“Whenever we try to envision a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism, we are engaging in speculative fiction.’”
Walidah Imarisha, Introduction to Octavias's Broad, p. 11
For the 2022-2023 academic year, Community Reads will be focusing on the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, with an overarching theme of visionary fiction. Walidah Imarisha defines visionary fiction as “science fiction that has relevance toward building new, freer worlds . . . Visionary fiction encompasses all of the fantastic, with the arc always bending towards justice. We believe this space is vital for any process of decolonization, because the decolonization of the imagination is the most dangerous and subversive form there is: for it is where all other forms of decolonization are born.” After years of collective trauma and shared grief and burnout, amidst crises of war, natural disasters, a pandemic, and systemic injustice, we hope our community will take up this challenge of dreaming differently, transforming our minds, and imagining a different, more just world.
Each quarter, we will be focusing on a different short story from the text, as well as framing words by editors Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, to explore the unique ways that these authors are dreaming the world. Our first quarter selection will be the story “Revolution Shuffle” by poet and essayist Bao Phi, in which the main characters revolt against systemic racial targeting and internment in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. In addition to this short story, we will also be reading the introduction to Octavia’s Brood by Walidah Imarisha and the outro by adrienne maree brown, for an understanding of the principles of visionary fiction that will animate our work throughout the year. Further information about the story and authors can be found below.
We are planning to hold a synchronous discussion event for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss the story, our themes, and our visions for our campus and our world. Event details can be found below.
In addition to this event, we also plan to put together an anthology of visionary fiction throughout the course of the year, soliciting community submissions inspired by the readings, the themes, or the concept of visionary fiction in general. Stay tuned for further updates on the details of this project.
Contact members of the team via email with questions, comments, or concerns:
Join us for our first synchronous discussion event in almost three years!
Date: Tuesday, November 15
Time: 1:00-2:30 PM
Location: LB1-205 (library building, second floor) or Zoom (registration link here)
Join us for snacks, a discussion of Octavia’s Brood, and an opportunity to dream collectively about how to reimagine our world. Our readings for this quarter can be found below, but you're welcome to attend whether you've read all, some, or none!
Food will be provided, but out of care for your community members, we request that you wear a mask when not eating. Free disposable masks can be found at the entrance to the library.
Let’s dream a new world together!
This event is subject to all UW protocols regarding preventing the spread of COVID-19. All attendees are expected to comply with the university's vaccination requirements. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home and avail yourself of our remote option.
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha. E-book available in the UW Libraries catalog. UW NetID required for access (for Cascadia community members who do not have a NetID, please visit the CC Computing Services NetID website to get started).
For Fall Quarter, we will be focusing on the short story “Revolution Shuffle” by Bao Phi. This short story provides a glimpse into the lives of two revolutionaries seeking to liberate forced military camps of Asian Americans and Arabs in the wake of a zombie apocalypse that has divided the country and exacerbated racial targeting by the state and the military. Despite the desperation of their situation, and the injustice of the system they are set against, the heroes of this story demonstrate a human, hopeful struggle against grim odds. Though written before the COVID-19 pandemic, this story echoes similar targeting that continues to occur in our current world.
"Bao Phi is a poet, essayist, and performer whose creative and critical work has been published in a range of publications. “In addition to his creative work, he was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador award in recognition for his community work, and has published essays in topics from Asians in hip hop to Asian representation in video games. He has been a guest speaker at numerous events and for various entities, such as Giant Steps and Bushconnect. Currently he continues to perform across the country, remains active as an Asian American community organizer, and is the Program Director of Events and Awards at the Loft.” (from http://baophi.com/about/)
“adrienne maree brown grows healing ideas in public through her multi-genre writing, her music and her podcasts. Informed by 25 years of movement facilitation, somatics, Octavia E Butler scholarship and her work as a doula, adrienne has nurtured Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism, Radical Imagination and Transformative Justice as ideas and practices for transformation. She is the author/editor of seven published texts and the founder of the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, where she is now the writer-in-residence.” (from https://adriennemareebrown.net/book-me/)
“Walidah Imarisha is an educator, writer, public scholar and spoken word artist. She has co-edited two anthologies, Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements and Another World is Possible. Imarisha’s nonfiction book Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption won a 2017 Oregon Book Award. She is also the author of the poetry collection Scars/Stars, and in 2015, she received a Tiptree Fellowship for her science fiction writing.” (from https://www.walidah.com/home-1)
Image Credit: Milbert Orlando Brown/KRT