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Exploring social change through science fiction

Apr 14, 2015

Credit AK Press

Octavia's Brood, a science fiction anthology being launched this week in Detroit uses, the genre as a form of social activism.

The anthology's title is a nod to Octavia Butler, one of the first black female sci-fi writers to gain recognition, including a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

Butler published 12 novels and a collection of short stories, many of which feature young, black female protagonists who constantly adapt to new conditions.

"Her protagonists were not only unique in their identity, but unique in the way they approached changing the world around them," says Adrienne Maree Brown, a Kresge Literary Fellow, writer, and co-editor of the anthology.

Brown has dubbed the anthology "visionary fiction" because it allows writers to explore sci-fi with marginalized characters at the center of the story.

"We have authors who are not only envisioning, but they're doing the work to build a different future or to build their version of justice, their version of equity, their version of love in a world that is safe for them," says Flint performance artist Tunde Olaniran, who authored one of the stories in the anthology.

The collection hopes to explore how movement-building in social activism is different from the singular hero saving the day, as seen in most mainstream sci-fi and often portrayed in news coverage of activism within the real world.

The anthology includes 22 stories and two essays, featuring contributions from notable sci-fi writers, such as Terry Bisson, along with former Star Trek star Lavar Burton.

This Saturday Detroit's ArtX will feature a launch party with writers and contributors reading their pieces with an accompanying live score and short films.

Brown is excited for the launch, saying, "The part to me that's been really important is the radical space to celebrate each other."

Olaniran had little experience writing before being included in this project, and he offers the advice for writers, "Start. Just start something."

--Katrina Shafer, Michigan Radio Newsroom