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More thinking about Filipino SF

fairymoon

 

 

Thinking about the gap in my science fictional reading, I realize that a lot of it has to do with the place where I grew up and what was available right there. While we had a lot of other books, science fiction ones were few and far between.

 

The Philippines by itself doesn’t yet have a strong tradition of science fiction literature. I’d really like to see this addressed as it seems to me Filipinos are just as capable and just as equal to the task of creating science fictional worlds and science fictional literature that would be as interesting as their western counterparts.

I’m not discounting Western SF here. I enjoy reading a lot of SF writers and a lot of them are white, but honestly, there is no SF novel or no one distinctive SF story written yet by a Filipino writer that's been published outside of the Philippines.  

I think that we have to go beyond the usual tropes of SF, to extend ourselves beyond the patterns and the themes used by our western counterparts in order to produce SF with an original and authentic Filipino voice.

How do we do this then?

In large, I would say that it’s essential for us to mine realism and use that as a launching point towards writing our SF. Looking at good SF stories, a lot of them are based on a solid reality of place. Culture plays a great part in good SF stories as well as Character. It’s not just technicalities and techno-babble, it’s not just knowing the language of SF, but it’s owning it and making it part of the culture. In a sense, subordinating that SF language to the culture of the story.

I’m just thinking off of the top of my head here, so if anyone has their own points or thoughts on this, feel free to chime in.

**editted because I hate absolutes**

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
marshallpayne1
Jun. 23rd, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
How do we do this then?

It's been said that science fiction isn't about technology, but how technology affects mankind. So I guess my question would be, How has technology affected life in the Philippines in any way different from other places. Since Filipino culture is unique, how has technology's impact influenced its culture? Just a thought.
rcloenen_ruiz
Jun. 23rd, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
Marshall, you sure know how to warm a girl's heart :) I love David Bowie. Indeed my thoughts have been going in the same direction. I find myself thinking too of how the culture affects/influences the technology. For instance, would a far-future Filipino society still call a wrench a wrench? (that's an exaggerated base speculation there, but you know what I mean :)
marshallpayne1
Jun. 24th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Yes, I picked out the Bowie icon just for you. :-)

Good point of flipping the influence around.

Sorry to phrase it as a question, but since I really don't know much (or much of anything) about Filipino culture that's my only suggestion as to how to approach it. The thing is about far-future cultures is that with globalization any culture will probably have experienced "cultural fugue" to some degree. That's a term Delany used for his novel Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand. Where an entire culture forgets its past, its history. Which sort of relates to your comments on your worries of Filipinos erasing themselves.

I was thinking you were meaning more near-future. There you can look at how technology is currently affecting The Philippines and extrapolate that to, say, 50 years in the future.

Who knows, in the far-future the British Invasion might win and we'll all call a wrench a spanner. *g*


Edited at 2009-06-24 12:18 am (UTC)
charlesatan
Jun. 23rd, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
The problem with Philippine SF isn't so much that it isn't being written or even being published, but fiction in general has a poor method of distributing such texts here. For example, if a SF story gets published in The Philippines Free Press, a weekly magazine, chances are you'll never see it again unless it wins an award or gets compiled in the author's short story collection (and again, this applies to any genre, not just SF).

It doesn't help matters that for the past few years, the texts that do get attention tend to be the material that's dictated by the Literati, which is usually realist texts.

A good example of the lack of awareness is Roberto Anonuevo's essay on Science Fiction at Panitikang Tagalog (my translation here.

The Palanca Awards also used to have a Future Fiction category--many of those stories being SF--but again, the problem with the Palanca Awards is that the stories get awarded, they don't necessarily get published. Other SF stories can also be found in the general categories. I have a compilation of speculative fiction Filipino stories that are available online here.
rcloenen_ruiz
Jun. 23rd, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC)
If you'll look at my statement, I said that the Philippines does not yet have a strong tradition of SF. I'm not saying that they are not being written or published. And yes, distribution is largely to blame for the lack of awareness concerning Filipino SF.
ldragoon
Jun. 23rd, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
Nothing to add, just wanted to say I think this is a really thoughtful post. :)
rcloenen_ruiz
Jun. 23rd, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
This workshop sure provides a person with lots to think about. I was listening to the work of my fellow workshoppers and realized what a strong tradition of Science Fiction there is in the Western World.

I'm glad you liked the post. I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of soul-searching and thinking out loud on lj while I'm here. lol.
jlapp
Jun. 24th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
I loved your exercise, Rochita! You have a wonderful voice. I can't wait to read one of your longer works for the workshop!
rcloenen_ruiz
Jun. 24th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Hi Jordan. Thanks for your kind words. I thought your exercise was really good too :)
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