Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inspirations: Stories from Hinirang

The anthology of Alfar's work, only
locally available at this time, I think.
I'll admit that I wanted a Filipino Fantasy setting, but until I began to read the stories set in Hinirang (a sort of shared fantasy world for certain Filipino writers) I was locked into that whole "I gotta be slavishly historical to the setting" mindset, ignoring the fact that D&D and many other fantasy RPGs were: (1) not historical; (2) set in a somewhat generic pseudo-medieval fantasy setting inspired by various sources and the imaginations of the setting creators.

There are a number of Hinirang authors, but the most active is Dean Francis Alfar. And many of these stories are available online to read for free -- let me share them with you.

First mention must go to L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars), which -- at the time of this writing -- still appears (where it made its original debut) on Strange Horizons. This short story made it into The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror Seventeenth Annual Collection. In addition to the strength of the story itself, it comes the closest to giving a travelogue of the whole of Hinirang.

Other Hinirang stories you may wish to read online:
  • The Middle Prince (an iconoclasticly plotted fairy tale)
  • How Rosang Taba Won a Race (an unusually structured folk tale and soon-to-be-published children's book set in Ciudad Meiora -- the Hinirang equivalent of Manila)
  • Terminos (a Hinirang shuttlebop story) 
Art by Carl Zeno Manalo for the story "The Middle Prince"
Sadly, one of my favorite stories after "L'Aquilone" is not online, though an excerpt appears on his blog. The story is Sabados con Fray Villalobos (Saturdays with Fray Villalobos). I thoroughly enjoy this partially because of the showdown between the Katao mambarang (a riff on the Filipino mambabarang - a sorceror who specializes in insect-based curses) and the Inspancialo priest; the other reason I enjoy it is the recipes and the way those recipes are ultimately tied into the mambarang's come-uppance.

Another Hinirang story not by Alfar, but by Vincent Michael Simbulan is In the Arms of Beishu, a story about the Tsino (the Hinirang equivalent of the Filipino-Chinese who've been here since before the Spaniards came).

Yet another Hinirang story -- one by Nikki Alfar -- is set outside of the land of Hinirang, but in the world of Hinirang still, and is called EmberWild.

Of course, other stories are out there, and I plan to add to the collection of stories set in Hinirang some day, but for now I'm taking stock of the canon -- and I'm eagerly awaiting the latest installment that Alfar assures me involves the Heroes of Hinirang and the representatives of the Pio Familia in the land of Hinirang.

Or maybe I can dispense with writing stories altogether and just do the sourcebook I've wanted to do for a long time.

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