Monday, July 4

Award-winning Filipina sci-fi writers to read on Women’s Month

By HAZEL N. CAMBA

FINDING FEMALE writers on the science fiction shelves nowadays would not even be a surprise, unlike the old times. 

For the past decades, science fiction has been a male-dominated genre, with more men bagging recognizable awards like Hugo and being included in the list of “best-selling” science fiction. Today, an increasing number of women have successfully built their names in the genre, where they finally dominated Hugo awards for two consecutive years.

In celebration of Women’s Month, The Flame rounds up the names of the Filipina sci-fi writers you might want to add to your “must-read” list. 

1. Kristine Ong Muslim

Photo grabbed from Kristine Ong Muslim’s Twitter account (@kristinemuslim).

Fiction and poetry author Kristine Ong Muslim grabbed honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and got nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association Rhysling Award. Among her notable achievements is co-editing award-winning fantasy anthologies People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!  and Ulirát: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines

Known for her dark themes, Muslim’s affinity towards supernatural motifs can be seen in her prose. One of her notable sci-fi works is Day of the Builders, a story about a rural community overrun by scientists on the verge of a creeping ecological apocalypse.

You may access Kristine Ong Muslim’s Day of the Builders at weirdficitonreview.com

2. Eliza Victoria

Photo grabbed from Eliza Victoria’s Twitter account (@elizawriteshere).

Authoring Dwellers (2014) that won the Philippine National Book Award, Eliza Victoria is also an awardee in Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Her immersive plot twists between the familiar and the scary make her distinct from other sci-fi writers.  Victoria was also featured in several known publications such as LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, The Best Asian Speculative Fiction, The Apex Book of World SF Volume 5, and Future SF Digest. 

One of her popular pieces is Nightfall, a collection of short stories. The characters are interrelated and live in the futuristic Philippines, where biomodification technology is broadly embraced. The book also gives a social critique on the privileged and the poor.

3. Vida Cruz 

Photo grabbed from Vida Cruz’s Twitter account (@laviecestmoi).

Writer Vida Cruz became the first Filipino to grab first place in the Writers of the Future Contest, short fiction, and essays through her piece Odd and Ugly

Best known for incorporating Filipino folklore in her stories, Cruz’s book Odd and Ugly is inspired by the fairytale Beauty and the Beast, which she localized through Philippine myths. 

Cruz was also nominated for Hugo awards after putting up an inclusive fringe event at Fiyahcon 2020. The event celebrates the contribution of BIPOC writers to science and fiction. 

You may listen to a podcast of Vida Cruz’s Odd and Ugly at podcastle.org.

4. Isabel Yap

Photo grabbed from Isabel Yap’s Twitter account (@visyap).

Prolific writer Isabel Yap has contributed original fiction and poetry in the Philippines, including in volumes of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology series. She also published more than 15 fanfiction stories that are largely drawn from life. Her stories were reflective of contemporary fantasy, which is a modern and youthful style of writing. 

Yap recently published a debut collection of short fiction Never Have I Ever in Small Beer. The collection is a representation of Filipino youths that are struggling to find a place in the world. The author kept the characters tied with the millennial ages while still anchoring it with her home’s local stories and beliefs.  F

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