Science fiction has long been the genre of choice for social commentary. By breaking away from the everyday real world and presenting alternative realities, it offers a safe haven for making statements on controversial or otherwise sensitive topics. Unsurprisingly, as a speculative fiction type, sci-fi is also a favourite genre choice for the visionary fiction writer, myself included. But just as not all visionary fiction is sci-fi, not all sci-fi is VF. Even so, with both being used for social commentary, the line that distinguishes the two can occasionally seem blurred. This is exactly what happened recently when the VFA came across a writer who was promoting a kind of fiction for which she had chosen the term “visionary fiction”.
Writer and activist Walidah Imarisha has mainly written poetry and non-fiction, but she has co-edited the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements named after sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler. The book is described at its website as “visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists,” and elsewhere co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown describes the book as offering “a way to uncover the truths buried in the fantastical – and to inject a healthy dose of the fantastical into our search for truth”. Imarisha has also said about what she means by visionary: “If its weird and it helps us build new just worlds, that’s us.”
When in January 2015, VFA editor Margaret Duarte first sent the VFA editorial board a link to an interview of Imarisha I was especially interested, since I spotted some key words that corresponded to my own VF, in particular justice, and systemic. (My novel Systems is about a quest to create an … Continue reading