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

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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!

 

Walidah Imarisha, Mae Jemisin and more!

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and to mark the occasion we’ve put together a list of just a small sample of women currently doing groundbreaking work in the fields of science and tech. History has overlooked or undermined women’s achievements in these areas in the past, and there’s still a clear gender divide today: Women areunderrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and continue to face issues from unconscious bias to open harassment. Here are just 26 women across disciplines whose work Motherboard has been keeping an eye on.

"Perhaps best known for coining the term “visionary fiction,” Walida Imarisha is an activist, author, academic, and editor who’s pushing boundaries on the sci-fi frontier. Last year, she was behind the essential Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, an Octavia Butler-inspired work that linked activism to speculative fiction."

Read the full piece!

Walidah Imarisha - What is Visionary Fiction

"What is ‘visionary fiction’?

Visionary fiction is a term I developed to help talk about fantastical writing that helps us imagine new just worlds. Visionary fiction encompasses science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternative timelines, and more. It is fantastical literature that helps us to understand existing power dynamics, and helps us imagine paths to creating more just futures.

Part of the reason I wanted to create this term was to be able to talk about science fiction (and the other genres mentioned) and be able to differentiate from mainstream science fiction which so often just replicated the power inequalities of this world and grafts them onto the future."

Read the full piece!

Octavia's Brood on CNN!

Butler's inclusiveness -- and the struggles of those communities -- is what makes her work resonate among the latest generation of activists.

"Octavia's Brood" is an anthology of fantastical science-fiction stories written by American organizers and activists, published in 2015. It's since become a community of writers, artists and activists who see aspects of Butler's work as a blueprint for organizing.

"Our realities are not utopian or dystopian, they are realistic and hard, but hopeful," "Octavia's Brood" co-editor Walidah Imarisha wrote in an email. "And that is what (Butler) pulls out in her work. As much as the inclusion of marginalized characters at the center, the principles and values which embody positive change have so many lessons to teach us."
 
Read the full piece!

We're in Nisi Shawl's Crash Course in Black Science Fiction!!

Octavia's Brood was deeply honored to find ourselves on Nisi Shawl's Crash Course in Black Science Fiction - the list includes all the people Walidah and adrienne read and loved as we became Brooders. Here's what Nisi said:

 

"Octavia’s Brood — In putting together this anthology, brown and Imarisha searched for what Octavia E. Butler called “change-the-world fiction.” From Sheree Renée Thomas’s thought-provoking preface through Ethiopian American hiphop poet Gabriel Teodros’s time-travel story “Lalibela” to Tananarive Due’s reflection on Octavia E. Butler, “The Only Lasting Truth;” this is a richly rewarding book, extrapolating what will come from what has been, bravely facing the future."

 

The piece was reprinted by Tor.com in a piece called 

This Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction will Change Your Reading Life!

We agree!

adrienne maree brown's ArtChangeUs Contribution

"organizers tend to take ourselves so seriously. i was in a sort of closet for a long time as a sci fi reader, because i was sensing strategy and guidance in the pages of fiction, in the words of black sci fi writers like octavia butler, samuel delany, jewelle gomez, in the anthology dark matter. i was reading feminism and decentralization in ursula le guin, network and chaos theory in william gibson.

when i peeked out a bit, i began to share my suspicion that the realm of science and speculative fiction could be a great place to intentionally practice the futures we long for, and that there were writers doing that, that butler was a leader amongst them – there were so many others quietly thinking the same thing!

one of those thinkers was walidah imarisha."

Read the full piece here! http://artsinachangingamerica.org/2016/03/01/nyc-launch-highlight-the-response/

Octavias Brood Inspires Books to Prisoners Drive at Shoreline Community College

"The partnership is the brainchild of Shoreline’s Reference & Instruction Librarian Chloe Horning, who was inspired by the campus Community Read of Octavia’s Brood, a science fiction anthology exploring issues of social justice.

“I’ve volunteered with Books to Prisoners in the past,” said Horning, “and have been inspired by their commitment to increasing social equity by encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement through books. With the introduction of Octavia’s Brood to campus, and the in–depth discussions about equity that anthology is prompting amongst the campus community, I just felt like the time was ripe for a collaboration with Books to Prisoners, as prison justice is one of the most important social justice issues facing society today.”"

Read more here!

Microcosm Names Us On Star Wars Decompression List

Did you dress up and attend Star Wars The Force Awakens, shamelessly groaning with pleasure? 

The editors may or may not have shown similar behaviors :-)

We're hinored to be part of the come down.

Check out the full list here: http://microcosmpublishing.com/toplists/122

Black Nerd Problems Calls Us "Best Anthology 2015 Bar None"

"There are SO MANY Anthologies! The vast majority of Speculative Fiction produced is in short story form, and the best way to get into all the different authors and subgenres available is through anthologies. The magazine market is where Speculative Fiction really started (like most popular fiction). However, it has of yet, hasn’t produced any dedicated titles just for POC writers. (Let me know I you know of one!) So if you want to go a-sampling through the bazaar of Black Speculative Fiction looking for your new favorite author, an anthology is the best way to go. Publication in an anthology is a great stepping stone for new authors who are sharpening their skills (and who may be trying to build an audience towards their first great novel).

And there are many that are wonderfully edited. This past year, Octavia’s Brood was bar-none the best, especially as it explicitly focused on the social justice aspirations implicit in so much Black Speculative Fiction. Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany also came out this past year. I’m aiming to get in a review of that one early next year."

