This piece is part of a series on visionary fiction we’re running on OneZero to examine how future culture can affect change now. In her companion feature about the growing genre, Walidah Imarisha, author, educator, and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, explains how stories about the future are imperative to helping us build a better one. (Stories like Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, which we also published in full.) Here, Imarisha gives us a reading and viewing list of works of visionary fiction that will help us get our minds into gear.
Visionary fiction is fantastical art that helps us understand and challenge existing power structures — and supports us in imagining paths to dreaming and resting more just worlds and futures. It is intricately connected to community organizing and liberation movements. It centers the narratives, vision, and leadership of those who are marginalized and oppressed, especially those at the intersections of identities. Visionary fiction helps us imagine different relationships to power, and change within that art is decentralized, collective, nonhierarchical, and anticapitalist.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all visionary fiction, or of all radical speculative fiction. Rather than seeing these suggestions as the definitive word, instead, think of it as a few different starting points, a choice of doors to enter in through, knowing there is so much more waiting for you.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Anything by Octavia E. Butler could go here honestly — Butler’s work informed so much of my conceptualizing of visionary fiction (we even named our anthology Octavia’s Brood in honor of her!). Her work has always been prophetic and prescient, but it is eerily relevant today, especially the 1993 Parable of the…