Alex Wade | First 5 LA Communities Senior Program Officer

February 6, 2024

Last October in South L.A., while attending Rising Communities’ 2023 Policy Forum – Fantastic Futures, I witnessed a ‘transformative’ panel discussion on the 20-short stories anthology “Octavia’s Brood, Intersections of Science Fiction & Social Justice.” The panel featured African American authors, poets, a journalist, filmmakers and musicians including the compilation’s co-editor Walidah Imarisha and contributing authors Vagabond and Dr. Tara Betts. They engaged in sobering and forward-thinking conversations on how the literary art form is addressing today’s social justice issues using science fiction as a tool.  

Octavia’s Brood is dedicated to the late American science fiction writer Octavia Butler and seeks to draw connections between social justice themes and speculative fiction – a genre most easily defined as reimaginings and what-if stories about the world. In a collection of “visionary fiction” the contributors explore current social issues such as capitalism, climate change, gentrification, immigration, etc. through the lens of science fiction and with the goal of social change. 

Be by Awadé

As an artist, witness to this captivating panel discussion, and part of a systems-change agency reimagining futures for L.A. County children and families – First 5 LA, I have gained an interest in exploring how works like “Octavia’s Brood, Intersections of Science Fiction & Social Justice” can influence my creativity – going beyond the literal sense to incorporate more color, boldness, and excitement. Art is a vessel that allows us space to imagine the possibilities for a better future.  

“The past is painful. The present is vicarious, but the future is free. We always see ourselves in the future.” – Erika Alexander 

Learn more: Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author and multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula science fiction literature awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. More on Octavia E. Butler 

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