LONTAR #6LONTAR issue #6 is now officially available in both its print and ebook versions!

The print issue should be on bookstore shelves all over Singapore, but I know for sure that it’s at Kinokuniya (even if it’s not on their webstore yet); if your favourite bookshop doesn’t have it in stock, ask them to order it!

Similarly, you can order it directly from Epigram Books!

The ebook is up at Weightless Books, and my thanks go once again to Gavin and Michael for their prompt action. Remember, you can also get an annual subscription, so that you need never miss an issue again!

And to celebrate the release of the sixth issue there, they’ve posted a short interview I conducted with author Ken Liu, whose story “Running Shoes” leads off the issue. Here’s a snippet:

Q. Giang’s fate is heartbreaking and then uplifting. I’m currently reading your collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, and I’ve noticed that you’re quite adept at turning a plot in a very unexpected (and typically compassionate) direction. Is this a conscious decision when you’re crafting a short story, to subvert your readers’ expectations?

The only reader I have in mind when I write is myself. Every story I write, in some sense, is an argument with myself: about what is beautiful; what is true; what is the point of being alive and aware and thinking and moving; what is a story; what is a good story; what is a good story that makes me care and makes me weep.

I don’t think I try to subvert reader expectations. I work hard to satisfy my own expectations.

So enjoy the fantastic new issue and spread the word!

Also, psst, LONTAR has a Patreon.


LONTAR Now Has a Patreon page!



LONTAR has a Patreon page!

In case you don’t know what Patreon is all about, an explanation: as opposed to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are project-based and only move forward if they’re fully funded, Patreon is a way for people to support an artist or organisation (in this case, a literary journal) on an on-going basis. Patreon takes its cue from the patronages of old, but instead of Leonardo da Vinci relying on the largesse of the Medici family and the King of France, this new model utilises smaller pledges from many people. The readers and supporters of LONTAR, including you reading my words right now, can directly support the efforts of our journal, and have a stake in its continued production and (hopeful) expansion.

We are hoping to raise $2,500 USD (~$3,500 SGD) to independently fund each issue; this will allow us to move beyond the dependency on government funding (with the caveat that NAC has never been anything but supportive of us, and has never tried to dictate our content) and become completely self-sufficient. Any money above and beyond this initial goal will go toward increasing the payment for our contributors to SFWA-qualifying rates, expanding our marketing and publicity budget, and maybe one day even paying yours truly. This is an obtainable objective, and you have it in your power to make it happen. There are also specific rewards for each pledge level, and the more you pledge, the cooler the stuff you’ll get in return.

If you love LONTAR as much as we do, please go to patreon.com/lontarjournal today to make your pledge, and spread the word, so that we can continue for many years to come. Become a LONTAR patron today!

“The Woman in the Coffee Shop” by Christina Sng


LONTAR #5“The Woman in the Coffee Shop” by Christina Sng, which appeared in LONTAR issue #5, has been nominated for a 2016 Rhysling Award in the Long Poem category! We’re all very proud of Christina, and to celebrate the nomination, here is the poem in its entirety. Enjoy.

The Woman in the Coffee Shop
Christina Sng

She was elegant, more
Graceful than a swan,
Neck like the pale white
Inner bark of a young tree.

Her hair was onyx, woven
Like black dragon beard candy
Onto her head, held only
By a single wooden chopstick.

Oak, I recognised. Not
From around here. Just like her,
An old-world hardened weariness
That came only with age. Great age.

Yet she looked only 35,
Face pale and unlined, her ears
Distractingly almost elven. And
Her ebony eyes—

Deeper than death;
Maelstroms opening gateways
To unknown alternate universes.

She turned those eyes on me now,
Staring piercingly into mine.
I must have frowned, for her lips
Parted into a smile.

“Which one is he?”
She asked, in a soft whisper.
I turned my eyes to him,
Sitting nonchalantly

Four tables away,
Counting his 4D tickets
And drinking teh tarik.
She looked back at me

With those peerless eyes
And nodded.
Time froze
In that instant.

