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One thing I love about Twitter is that it lets you peek into many different places, many different disciplines, many different interests. Some of my interests include genre fiction, diversity in literature, and Southeast Asia, so maybe it’s not surprising that I’ve ended up following Ahmad Alkadri (@alkadri), a student in forestry in Indonesia who’s also a translator and a writer. His debut novel Spora, a tale of Lovecraftian horror, came out last year.

He kindly let me ask him some questions about the genre scene in Indonesia and about his own work. Today’s questions are about Indonesia. Tune in tomorrow to learn more about Ahmad himself and his writer’s journey.

Can you speak a little about the science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing community in Indonesia? What Indonesian writers would you like to see gain popularity outside of Indonesia?

The communities are small in number, but they are very passionate! There are some very active groups, such as Kastil Fantasi (@KastilFantasi), Penggemar Novel Fantasi Indonesia (PNFI) (@portalfantasi), and Le Chateau de Phantasm (@L_C_D_P). Also there are fan groups, such as Harry Potter Indonesia, The Darkest Minds Indonesia, The Mortal Instruments Indonesia, and so many more.

I’d pretty much want to see some Indonesian writers and books going abroad. Vandaria Saga is an original high epic fantasy series from my country, spanning books and video games, with a coherent world and intertwined little stories that I’d like to be skyrocketed in other countries.

We also write good action stories (which lately have been developed into all other sorts of action movies, one of which is The Raid), and horror novels (Eve Shi is my favorite Indonesian horror writer by now—check out her works!). I’d really like to see all of them, together, graced the international market together.

Eve Shi

Indonesian, lifelong and full-time fangirl, writer. She subsists on tea, fruit juice, and the occasional latte. Currently her favorite writers are the late Liang Yusheng (wuxia writer), Arakawa Hiromu (mangaka), and Zen Cho (Malaysian speculative fiction writer). Her third YA supernatural/horror novel, Unforgiven, is published by Gagas Media in June 2014. Next: Sparkle (YA, drama), from Noura Books in November 2014. (Source)

How would you describe Indonesian science fiction, fantasy, and horror? (Are there qualities to it that feel uniquely Indonesian to you?)

Indonesian fantasy stories are usually full of action, with merciless villains and a heavy political plot ready to destroy the hero. You think Game of Thrones is hardcore? Well there is this TV series, a long time ago, about an evil witch (Mak Lampir) who manipulated kingdoms full of martial art masters (each one of them is probably capable of handling her in one-on-one battle) to keep battling each other to death. And the hero is a homeless, wandering warrior. With a whiplash as main weapon (rad, huh?).
Mak Lampir

(photo source)

The horror stories are frightening, and here is where I’d proudly say that they are, most of them, uniquely Indonesian. We have many paranormal creatures and ghosts from our own folklores, and most of them are terrifying. We have our own zombies (google: zombie toraja indonesia), vampires (google: hantu leak), and even were-creatures (google: babi ngepet). Check them out. You’d be surprised.

Have some google images. . .

(The image of a zombie from Toraja is under a cut because your hostess finds it genuinely terrifying)

(photo source)

(Okay, you know what? Hantu leak is also too horrifying to go without a cut. She’s a human head, but her body is nothing but viscera)

(image source)

Babi ngepet is a were-boar

(image source)

Any questions for Ahmad about Indonesia's genre scene? Leave them here!


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
I've heard of the Hantu Leak. They're also called penanggalans.
Jan. 12th, 2015 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think I've heard that name.
Jan. 12th, 2015 03:34 pm (UTC)
wow, that puts the walking dead to shame. terrifying!
Jan. 12th, 2015 03:44 pm (UTC)
Isn't it? I was seriously creeped out. Reading the article that the picture comes from puts my mind a little to rest, but the image is still VERY terrifying.
Jan. 12th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
Such cool stuff!
Jan. 12th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
I loved hearing about the online writing communities!
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)
Actually, this reminds me of the time someone had an anthology of Filipino fantasy and science fiction and I remember someone griping because it was too self-consciously Filipino instead of cliched medieval fantasy with dragons and elves.
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
Seriously?! Part of the virtue of fantasy from other parts of the world is getting away from those tired tropes.
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
They had some weird justification for this but it's not public anymore and there's no cached version or internet archive post.

I don't get it either.
Jan. 13th, 2015 02:14 am (UTC)
I really like finding the links and things in common across cultures - sometimes hinting at old voyages or trade routes, and sometimes just showing our common humanity, in constructing stories or images which echo each other, reacting to the same world, the same life-experiences. In these, I loved the were-boar image!

And... question! :) Is there much or any Indonesian genre-writing featuring animals (or were-animals) as hnau, that is, as thinking, feeling beings? as sympathetic characters seen from the inside, rather than terrifying apparitions or monsters?
Jan. 13th, 2015 07:41 am (UTC)
I love the were-boar too. Some of the other images, from stories, reminded me of the boar god in Miyazaki Hayao's Mononoke hime.

I've tweeted your question to Ahmad, so hopefully he will answer when he gets a chance.
Jan. 15th, 2015 02:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for asking! There are many Indonesian stories, and folklores, which feature animals as main characters, or seen from their POV. One thing that immediately jumped into my head is the story of Lutung Kasarung, a (were) monkey who helped an exiled princess and aiding her to regain her rights and throne of the kingdom. In the popular section there's this horror movie, Ratu Buaya Putih (literally, The Queen of White Crocodile), which tells the story about a village terrorised by alligators. The queen, which disguised herself as a widower living in the village, terrorised the people because she hated some villagers who were hunting her kins and selling her children to the market. The story ends with the victory on the humans, because they're the heroes, which was a bit depressing, because the people were actually continuing their crocodile-hunting business.

And there are so many more. Some old horror movies in Indonesia were even crafted so well, we end up sympathising with the monsters, or the beasts.

TL;DR, there are so many of them :)

Edited at 2015-01-15 02:10 am (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2015 01:08 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful--thank you! I would love to read the story of Lutung Kasarung.
Jan. 15th, 2015 01:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Ahmad! Like Asakiyume, I'd love to read that story in full. :) In the meantime, thanks to your lead here, I've checked out "Lutung Kasarung" on the internet, and found not only a summary of the story, but links to more - a real feast of stories and story-ideas!
Thanks again!

Jan. 15th, 2015 01:08 pm (UTC)
(He has answered, but you may not get notification because it appeared in response to my comment, below)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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