Octavia's Brood's Jelani Wilson in The Gothic Times


I had the pleasure of talking with the author of “22XX: One Shot” (a story in the collection about a rebellious student doing research at a future Martian military school and his subsequent escape). The author, Jelani Wilson, is a writer who has also taught in the English Department at NJCU (as well as at NYU and several other universities). He spoke to me from his Jersey City home about both the anthology and his piece in particular, giving excellent insight into some of the thought and themes present throughout:

GT: How did you initially get involved in the project?

Wilson: “Well, I had written a piece for a magazine called “Left Turn” several years ago back in 2011, maybe 2010, about science fiction and growing up reading science fiction, [and] how a couple of science fiction books in particular, how an author named Steven Barnes helped influence my political and social thinking as a young person and furthermore as an adult.  So I wrote that piece and a colleague and a friend Walidah Imarisha [co-editor]…. [who] had been doing a lot of great work organizing, doing political organizing and activist work, she had asked me back in 2011 if I had had something I was working on that would work or if I could work on something new.”

GT: Your story deals heavily with the intertwinement of the human and the mechanical – do you see transhumanism as something integral to the future of social justice?

Wilson: “I guess my sort of non-answer is I think what needs to happen is really to get the question of what being human means and how essential biology is or isn’t to that, especially considering biology isn’t just a hard science divorced from the human lens but also functioning as a social construct as well. So much of how people think of other human beings is put through a social biology lens, whether we’re talking about justifications for homophobia, transphobia, gender discrimination, racial discrimination – there’s almost always been a science or pseudoscience explanation of that…. To determine where one’s humanity and what and where that is. Particularly, in that story, it has less to do with cybernetic components and more to do with psychology, emotions, empathy and a willingness to escape from a reality that has been presented.”"

Read the full piece here!