Read their full round-up here: http://blacknerdproblems.com/black-speculative-fiction-the-view-from-here/

CBC Says We're Best of Season!!

Daniel Heath Justice picks: Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown 

Octavia's Brood

Octavia's Brood, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, was published in March 2015. (AK Press)

"I can't say enough awesome things about this book. It's a collection of mostly stories that cross borders between science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy and horror. Not all of the authors are professional writers, but they are all coming out of social justice movements and organizations. They're all looking at variations on what we call "visionary literature," and thinking about how our imaginations can change the future in a time when things are looking pretty scary. In all of the stories, they're projecting a future where the struggle is being realized through diversity of experience and perspective, and where there's a place for people of colour, queer folks, poor folks and rebellious folks."

Read the whole list here: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thenextchapter/trevor-cole-and-the-season-s-best-sci-fi-and-fantasy-1.3371337/the-best-sci-fi-and-fantasy-of-the-season-1.3371350

We Made Ms. Magazine's Top 10 Feminist Books of 2015!!

"Shhh… I’m imagining a better world. So are the writers of Octavia’s Brood! Written by activists and organizers from around the globe, this otherworldly collection of visionary short stories employs some pretty radical speculative fiction to imagine worlds free from war, prisons, capitalism and oppression. For science fiction fans looking to explore the final frontiers of equality and social justice, this anthology will take you where no beings have gone before—out of this (unequal) world."

Read the whole piece: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2015/12/23/your-holiday-reading-list-top-10-feminist-books-of-2015/

Octavia's Brood on Holiday Shopping List!!

OMG!!!

Innosanto Nagara, the creator of A is for Activist and Counting on Community, an incredible children's book, made a list for Buzzfeed of holiday gifts that work for "activisty" families. There are a lot of fantastic childrens book on here, and we made the list!

He said: "I was never much of a science fiction fan myself, but this, I can get into. And so can the teenagers in my community household. And pretty much everyone I know who reads. If you’re not sure who in the family to get this for, I’d say give it to all of them."

 

Check it out here!

 

Octavia's Brood on Al-Jazeera!

Can science fiction spur social change? Sci-fi often evokes images of space travel and future technology, but fantasy worlds are also being used to examine attitudes towards sexism, racism, violence and other injustices. Through imagination and prose, sci-fi writers are challenging the status quo to create alternative realities. We'll speak to authors using the genre to critique our existing universe.

Walidah Imarisha is a guest, along with Daniel Jose Older, Zen Cho, and Mark Oshiro. adrienne maree brown makes a guest appearance!

Watch the show!

adrienne maree brown Chosen as Ursula le Guin Fellow 2015-2016

adrienne maree brown, an independent science fiction scholar and a social justice activist, has been chosen as the 2015-16 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow. Brown lives in Detroit, Michigan, and is the coeditor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, published last March by AK Press, San Francisco.

The Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, now in its third year, is sponsored equally by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in the Knight Library.

Read more!

Walidah Imarisha wins the Tiptree!!!!

The Tiptree Fellowship program, created earlier this year, is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. Each Fellow will receive $500. The work produced as a result of this support will be recognized and promoted by the Tiptree Award.

Walidah Imarisha is working on several projects that work with the concept of visionary science fiction. One project is  a new collection of poetry called Tubman’s Uncertainty Principle. These poems explore Black women’s freedom struggles historically, currently, and futuristically through a poetic framework of quantum physics. Imarisha is also  is writing a novel that expands on her short story “Black Angel,” originally published in the anthology Octavia’s Brood.  Imarisha writes,

With characters like a big-haired grumpy Black woman/fallen angel turned reluctant superhero, a Palestinian anti-racist skinhead, an undocumented girl whose parents have been sold to a sweatshop, I explore issues of crime, punishment, gender, sexual identity, war, race, faith and religion, xenophobia, colonialism and redemption.

 

Read all here! http://tiptree.org/welcome-to-the-website-of-the-james-tiptree-jr-literary-award-council/whats-new

 

WOOHOO!!! 14,000 Copies Sold!!

We are so incredibly happy and honored to say that, including print and e-books, Octavia's Brood has almost sold 14,000 copies! To celebrate, our publisher AK Press is offering that until the end of November, people can use coupon code "WOOHOO" on their website to get 25% off anything (including however many copies of Octavia's Brood, hardcopy or ebook, you might want)! http://www.akpress.org/octavia-s-brood.html

adrienne and Walidah on Black Market Reads

Black Market Reads is a weekly talk show about Black literature, creativity, and cultural production, brought to you by The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, and featuring Black artists who love to read. - Hosts: Erin Sharkey and Junauda Petrus.

Walidah and adrienne got to sit down with them to talk about Octavia Butler and social change.

Listen here!

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine reviews Octavia's Brood!!

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine reviews Octavia's Brood, and says the writers have remarkable talent: "Their passionate voices demand and deserve to be heard; the fervor and confidence and power of their imaginations ensure that they will be."

We're experiencing full nerd joy about this :-)

Read the full review!

 

adrienne maree brown's #ArtChangeUs Speech!!

Watch this incredible speech by Co-editor adrienne maree brown at the launch of #ArtChangeUS in New York, October 26, 2015:

http://howlround.com/livestreaming-the-launch-of-artchangeus-arts-in-a-changing-america-new-york-mon-oct-26-artchangeus