(Re)Writing the Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction

a poster bearing the words "all that you touch you change"

Roughly 100 people packed into the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland on December 5th, excited to spend their Friday night talking about science fiction. For the event, (Re)Writing the Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction, I moderated a conversation between Grace Dillon, an Indigenous Studies professor who edited the first-ever book of Indigenous science fiction stories, and Walidah Imarisha, a Black Studies scholar who is also co-editing the upcoming collection of science fiction by activists, Octavia’s Brood.  I loved talking to Imarisha for our recent feminism and sci-fi podcast, so I was excited to talk with her in front of a live audience. 

In the second half of the night, Dillon and Imarisha led the crowd in a writing exercise: everyone wrote one page of an encyclopedia that would come out in 2070. This futuristic Peoples’ Encyclopedia offered a look back on current realities like prison policies, border disputes, and Ferguson. The encyclopedia was printed on the spot and stapled together as a zine, while participants also printed their own posters bearing a quote from science fiction author Octavia Butler (above). 

peoples encyclopedia

The entire 45-minute conversation between Dillion and Imarisha is captured on video—listen to these thinkers discuss how science fiction from Battlestar Galactica to Superman reflects the values of our science and how visionary fiction can help us imagine a more equal world. 

Thanks to Adam Murray of Brighthouse Films for recording and editing this video! This event is part of the IPRC’s “Creative Heights” series made possible by a generous grant through the Oregon Community Foundation.

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. She just read Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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