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(Re)Writing the Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction

Roughly 100 people packed into the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland on December 5th, excited to spend their Friday night talking about science fiction. For the event, (Re)Writing the Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction, I moderated a conversation between Grace Dillon, an Indigenous Studies professor who edited the first-ever book of Indigenous science fiction stories, and Walidah Imarisha, a Black Studies scholar who is also co-editing the upcoming collection of science fiction by activists, Octavia’s Brood.  I loved talking to Imarisha for our recent feminism and sci-fi podcast, so I was excited to talk with her in front of a live audience.

In the second half of the night, Dillon and Imarisha led the crowd in a writing exercise: everyone wrote one page of an encyclopedia that would come out in 2070. This futuristic Peoples’ Encyclopedia offered a look back on current realities like prison policies, border disputes, and Ferguson. The encyclopedia was printed on the spot and stapled together as a zine, while participants also printed their own posters bearing a quote from science fiction author Octavia Butler (above).

Pulling It Together with Amanda M Savage

Episode Info

Educator & Writer Walidah Imarisha @WalidahImarisha parallels social justice movements to works of science fiction, speaks to the international support of #Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter & #ICantBreathe and encourages a reshaping of our notion of justice. She and Amanda agree that sexism, racism & homophobia stack up in America's long-standing system of repression.

Imagine a World Without Prisons: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Superheroes, and Prison Abolition

by Walidah Imarisha

“And then the orcs stage an uprising and seize the means of production, since they are not only the soldiers, they are also the exploited labor of Middle Earth. If they rise up, Mordor grinds to a halt!”

This unlikely strategy came out of a workshop called “Imaginative Fiction and Social Change,” at the Allied Media Conference, an annual gathering in Detroit of radical activists, artists and media makers. The facilitator (and Octavia's Brood contributor), Morrigan Phillips, broke participants into small groups and each one got a fictional land: Oz, the Death Star, Hogwarts, Springfield (of Simpsons fame). Participants then analyzed the conflict and came up with direct action tactics to move their cause for justice forward...

The first and fundamental lesson is that all organizing is science fiction. The question of how do we ensure communities are safe, whole and accountable outside of a criminal justice system created to criminalize and incarcerate many of our communities is a central focus in social justice work. And it is a central question in science fiction as well...

This principle is the foundation we started the anthology from; that when we talk about a world without prisons, a world without police violence, a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education, a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism – we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist.

An update to the Brood...

Greetings everyone,

We know it has been a while since you have received an update about the visionary sci fi anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction From Social Justice Movements.

That is because we have been involved in a transition and re-evaluation phase. It’s the end of that phase, and we are so happy to be able to officially announce two incredible things: 1) the final list of contributors to the project,and 2) that AK Press (in conjunction with the Institute for Anarchist Studies) will publish Octavia's Brood!

We are so ecstatic to share the list of contributors to this project, and to thank the folks who have shared their work, their words, their vision with us and Octavias’ Brood:

Interview: Octavia's Brood


[ Read Original: cherwell.org ]

By: Matt Broomfield

“We believe it is our right and responsibility to write ourselves into the future.” This is the powerful mission statement of Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown, the co-editors of a forthcoming anthology of radical speculative fiction written by social justice activists.

Social justice and science fiction initially seem to have little common ground. There is no overt relation between radicalism and a genre perceived as the preserve of overweight white men in Cheeto-stained slacks. Women are objectified in wallpaper roles, while colonial parallels emerge in narratives of space exploration. The editors recognise that science fiction has reacted to minority writers “through a lens of hetero-normative white male supremacy, even when there has been curiosity or good intention.”

Interview: Walidah Imarisha on Octavia’s Brood


[ Read Original: reddoorproject.org ]


Walidah Imarisha is proud to be a nerd. The Portland-based writer, organizer, educator and performance poet is obsessed with sci-fi, and she’s equally passionate about social change. Those two interests collide in Walidah’s newest project with adrienne maree brown, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, an anthology of visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists, inspired by prominent science fiction writer Octavia Butler.

Octavia’s Brood reached its funding original goal on Indiegogo earlier this month, and is currently seeking contributions for stretch goals. You can read more about the project and contribute here.

