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New Frontiers in Philippine Literature: A study of Filipino Futuristic Fiction by women writers in English

New Frontiers in Philippine Literature: A study of Filipino Futuristic Fiction by women writers in English

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Published by ruby soho
New Frontiers in Philippine Literature:
A study of Filipino Futuristic Fiction by women writers in English
Dianne Rae E. Siriban
CL 298: Women's Narratives (Phil. Literature)
Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo
October 1, 2005
New Frontiers in Philippine Literature:
A study of Filipino Futuristic Fiction by women writers in English
Dianne Rae E. Siriban
CL 298: Women's Narratives (Phil. Literature)
Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo
October 1, 2005

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Published by: ruby soho on Dec 08, 2008
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Dianne Rae E. SiribanCL 298Dr. Cristina Pantoja HidalgoOctober 1, 2005
 New Frontiers in Philippine Literature:
A study of Filipino Futuristic Fiction by women writers in EnglishOne of the challenges involved in developing academic programs for a newly establishedcollege in the suburbs is to create courses that the majority of students can take, if not as major subjects then at least as electives. Last year, when I had to defend my proposal for a ScienceFiction class, I had to simply reiterate the school’s slogan, “reinventing education, humanizingtechnology”—since the college that I teach in right now is meant to be a science and technologycampus. After that, it had not been at all difficult to explain to them the importance of studyingscience fiction as a way of understanding the nature of science and technology itself, and of critiquing media texts that are produced in the West but are catered to audiences that includeFilipinos.I can say that I have truly enjoyed studying and discussing with my students thenarratives and films that are popularly considered science fiction. Even though I have beenwatching science fiction all my life (I confess that I am a shameless Star Trek fan totally smitten by the cyborg Commander Data), it was only through recent research that I learned of howscience fiction has been around for more than a century and a half, but is still consideredrelatively young compared to other literary and artistic genres; such as realistic fiction, epics andmyths, tales and parables. In its state of adolescence, controversies and ambiguities still abound
Page 1 of 17
 
in the definition of science fiction. At times science fiction is still derisorily confused andinterchanged with fantasy, and this is plainly seen in the way books are put together under thesame category in bookstores, and in the way
Star Wars
fill the same shelves as
Contact 
andPhilip K. Dick flicks in video shops. Debates abound among science fiction purists who oftencriticize mainstream science fiction, and mainstream enthusiasts who maintain that pure scienceis boring, and that science fiction should primarily be entertaining.Audiences and readers right now already have a general idea about what sets sciencefiction apart from other literary genres, but I would like to cite a couple of definitions fromrenowned science fiction writers and critics. Isaac Asimov distinguished this genre from theothers when he proclaimed modern science fiction as “the only form of literature thatconsistently considers the nature of changes that face [human beings], the possible consequences,and the possible solutions.” Whereas for Robert Heinlein, science fiction is the “realisticspeculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientificmethod.” (Jones, 2000)From this I understand that science fiction texts are stories coherently extrapolated from present scientific and technological facts so that they reflect a society’s dreams, fears of andaspirations for the future. But even as they talk about either dystopic or utopic futures, or havethemes such as alien invasion, time travel, genetic mutation or cyberpunk, science fiction canonly make sense if it reflects the present human condition and take on real world issues. Throughan imaginative exploration of future possibilities, the writer confronts issues that are not at allfictional, such as the inevitability of environmental destruction, the cruelty of oppressivesocieties, gender inequalities, poverty, and so on.
Page 2 of 17
 
In short, the best science fiction texts are removed from our present day experience, onlyin so far as they try to predict plausible outcomes of present circumstances, but are still critiquesof the current human condition.Although not much has been written about it, in Britain and America futuristic fiction isconsidered a province under the larger territory of science fiction (Pickering & Chatto 2005). AsI understand it, texts that are labeled futuristic fiction may not be as rigidly based on scientificlaws and technological possibilities as science fiction texts are expected to be. Futuristic fictionincludes stories of future events imagined through a keen understanding of the nature of human beings, the workings and tendencies of the natural environment, and the patterns throughoutsocial and natural history. Some of Ursula K. Le Guin’s and Margaret Atwood’s fiction fall under this classification, as well as films like
Waterworld 
and
The Day After Tomorrow.
A story that we recently took up in CL 298 class that could be considered future fiction is
 Jungle Planet 
by Lakambini A. Sitoy. I am quite delighted to know that a growing number of Filipino writers are delving into science fiction, maybe spurred by the creation of the newestcategory in the Palanca awards: Futuristic Fiction.Timothy Montes, in a lecture delivered during the Francisco Nemenzo Lecture Series inU.P. Mindanao, identified that “a fundamental lack, if not a fear of science” has plagued the localliterary tradition and has kept it within the worn-out precincts of social realism. He charged themajority of Filipino writers as still obsessed with the rural archetypes of 
 Baldo, Manong 
and
 Ading 
. He therefore considers the opening of the futuristic fiction category for writers in Filipinoand English as a way of encouraging our local writers to cross the frontiers of a more or less
Page 3 of 17

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