The Portland Mercury interviews co-editor Walidah Imarisha

You know Walidah Imarisha: When Gizmodo ran a piece earlier this year about race in Oregon, she was the scholar quoted throughout. We've written about her revolutionary approach to science fiction and social justice right here in these very pages. And now she's co-edited an anthology of science fiction from social justice movements, Octavia's Brood, along with Adrienne Maree Brown. Out now from Oakland's AK Press, the anthology features stories Imarisha describes as "visionary fiction." It's a broad category, with room for what might be called speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, or horror, with one key distinction: the stories must challenge normative paradigms, and make space for imagining sweeping social change.

With visionary fiction as its organizing principle, the stories in Octavia's Brood vary hugely, but certain threads carry through: Instead of far-off galaxies, many of the stories take place in recognizably American settings. Detroit and Oakland make appearances. In one of these stories, Adrienne Maree Brown's "The River," the Detroit River becomes haunted by a specter of gentrification and displacement, or what Imarisha describes as "a crime that's not a crime." In gorgeous, un-ornamented prose, it's equal parts horrifying and mesmerizing.

There's a reason for these appearances of the ordinary in what's ostensibly a science fiction collection. For purposes of visionary fiction, says Imarisha, "utopias aren't as useful as organizing in worlds like this one." But neither, she says, are dystopias, because, "If there's organizing, there's no true dystopia."


Read the rest here...