We’re still on high for the National Literature Month and for this post, we’re featuring Filipino authors in the genre of speculative fiction. We’ve invited author/editor Charles Tan to give us the lowdown of local writers who have existing books/stories that readers should also add in their TBR list. We’re sure even our non-Filipino readers will also find a couple of stories interesting, especially to those who are really into the genre.
When we talk about science fiction and fantasy, the immediate names that come to mind are the popular, US-centric authors like George R. R. Martin, Scott Lynch, or Patrick Rothfuss. But the field is actually vast and diverse, if we look at the right places. There a lot of Filipino authors writing in the genre, and here’s a quick glimpse of what they offer:
Hands-down, one of our most prolific authors in the field is Eliza Victoria. Whether you crave science fiction, fantasy, or horror, Victoria has a story for you. She’s also written in a variety of formats, whether it’s short stories, novelettes, novella, poetry, and soon, comics. The only format that currently eludes her is the novel, but she has a large body of work to tide you over. It’s not just the sheer volume that makes Victoria stand out, but how consistent she delivers interesting and compelling stories.
Rin Chupeco a.k.a. Erin Chupeco
There’s not a lot of speculative fiction novels by Filipinos, but if you must read one, Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well is a book that might interest you, especially with its J-horror influences. Her alter ego, Erin Chupeco, was a previous winner of the Graphic/Fiction Awards held by Fully Booked and Neil Gaiman in 2005 for her short story Juan Perez’s Corpse. Chupeco also produces a modest amount of horror-themed short stories that could also be classified as Young Adult (YA).
While Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is based in the Netherlands, her large body of fiction nonetheless harkens to her Filipino roots, and this is a recurring theme in her work. What makes Loenen-Ruiz’s stories compelling is that she uses the tools of science fiction and fantasy, rather than the Realism mode preferred by a lot of local authors who would write about the same subject. In 2013, her short story Song of the Body Cartographer was nominated for the British Science Fiction Awards (BSFA).
Song of the Body Cartographer (Philippine Genre Stories)
Of Alternate Adventures and Memory (Clarkesworld)
Alternate Girl’s Expatriate Life from Interzone 229 and The Apex Book of World SF 2 (Apex Publications)
Alyssa Wong just debuted in the scene last year (2014) but she’s already produced three outstanding short stories: The Fisher Queen, Santos de Sampaguitas, and Scarecrow, in addition to being nominated for a Nebula Award in 2015 (only time will tell if she’ll take home the award!) for her first short story. Filipino readers will want to start with Santos de Sampaguitas which is not-your-typical aswang story.
If you’re looking for speculative fiction that’s geared towards a Middle Grade (MG) audience, then you might want to give Isabel Yap a try. Yap’s stories have always been about growth and belonging, and yet distinctly reflect the culture they’re part of. In Have You Heard The One About Anamaria Marquez? for example, this horror story is set in your typical Catholic high school but it evokes a campus and atmosphere like Poveda.
Have You Heard The One About Anamaria Marquez? (Nightmare Magazine)
A Cup of Salt Tears (Tor.com)
Sink (Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume V and The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010)