Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha, editors
Fiction, 2015 | 296 pages
The two editors of Octavia’s Brood invited social justice activists who had never written before, many of whom are marginalized, to write a science fiction short story; to dream and imagine a different vision, a different way of being. The stories do not necessarily present a better scenario, but an altered reality. A few of the 22 authors are journalists and have writing experience, though not in speculative/visionary fiction. At the end of the last century, speculative fiction by black authors enjoyed a surge of interest. (Check out Dark Matter). But this work goes further, inviting writing from many walks of life, circumstances, and cultures. (Yes, the book is dedicated to and inspired by the writing of Octavia Butler, especially Lilith’s Brood.)
I am not much of a short story enthusiast. Some of the stories in Octavia’s Brood are badly written, some are well written. Some are interesting, others a little more boring. Some are profoundly clear, several are more cloudy and even confusing. However, this anthology does not read like a collection of short stories. It seems congruent to me, a unified yet diverse voice of marginalized peoples. The stories don’t overlap in any way, and yet together they feel like a “whole.” They present a rainbow of experiences, perspectives, pain, pretend, magic, possibilities, imagination.
In my Decolonization book club, we discussed the stories and then took 15 minutes to write one of our own. That was a fantastic creative experience, to write and then read each member’s tales. (Our prompt was to write a story as though one institution we know today is gone).
I found this book fascinating. I highly recommend it for immersing yourself into a new reading experience.
(I have a copy of the book, by the way, if you want it.)