We interviewed Walidah last week about Octavia’s Brood, her relationship with Butler’s work, and why it might be time for Uhura to give Captain Kirk a piece of her mind.

Check out ‘Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements’


[ Read Original: http://scifipulse.net ]

By: Ian Cullen

Since I first got into science fiction through television shows such as ‘Star Trek’ it’s never ceased to amaze me at how much of an inspiration science fiction can be.

Science Fiction and my love of things such as Star Trek, Doctor Who and many other shows, movies, comics and books empowered me to start this here website back in May of 2001.

Excerpt from “Black Angels and Blue Roses”


[ Read Original: hoodedutilitarian.com ]

By: Walidah Imarisha

[Note by Noah: This is an excerpt from a story by Walidah Imarisha which will be included in the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown. The book is a collection of sci-fi stories by social activist writers, inspired by the work of Octavia Butler. The editors are currently running a funding campaign on indiegogo, where you can find out more about the project.

Thanks to Walidah and Adrienne for running this excerpt here!

… The gang stayed for a few hours, drinking copious amounts of whiskey and making more noise than the rest of the bar put together.

Science Fiction + Social Justice

[ Read Original: ilovereveiller.com ]

By: Levi Dugat

Perhaps it’s because of my lifelong obsession with musicals, biographical dramas and romantic comedies that I was late on this, but I was well into my twenties before I fully grasped the power of science fiction as a social justice movement platform. Even though I had been engaged in activist communities for years at that point, it just never occurred to me that fiction could be a highly effective medium for presenting the ideals of social justice movements.

Taken out of context, the same activist ideals and principals many non-activisty folks might find off-putting, irrelevant or heavily stigmatized in their own lives, become causes they eagerly consent to stand behind emotionally. In the context of science fiction, our tendencies towards apathy are often absolved, and we’re given permission to consider the possibilities of worlds where it’s actually possible to overturn injustices and heal. I suppose the intention is that, this liberating and emotionally inspired experience you’re having in the theater, or with your nose in a book, will somehow filter back through into your real life, altering your established perspectives on what is possible in our world. That’s a pretty empowering prospect.

At the forefront of this realization for me, was trailblazing science fiction writer, and one of my favorite authors ever, Octavia Butler. When I stumbled upon the project, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, I was naturally enthralled, and immediately inspired to rally support. At the helm of this project are Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha, both community organizers, educators, writers, and self-proclaimed nerds. Amidst their working to “bridge the visionary qualities of science/speculative fiction with radical community organizing practice,” Octavia’s Brood was born.

Octavia’s Brood Wants to Bring You Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements

[ Read Original: colorlines.com ]

By: Walidah Imarisha

I’m a big fan of the Allied Media Conference, which is held at Detroit’s Wayne State University each June. It’s always a place where activists, artists, and ordinary people come together to think up innovative ideas. Case in point: for the past several years, activist Adrienne Maree Brown has been facilitating a popular workshop on acclaimed science fiction writer Octavia Butler and helping people think up ways to use lessons from her work in their own organizing. Now, it seems that work is branching out to places far outside of Detroit.

Allied Media Conference: Imagining the Future of Media for People of Color


[ Read Original: iexaminer.org ]


Every year, about 1,600 people from all over North America converge in Detroit for the Allied Media Conference (AMC), an experiment in social organizing disguised as a conference on media and technology. Using a participatory model, the AMC is organized by over 60 coordinators, relying heavily on feedback from attendees to shape content and structure. This past June the AMC celebrated its 15th year.

I had been hearing about the AMC for years. Many of my activist friends of color got a glassy faraway look in their eye when they talked about their experiences there. Conferences rarely interested me, especially the political ones, even if they were as diverse and as radical as everyone raved about the AMC. Frankly, I didn’t want to spend an entire weekend in the Midwest bemoaning capitalism, heteropatriarchy, racism and all the other horrible things about our world — I could do all of that really well at home! (And besides, as a community-builder and healer, I work to build a more positive approach to social justice.) However, when I heard about the Healing Justice Gathering at the AMC, I shook off enough of my cynicism and went to check out all the hubbub.