And everyone in the coffee shop
Along with it: patrons with coffee
Cups in hand; a man labouring
A heavy tray, pausing mid-step

As if to collect his thoughts;
A prata suspended in the air,
Swirled like a faraway
Infinite galaxy;

Saffron droplets
Freeze-framed above
A child’s plate beside me,
Her face full of glee.

It would be her first taste of curry:
Her mother capturing the moment
While grandma beamed proudly
And big sister sipped her tea.

I did not see the chopstick
Pierce his throat till
The world unfroze
And the first screams began.

When I turned, she was gone.
Later, by Papa’s bedside,
I held his still hand, stroked
His unruly hair from his face.

“Mama is avenged,” I told him.
“Please wake up now. Please.”
His breath quickened. I knew
He heard me. I thought of

The woman in the shop
And how she appeared
Out of nowhere to help me.
What did she want?

And why did she wear
My dead mother’s face?

“The Woman in the Coffee Shop” is copyright © 2015 by Christina Sng.

Cover and Contents for LONTAR #6!



We’re only two months away from the release of LONTAR issue #6! And I’m proud to reveal both the cover and contents for the new issue, which presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos.



Running Shoes
   Ken Liu

   Eka Kurniawan (trans. Tiffany Tsao)

See It Coming
   Jennifer Anne Champion

Her Majesty’s Lamborghini and the Girl With the Fish Tank
   JY Yang

Brother to Space, Sister to Time
   Victor Fernando R. Ocampo



I See Clouds
   Russ Hoe

Three Poems
   Christina Sng

quaere :: seek and ask
   Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

   Marco Yan

Changi Mermaid
   Ang Si Min

Two Poems
   Jonel Abellanosa

   Sokunthary Svay

Two Poems
   Brendan Walsh

Objects of Revolution
   Krishna Udayasankar



The Boy, the Swordfish, the Bleeding Island
   Ng Yi-Sheng


Sequential Art

The Feast
   Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo

The issue will be available in late April in bookstores all over Singapore, on the Epigram Books website, and as an ebook through Weightless Books.

Notes on “The Spurned Bride’s Tears”


Issue #5Gord Sellar’s striking novelette, “The Spurned Bride’s Tears, Centuries Old, in the Rain”, was just published as the anchor story in LONTAR issue #5, and he’s assembled some notes on what inspired him to write it:

During the winter of 2010, I spent approximately two months in Indonesia (with much of that time spent in Depok, an exurb of Jakarta), where my then-girlfriend—now my wife—was studying Bahasa Indonesia, the official national language of the country. Indonesia’s not an easy place to be, at times: Jakarta’s traffic is pure insanity, and I got the worst food poisoning of my life there. But the place had a powerful effect on me: rereading the story at some remove, I find Depok rushing back into my mind with vivid, overwhelming immediacy.

One interesting thing about Jakarta is that, despite the nation’s official semi-secularity, and the overwhelming popularity of Islam there, the’re a certain amount of Hindu cultural material that still is very visible in Jakarta (let alone over in Bali, where Hinduism is still commonly practiced). Hinduism in Indonesia (as in much of Southeast Asia) predates the arrival of the now-dominant religions of Islam (in Indonesia) and Buddhism (in much of the rest of Southeast Asia) by a significant margin. Angkor Wat depicts scenes from Hindu, not Buddhist, religious narrative. The Ramakian of Thailand is a localized remix of the Ramayana. It got me thinking about Hindu cosmology underlying modern Indonesian religious practices and identities: what if the Indian model of the afterlife—reincarnation for as long as people need to work out their karmic and dharmic balance—were correct, despite the majority of Indonesians adhering to a different model of the afterlife today?

Read the rest of Sellar’s entry at his website. And read “The Spurned Bride’s Tears, Centuries Old, in the Rain” in LONTAR issue #5.

LONTAR #6 Lineup


LONTAR issue #5 is now out in the world, and should be appearing in bookstores soon. You can already order it directly from Epigram Books, and the ebook will be up at Weightless Books in the very near future.

I am also happy to announce that the contents of LONTAR issue #6 have been finalised! This jam-packed sixth issue presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos. Inside these pages, you’ll find:

We are now reading for issue #7, to be released in Autumn 2016, so if you want your work to be considered, send it to us via the Submittable portal. If you’re still waiting for a reply on your submission, please be patient and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Cover and Contents for LONTAR #5!



