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Collectively Dreaming New Worlds: Walidah Imarisha on "Octavia's Brood" Walidah Imarisha, coeditor of Octavia's Brood.

Collectively Dreaming New Worlds: Walidah Imarisha on "Octavia's Brood"

(Photo: AK Press)What do activists and organizers have in common with science fiction writers? The remarkable anthology Octavia's Brood starts from the premise that both are engaged in the process of imagining a better world. On Using Imagination as a Tool of Political Warfare. By Nakia Brown *I am a Black woman in Baltimore, Maryland.

On Using Imagination as a Tool of Political Warfare

When I am using us, we, or our, I am speaking as a member of the greater collective of people of the African Diaspora in America. In the midst of institutional racism and the continuous murder of people of the African Diaspora upon American soil, I believe that imagination can serve as a powerful tool for political warfare. It is within our creative minds that we can develop alternative realities.

Why Black Science Fiction Studies Matter. A couple of weeks ago, a science fiction writer expressed his frustration at being pushed to the margins of science fiction.

Why Black Science Fiction Studies Matter

He argued that Black science fiction writers were not taken seriously in the speculative fiction community, and when discussed at all, were placed in categories such as New Weird or slipstream when that may not have been what they were doing at all. Why, he asked me, do all these categories matter? It’s the same question my dissertation advisor more recently posed to me. My dissertation examines how AfroSurrealism differs from other forms of Black speculative fiction, such as Afrofuturism and the AfroFantastic, but underlying my research is the more serious question–why do these debates matter?

Why should we attempt to delineate one type of speculative fiction from another? The Afro-Surrealist “An American Girl” is a digital painting courtesy of Verneda Lights, CEO of E-graphX Omnimedia. Yet today, many scholars are categorizing art in order to understand it. Essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine. Paris, Karthala, 2000, 293 p., index (« Les Afriques »). 1Cet ouvrage, paru à peu près en même temps en anglais et en français, est un recueil de textes aussi séduisants qu’originaux situés à la frontière entre philosophie politique, histoire et littérature. 2L’écriture est superbe.

Essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine. Paris, Karthala, 2000, 293 p., index (« Les Afriques »).

La langue devient instrument d’analyse, « à la fois descriptive, critique, analytique et poétique… La phrase se fait art, ou mieux, image et magie au point où le texte lui-même finit par participer d’un procès d’envoûtement » 1. Cette façon « de dire la laideur d’une manière finalement si belle » est à la fois « déroutante et inquiétante ». Car l’auteur s’implique à fond dans le courant postmoderniste pour lequel le texte devient significatif de lui-même autant que de la réalité. D’ailleurs le sous-titre le précise sans ambiguïté, même s’il s’agit davantage d’« imaginaire » que d’« imagination » politique. 3L’ouvrage est en fait un recueil d’essais, au nombre de cinq dans la version française. Indigenously-Determined Games of the Future – Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace. Video games are a path for passing on teachings, telling our stories, and expressing our ways of knowing.

Indigenously-Determined Games of the Future – Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace

Just as Dr. Leroy Little Bear and Loretta Todd share—the Internet and three-dimensional representations have always existed for Indigenous people. We have always perceived the connectivity between all and life in many dimensions. Meanwhile, our traditional games are played for enhancing our abilities and actively learning and reinforcing knowledge. With this understanding, we can approach games as a medium for self-expression with many possibilities. Science fiction and the post-Ferguson world. A grand jury in Staten Island recently declined to bring charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who put Eric Garner in a choke hold and killed him.

Science fiction and the post-Ferguson world

And in Ferguson, another grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, a police officer, for the murder of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown. Almost everywhere, outraged Americans are protesting, marching, shutting down highways, and stopping trains, but many find it difficult to discern a way forward. Walidah Imarisha, a writer and activist, coined the term “visionary fiction” to describe how we can use science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres to envision alternatives to unjust and oppressive systems. I talked with Imarisha about how science fiction can inspire us to build a more just world, where an unarmed African American person isn’t killed by police or vigilantes every 28 hours.

Reckless imagination. When I was a boy, I had a ‘family teacher’ who came to our house.

Reckless imagination

This gentleman taught several of my cousins, my siblings and me for years. He was a hard-working man, not sparing the rod (or electric wire for that matter) and taught us many things: learn by rote, regurgitate on paper. Don’t worry about understanding what the essay says or implies; memorise it. Exclusive interview with Nigerian science fiction writer, Nnedi Okoroafor. Science fiction is not a widely popular genre in the African literary community.

Exclusive interview with Nigerian science fiction writer, Nnedi Okoroafor

In fact it was deemed a fringe genre, reserved for South African writers. But this is changing. And Nnedi Okorofor is just one of the writers driving this change. 2015 has been a good year for African science fiction. Nnedi Okoroafor published three novels in less than one year; Ivor Hartman is set to release an anthology of African sci-fi stories featuring both new and emerging voices in the genre. Ventures Africa (VA): African science-fiction was not a genre that Africans read or wrote actively until recently. Oulimata Gueye: «L’Afrique est un laboratoire d’une autre modernité» Black to the future. African SFF is Still Alien. By Nnedi Okorafor Contrary to what was pounded into my head for years by brilliant well-meaning creative writing professors, science fiction is one of the most relevant and potent forms of storytelling.

African SFF is Still Alien

Science fiction carries the potential to change the world. Literally. It has changed the world. The concept of the very computer that I am using to type these words was first dreamed up in a science fiction novel. The power of imagination and narrative should never be underestimated. Considering all of this, the impact of African-based science fiction on Africa and the rest of the world could be great. Black Speculative Fiction is Protest Work. The post you’re reading is part of Book Riot’s observance of #BlackOutDay.

Black Speculative Fiction is Protest Work

We are turning our attention fully to issues facing black authors and readers with help from the folks at #BlackoutDay and #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Book Riot is grateful to have a platform to celebrate diversity and critically examine the book world every day, but today we have turned the reins over to our black contributors and guest contributors all working towards social justice and good books. Enjoy! Africa Has Always Been Sci-Fi. An African utopia in Ethiopia – On the need for imaginative ideas.

In April this year, I was honoured to give a keynote talk at the jesuit university, Xavier University. I’m sharing a video and transcript from the talk below.