Over on his side of the world wide web, Banzai Cat asks a question: Does a local sword-and-sorcery subgenre exist around here?
The first instinct is to answer "yes". Every literary fantasy environment should have its divisions, after all. We know that there are at least a few Filipino writers who work on their own fantasy settings; some reveal their worlds bit by bit in any number of short stories, while others rush their stuff into full-blown primetime TV series. The fantasy genre has long pervaded local literature and entertainment; how can we not have a bunch of stuff that can be lumped under a "sword-and-sorcery" subgenre?
And now that I have those initial assumptions firmly in place, I have to admit that I can't think of a single example.
To be honest, Sword-and-Sorcery (which I'll shorten to the strange-sounding "S&S") doesn't necessarily lie along the same lines of literary thought. It's basically a sort-of "pulp" fantasy -- while traditional high fantasy will flesh out an entire alternate world and explain how everything works through an epic cast of characters, S&S will concentrate on individual wild-ride adventures centering around a single feature character or characters. I find a lot more action and a lot less moral stratification in S&S work; In these stories, the emphasis is removed from the setting and placed firmly on the shoulders of a hard-bitten protagonist. Think Conan, if you like. Or Red Sonja, I suppose. Or Xena, if your mind can stand to be stretched a bit.
On further thought, I realize that the Philippine context might not be particularly conducive to S&S. Our fantastic "pulp" literature actually tends towards the direction of high fantasy -- we get a lot of superheroes, for instance, who gain magical powers from otherworldly forces and proceed to use them in order to save the world. It falls in line with a fairly desperate world-view: In a way, we feel that the Philippine context is so hopeless that our fantasies involve rescuing ourselves from it.
Moreover, our creative background pushes us in the direction of high fantasy as well. For one, our local bookstores are lined with multiple-volume epics by established novelists. Our cartoon fare consists mostly of Japanese animé, none of which takes place in a purely local context. We even play more collectible card games than role-playing games nowadays -- the former promotes a lush setting more than it does an in-depth story.
So with all this in mind, I'd have to say that, no, a local S&S subgenre doesn't exist around here.
And now that begs a certain question: "So what's stopping us from writing it?"
I'm no stranger to high fantasy, of course. You've seen the Antaria setting that I've molded through past posts on this blog, and even that wasn't the first alternate-world setup that I've created. But now that S&S is in the picture, it brings up another concern: Does significant experience in high fantasy invalidate one's ability to get down to the new subgenre?
I don't know the answer to that. I suppose that the only way to find out would be to pick up a pen and try my hand at the stuff. I admit that the prospect of writing fantasy without the standard trappings of fantasy feels difficult, but it might just be worth it to explore a direction that no one else seems to have explored in the last few years.
That would be something to consider the next time I feel like delving into fantasy again... *rummages through character archive*