Presenting the cover and contents for LONTAR issue #5!

This issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Inside these pages, you’ll find:

  • an ancient and fatal karmic reunion in Jakarta by award-winner Gord Sellar;
  • the true origin of the Merlion by Singapore Literature Prize winner Amanda Lee Koe;
  • a young man’s literal transformation into an island by award-winner Ng Yi-Sheng;
  • a far-future Malaysian fairy tale by Kawika Guillermo;
  • a gentle aquatic apocalypse from novelist Erica Verrillo;
  • an enlightening visit with a forest monk in northern Thailand by Italian journalist Massimo Morello;
  • a comic on the price of technological hubris by Benjamin Chee;
  • and speculative poetry by Tania De Rozario, Joel Donato Jacob, Lee Jing-Jing, Daryl WJ Lim, Christina Sng and Sokunthary Svay.

We’re sending the issue to the printer in a couple of weeks, so it should be available in mid-October in bookstores all over Singapore, on the Epigram Books website, and as an ebook through Weightless Books. We’ll be launching L5 along with L4 at the 2015 Singapore Writers Festival in November, and many contributors from both issues will be on hand to discuss their writing and sign copies.

LONTAR Contributors in PSF-X


PSF-XCongratulations to all of the announced authors for Philippine Speculative Fiction X (Vol. 10), including LONTAR contributors Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (L2, L6), Eliza Victoria (L4) and Kate Osias (L1, L4); the anthology is edited by Dean Francis Alfar (L3) and Nikki Alfar (L3), and looks to be an especially strong volume in an already impressive annual series.

The full table of contents is as follows:

A Long Walk Home – Alexander M. Osias
A Report – Sarge Lacuesta
A Small Hope – Gabriela Lee
For Sale: Big Ass Sword – Kenneth G. Yu
Children of the Stars – Francis Gabriel Concepcion
Fisher of Men – Razel Tomacder
Hunger – Lakan Umali
IT Girl – AJ Elicaño
Lamat – Noel Tio
Marvin and the Jinni – Raymund Reyes
Mechanical Failures – Jose Elvin Bueno
Mene, Thecel, Phares – Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
Night Predators – Joseph Montecillo
Oblation – Richard Calayeg Cornelio
Santos de Sampaguitas – Alyssa Wong
Soulless – EK Gonzales
The Dollmaker – Joel Pablo Salud
The Last God of Cavite – Andrew Drilon
The Owl and the Hoopoe – Renz Torres
The Run to Grand Maharlika Station – Vincent Michael Simbulan
The Target – Eliza Victoria
Thunderstorm – Cyan Abad-Jugo
When the Gods Left – Kate Osias

LONTAR #4 Reviewed at Tangent


lontar4-smTangent Online has reviewed LONTAR issue #4! It’s mostly positive, but really spoilery, so if that sort of thing bothers you, best buy the issue first.

The review focuses solely on the issue’s fiction: “Fade” by Eliza Victoria, “A Century of Loneliness” by Andrew Cheah, “The Tango” by Kate Osias and “No Other City” by Ng Yi-Sheng. (Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Yellow Card Man” was previously reviewed at the site, presumably during its first publication.)

The money shot: “A relatively new publication, LONTAR nonetheless publishes high-quality works by award-winning authors. Diverse and under-represented characters and settings are a mainstay of LONTAR‘s fiction, opening the genre to fresh themes and voices, and introducing readers to the rich culture and atmosphere of Southeast Asia.”

Read the review here.

LONTAR story in World SF anthology


Apex Publications has just announced the list of authors for The Apex Book of World SF 4 coming out next month (edited by Mahvesh Murad), and I’m very happy to note that “Setting Up Home” by Sabrina Huang (translated by Jeremy Tiang), which originally appeared in LONTAR #3, will be reprinted in the volume! Congratulations to Sabrina and Jeremy!

Further congrats to contributors Zen Cho (L1) and JY Yang (L3) for their inclusion as well! We’ve got some very talented voices in speculative fiction on this side of the world, and it’s gratifying to see them continue to be recognised.