Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang’

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Probably the best short story in The Apex Book of World SF. By Kristen Mandigma.

Now, to your letter. I confess to having read it with some consternation. I am well acquainted with your penchant for morbid humor and yet the suggestion that I might write a short “piece” for a speculative fiction magazine struck me as more perverse than usual. What on earth is speculative fiction anyway? I believe you are referring to one of those ridiculous publications which traffic in sensationalizing the human imagination while actually claiming to enrich it by virtue of setting it loose from the moorings of elitist literary fiction? Or whatever? And by elitist substitute “realist,” I suppose. You argue that speculative fiction is merely a convenient “ideologically neutral” term to describe a certain grouping of popular genre fiction, but then follow it up with a defensive polemic on its revolutionary significance with regard to encapsulating the “popular” Filipino experience. To which I ask: As opposed to what?I believe, Comrade, that you are conflating ideology with bourgeois hair-splitting. When it comes down to it, how is this novel you sent along with your letter, this novel about an interstellar war between monster cockroaches and alienated capitalist soldiers, supposed to be a valid form of social commentary? I do not care if the main character is a Filipino infantryman. I assume he is capitalist, too. Furthermore, since he is far too busy killing cockroaches in godforsaken planets on a spaceship (which is definitely not a respectable proletarian occupation), his insights into the future of Marxist revolution in the Philippines must be suspect, at best. And this Robert Heinlein fellow you mention, I assume, is another imperialist Westerner? I thought so. Comrade, I must admit to being troubled by your choice of reading fare these days. And do not think you can fob me off with claims that your favorite novel at the moment is written by a socialist author. I do not trust socialists. The only socialists I know are white-collar fascist trolls who watch too many Sylvester Stallone movies. Sellouts, the lot of them.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 10, 2009 at 9:02 pm

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