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Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,914 ratings  ·  403 reviews
Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing visionary fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. This book brings twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. The ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published March 15th 2015 by AK Press
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Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I love speculative fiction that reflects political activism and intersectionality, and found a lot of the ideas to be interesting. I would've loved to have seen them expanded into a full-length novel because many of them feel incomplete or end abruptly. There were quite a few stories where I could tell this was an author's first published work, resulting in a dip in the quality of writing or a choppy story. Because of that, the anthology is inconsistent with not many stories that stood out to be ...more
I love Octavia Butler, I love her stories and her ideas, love sci-fi, and I am more than happy to try any creative writing that aspires to inspire radical and revolutionary political activism. The thought of Butler's writing giving birth to a generation of speculative fiction activists who use the written word to support the intentional dreaming of radical movements as they/we struggle towards a better, free-er future -- that thought is sends chills. It gives a few extra ticks to the beating of ...more
For conception, experimentation and and variety I give the book four stars; for well-executed fiction, I give it 2.5 or 3. There were a couple stories I really liked - mostly in the 2nd or 3rd parts of the book. I tried to mark all of those in the updates. The last three or four pieces are essays. Tananarive Due's essay about Octavia Butler as a speculative storyteller and inspiration is well worth a read for its distillation of Butler's recurring themes, little tidbits about the early AfAm spec ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This collection of stories isn't perfect, but how could it be. It is more like a collection of passionate conversations held around a dinner table with brilliant people, terrified and exhilarated for the future. Some are clumsy in their passion, some are cooly pessimistic, some are flighty with imagination, some grounded in present day inequality. I love this book and I will reread it over and over. This is the future, both of writing and of humanity. ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Prognosticators
Recommended to Alan by: Multiple factors: io9; theme; a bit of local interest
Make no mistake: Octavia's Brood belongs. It is modern sf—an anthology of speculative fiction (including both science fiction and fantasy, wherever you draw that line) from authors both known and unknown, collected here in honor of the late Octavia E. Butler by editors Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha (who is a local, by the way—on the faculty at Portland State University!). This anthology contains dystopias and utopias, angels and aliens, genetic engineering and time travel—even a coup ...more
An anthology of 20 stories--many of them quite short--of visionary fiction: speculative narratives that explore marginalization, social justice, and radical social change. Many of these stories come from activists who have never written fiction (others are poets, writing here in prose). The lack of experience shows in clumsy, unconvincing worldbuilding, hamfisted social justice themes, and a general dearth of technical skill. There are a few happy exceptions, like the density of "Evidence" by Gu ...more
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Octavia Butler united us in a way, as one of her books suggested, as kin. She united all who have needed worlds where we could find inclusion, because for so many of us, painfully, we have met with some form of exclusion or another. During an interview once someone asked Octavia what made her write the way she did; what drove her. She responded, “You’ve got to write yourself in.” To paraphrase, if you don’t already see yourself in a world, then you write yourself into it.
I can’t say that I love
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Add a new category to your bookshelves (and your life): "visionary fiction." This impressive collection, a publication collaboration by AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studies, defines the genre as connecting science fiction with social justice. There are 22 authors contributing the stories that comprise this volume, and their bios, printed at the end, provide an additional dimension of enjoyment and interpretation for the book. They all are community activists of various sorts (an amaz ...more
Lis Carey
As the subtitle makes clear, this is an anthology with an agenda, and it's an agenda that will inflame certain parties in recent kerfuffles in the science fiction community.

That said, this is an enjoyable collection. The stories are varied in setting, viewpoint, and kind. There's an incipient uprising against both a horde of zombies and the politically repressive response to the zombie horde. There's a gentle story of a woman attempting to reconnect with both her dead grandfather and her very mu
Victoria Law
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Amazing collection, but many of these short stories seemed like they wanted to be longer works. Several times, I turned to the last page of a story and thought, "That's it? Where's the ending?" But even though many of the stories seemed to leave me dangling, the authors build worlds or futures that suck you in and create characters that you want to keep following. Here's hoping that they continue writing (and that some of them pick up full-length book contracts to continue building those worlds ...more
ash c
One of the joys of reading science fiction is the vastness of the genre and the speculative nature of it. Science fiction is, more often than not, the genre that challenge mindsets, addresses social issues, prompts imagination of different realities. It asks the questions "Why are things this way" and "Why can't they be another way". By its visionary nature, it is well-suited tackle topics of social justice such as gender norms, sexuality, discrimination, work and labor, and more. So I was very ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This incredible collection of stories is as important as it is fun and fascinating. Sure, not all the stories are brilliant or perfect, but most of them were compelling and many left me wanting more. I laughed out loud, cried, had my expectations continually exceeded, and was very sad to finish the last story. In fact I put off finishing this book for months because I didn't want it to end.

The themes of change, struggle, spirit, and hope in the face of extreme challenges are reminiscent of Butl
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book calls upon the knowledge, creativity and experiences of folks fighting for social justice. The stories in here use many themes Octavia Butler focused on: community, interdependence, shaping the future, dreaming of the stars and surviving as a human race worth saving. There are stories of resistance and resilience (Hollow by Mia Mingus), characters who choose to fight for humanity despite great personal cost (Black Angel by Walidah Imarisha), and a warning about allowing history to be f ...more
Reading this I'm reminded of a collection of Voltairine de Cleyre's work I have that includes her forays into fiction. There is a certain earnest conviction and honesty about the work but it just isn't good and often borders on unreadable.*

I found the same to be true about too many of the stories in this collection to be able to recommend it (regardless of how much I may sympathize with the authors' points of view).

