My current obsession with feminist science fiction led me to brilliant reviews of Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet at both The F-Word and Ultrabrown. In my earlier post on Islam and feminism in SF I mentioned a few times about how the genre is used to critique some grand narratives of our times. But in lieu of feminist utopias, Singh’s anthology of short stories explores the more intimate worlds of emotional and mental isolation to great effect in what she calls speculative fiction:
So much modern realist fiction is divorced from the physical universe, as though humans exist in a vacuum devoid of animals, rocks and trees. Speculative fiction is our chance to rise above this pathologically solipsist view and find ourselves part of a larger whole; to step out of the claustrophobia of the exclusively human and discover joy, terror, wonder and meaning in the universe…
…I said earlier that speculative fiction is about what cannot ever be, or what cannot be as yet. But it is also true that when it uses symbol and metaphor in certain ways, speculative fiction is about us as we are, right now. This may be the case even if the story is set on another planet, in another age, and the protagonist is an alien. Because haven’t we all felt alien at some time or another, set apart from the norm due to caste and class, religion and creed, gender and sexual orientation?
Over at Sepia Mutiny, Amardeep wrote an entertaining piece on the regional films of India that got me all nostalgic about growing up watching diverse Indian films on television in multi-ethnic Malaysia:
[The Tamil blockbuster,] Sivaji, The Boss is as over-the-top and glossy as any big, loud, Bollywood movie. This is not terribly surprising; there is a regular exchange of ideas and talent between the Hindi and Tamil movie industries, and watching this film I felt as if I were watching a Bollywood film that happened to be in the Tamil language. The only major difference might be the presence of Rajnikanth himself, with his utterly unique style and an iconic status that has no equivalent anywhere else.
And finally, some really depressing Malaysian news. The latest BBC report on Malaysia has thrown the limelight on the worse kind of Malays in the country: sadly, the educated elite of UiTM (MARA University of Technology). The head of UiTM’s student body shares his views about excluding other races from his campus:
[The Arabic letter] “meem” stands for Malays – because while other parts of the education system have ethnic quotas, only bhumiputras are allowed to study here.
Education is a live issue, not only for Indians but also for the entrepreneurial Chinese. They make up a quarter of the population and hold much of the nation’s wealth, which allows many to study privately.
… This is our land basically. And we have already given one special privilege to the non-Malays, that is citizenship. (Emphasis mine)
Watch the video here.