“The stories we tell can either reflect the society we are a part of or transform it. If we want to bring new worlds into existence, then we need to challenge the narratives that uphold current power dynamics and patterns.”
-adrienne maree brown, Octavia’s Brood
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.
For the last two quarters, we have focused on short stories within the text, pulling out different themes and ideas and authors, along with words from the editors of the collection. We have spent the last two quarters reading visionary fiction written by others and discussing our questions, our appreciations, and our frustrations with other people’s stories. This quarter, we plan to move into a more creative space, to apply this tool of visionary fiction to our own imaginations and our own community. We want our community not only to read, but also to share our visions of a better future. We want to know what kinds of worlds you are dreaming, and we want to give you space to share them with us.
Instead of reading a new short story this quarter, we will focus only on 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. Beyond that, our programming will surround our Community Reads Visionary Fiction Anthology, a digital space for community members to share their own writing - fiction, poetry, reflections, and more. We intend to host creative space for community members to work on their own writing - as a personal practice, or to share in our community anthology. We are also thrilled to collaborate with Dr. Dan Berger to host Walidah Imarisha, one of the Octavia’s Brood editors, for a virtual event about visionary fiction.
In the meantime, we encourage you to check out our own community visionary fiction anthology site. You can learn more about the project here. For inspiration, prompts, and community ideas, feel free to visit our Idea Pool.
For 2023 Earth Month, Community Reads has partnered with the UW Bothell and Cascadia College Sustainability Offices to think about visionary fiction in the context of environmental change and environmental justice. In our dreams of a better world, we cannot neglect the world itself; environmental justice is social justice. The programming for Earth Month is based on the book and project Drawdown (available as an ebook through the UW Libraries), which focuses on solutions for the climate crisis. In partnership with the Sustainability Office, we have designed a series of prompts for visionary fiction based on this book and on the concept of environmental justice. These prompts can be found on the Idea Pool page and on the Earth Month website. If you respond to one of these prompts, your work may be highlighted on the Earth Month website.
In response to the visionary fiction in Octavia's Brood, and our hopes for our own community vision, Community Reads invites you to a creative event focused on brainstorming and writing our own visionary fiction. Join us for snacks, writing prompts, and community conversation about what troubles us about the world - and how we might imagine it differently.
Date: Tuesday, May 16th
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM
Location: LB1-205 or Zoom (register here)
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).
“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