I'm also reminded of When the Music's Over (subtitled: "An Anthology of Tales Aga
Dec 13, 2015 rated it liked it
+2 stars because I respect Walidah.

I feel so many feelings about this book. You know when you want to like something SO MUCH, because it's something your friend made, or something on your team did, but no matter how hard you try, you can only see the things to work on? That was this book. The folks who wrote these stories are all strong bad-asses in their activism, but write spec-fic like they need to clobber the reader with their politics. I'm already on board with the politics, that's why I'm
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great anthology of writers who have been impacted by the legendary, Octavia Butler. It’s always a welcomed fresh air to read sci-fi though the African/African Diaspora lens.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
I have a great deal of respect for the concept and the actual badass organizing work the authors and editors do. I think the writing workshops & other events Octavia's Brood does as a group are incredibly innovative and necessary. But as for this book... I wish I knew who the audience was supposed to be. I would recommend giving it to that one cool relative or acquaintance in your life, who perhaps loves mainstream media sf but has not been exposed to much critical analysis of how it upholds whi ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I was extremely interested in the premise of this collection: speculative fiction built around social justice movements and/or concerns of today. And, the collection partially lived up to the hype, with intersectionalities of race, gender, sexuality, reproductive rights, social class, and spirituality confounding the direction(s) we may or may not be taking as a society. And a damn good story by Levar Burton--why did no one tell me he's an author?!

Other stories in the collection were dull, or ev
This has been the year of Octavia Butler and her legacy for me. I have never considered myself much of a science fiction reader because I don’t care about the names of gizmos or how space parliaments work. But Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, might just change me. The editors frame this collection of stories as visionary fiction and argue that all science fiction is political: It is about imagining a futu ...more
Sam Musher
The premise of this collection is that anytime you're doing social justice work, you're writing speculative fiction -- a premise I adore, as a person who became captivated by, and formed by, both social justice and science fiction at the same very young age. The writers of these stories are mostly not fiction writers but activists, shaping their activist vision into speculative fiction for the first time. I've never read anything like it.

The writers are virtually all of color, as are the editors
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mourning the end of this magnificent collection of stories
Nikki Morse
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Concept: 5, writing: 3. The stories were uneven - but the idea of visionary fiction and the role it plays in organizing is beautiful and so necessary. And the really good stories carry the rest.
Clementine Morrigan
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really incredible. Highly recommended.
Whenever we try to envision a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism, we are engaging in speculative fiction. All organizing is science fiction. - Walidah Imarisha

So begins the introduction for this excellent collection of science fiction short stories by writers dedicated to social justice, from more well-known figures like Tananarive Due and LeVar Burton to frontline activists, several of whom had never even written fiction before. In their dedication to bring
Sally Ember
I was very excited to get this anthology, Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, after watching a video with two of the anthology's authors who were the ones who conceived of the project and edited the volume, Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown, and because I was a big fan of Octavia Butler's original science-fiction stories and novels. Many of the stories in this collection are worthy of being included by their poetic, social-justice, imaginative language ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved the premise of this anthology: “visionary fiction,” or speculative fiction rooted in and building on social justice movements, a modern-day challenge to conventional science fiction that replicates dominant power structures (even while purporting to question them). And this book delivered, over and over again. I was captivated by almost every story in the collection, which is impressive when you consider how difficult it is to ensure consistency and quality across so many different autho ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the idea of this collection... two Black women (with visions of a better future and inspiring collective dialogue) bringing together activists, writers, radicals, and artists of color to write short sci-fi stories with a focus on social justice, change, liberation, and race. This anthology feels like an experiment and I like that. Some of the stories fall a little flat or feel a little trite (even corny) or are less masterful (or fully-formed?) than what I'm used to reading, but maybe tha ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is another anthology that has pushed me into the realm of deliberation, contemplation, and wonderment. If I taught an English course, several of these stories would be on the syllabus. If (when?) I teach an intro to archives course "The Long Memory" by Morrigan Phillips will be the first reading on the syllabus. I loved these stories because they took me out of the center of the world and put me on the edge of an experience that I fundamentally cannot relate to. But I the best manner of fic ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sumayyah by:
Octavia Butler had a strong sense of social justice that was apparent in all of her work. The pieces collected here follow the blueprint that Sister Butler left behind. Exploration of ancient/collective memory, alternative reality, beings of light, and even the zombie apocalypse are not only not off limits, but embraced and used to draw parallels between this society and whatever comes next. "Hollow" by Mia Mingus, "Children Who Fly" by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and "Kafka's Last Laugh" ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
So I totally spaced and forgot to add this book to my reads for this year.

i read these stories out of order, as I typically do with most anthologies.

this anthology contains some beautifully tender, heartbreaking, gripping stories about what liberation can look like. it's a must read for those not only interested in PoC sci-fi but for people who want to read some seriously talented writing and want some hope for the future
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adrienne maree brown is the author of Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World and Octavia’s Parables podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Detroit.

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