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Publisher's Summary

Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision and try to create such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown have brought 20 of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. The visionary tales of Octavia's Brood span genres - sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism - but all are united by an attempt to inject a healthy dose of imagination and innovation into our political practice and to try on new ways of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and all the selves and worlds that could be. The collection is rounded off with essays by Tananarive Due and Mumia Abu-Jamal and a preface by Sheree Renée Thomas.

©2015 Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown (This edition 2015 AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studios) (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Those concerned with justice and liberation must always persuade the mass of people that a better world is possible. Our job begins with speculative fictions that fire society's imagination and its desire for change. In adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha's visionary conception, and by its activist-artists' often stunning acts of creative inception, Octavia's Brood makes for great thinking and damn good reading. The rest will be up to us." (Jeff Chang, author of Who We Be: The Colorization of America)
"Conventional exclamatory phrases don't come close to capturing the essence of what we have here in Octavia's Brood. One part sacred text, one part social movement manual, one part diary of our future selves telling us, 'It's going to be okay, keep working, keep loving.' Our radical imaginations are under siege and this text is the rescue mission. It is the new cornerstone of every class I teach on inequality, justice, and social change.... This is the text we've been waiting for." (Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American studies at Princeton University and author of People's Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier)
"Octavia once told me that two things worried her about the future of humanity: The tendency to think hierarchically, and the tendency to place ourselves higher on the hierarchy than others. I think she would be humbled beyond words that the fine, thoughtful writers in this volume have honored her with their hearts and minds. And that in calling for us to consider that hierarchical structure, they are not walking in her shadow, nor standing on her shoulders, but marching at her side." (Steven Barnes, author of Lion's Blood)

What listeners say about Octavia's Brood

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  • Susie
  • 15-06-2016

Octavia Would Be Proud

Octavia Butler would be proud of these writers. Her influence and imagination are all over these stories. "Tragic times do not beg for complexity," an observation in the first story is a terrifyingly topical note on how demagogues take power, one that reminds me of reading her "Parable" series during the white supremacist resurgence of the Nineties. It all felt so on the nose.

The stories are strong throughout and hold up a necessary and vivid mirror to the current political climate while remaining enormously entertaining.

Butler broadened the horizons of science fiction for millions. She grabbed the reins from the predominantly white men filling the shelves and asked what time travel, extra terrestrial contact, and the post-apocalypse could say for her. The children of Octavia that fill this collection, too ask how can speculative fiction bring their needs, their fears into view. And they succeed.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Torai Sona
  • 25-01-2017

Wonderful collection, disappointing narration.

The stories are fascinating and offer unique perspectives and visions for the future. I am so glad to have a collection like this.

But the narration was distractingly bad. Pausing every few words, inflection inappropriate for the tone of the story... it was hard to listen to and made it sound like they hadn't preread the stories at all. I wish I had ordered a text copy of this book.

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  • Jordan
  • 25-07-2016

This was my intro to AfroFuturism/VisionaryFiction

I liked some of the stories, struggled to finish some, and just plain skipped others. Some of the stories seemed to have been written by professionals with experience in both writing and social justice "fields" and others seemed to have been written by novices or inexperienced students.

Overall I'm glad to have purchased this. I would recommend this for those new to the AfroFuturism genre and maybe even grade school to highschool classrooms.


The voice actor was a bit corny at times and off on her portrayals. For example, one story featured an old woman whose voice was supposed to sound like a young woman but the narrator read all of her parts with a stereotypical raspy old lady voice. Overall she did a good job. I say this while under the impression that this was made for

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  • Olivia Wylie
  • 01-03-2021

A Truly Powerful Collection Of Tales

Whether taking us into a steampunk past, a magical sideways or a sustainable future, these tales hold a power and a magic that will leave you better than they found you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cy Hy
  • 27-07-2019

I don't know how to say it.

I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a long time. The writers are fantastic, writing rich speculative fiction, and you can practically hear Octavia over their shoulders, whispering in their ears. I especially love Hollow, because authentic disabled people and chronic pain sufferers are extremely underrepresented in fiction. Wish that one could be made into a novel or series of novels. My one nitpick is that Aftermath was only an excerpt with a cliffhanger. It can't be listened to in audio format, so that is a bummer.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 21-05-2016

A themed anthology that's worth your time

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 hoard of zombies and the politically repressive response to the zombie hoard. There's a gentle story of a woman attempting to reconnect with both her dead grandfather and her very much alive daughter, in an alternate history where the Civil War started in 1859, and the slaves won. A woman has to decide how she's going to react to a government that's finally responding to global warming, in a way that may be both too much, and not enough. One choice will cut her off from her mother and the place she grew up; another will cut her off from her partner and her life now. Is there a third choice, and can she do it? A young man who is the token black superhero opts out of the nonsense--until he finds out how he matters to young people, and a away to make a contribution that matters to him.

The authors include names all sf readers will recognize, like Tananarive Due and Terry Bisson, and people who've never written sf, or even fiction, before. Possibly for that reason, there are a number of stories that I read and thought, that's a set-up for a story I'd like to read the rest of...

Having said that, while there are a number of "beginning, middle, no actual end" pieces, there's nothing here I didn't enjoy. There's nothing here that has that special sense you get when mainstream writers go slumming and assume that "science fiction means it doesn't have to make sense." All the writers here respect their readers and their material. The editors didn't excuse lesser work because they wanted a particular name or a particular theme included. Despite being an anthology with an agenda, there's no pounding the reader over the head, except to the extent that happens with any themed anthology when you read straight through rather than dipping in.

I'll carry away from it a particular fondness for "The Token Superhero," by David Walker, and "The River," by Andrienne Maree Brown.

I've been saying "read" throughout this review; that's a very loose usage. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator's voice is excellent, strong, clear, and expressive.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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  • SDS
  • 10-09-2021

Liberal Wet Dreams Equal Nightmarish Reading

First- I am an electric car driving, LGBTQIA+ supporting, Democrat voting, BLM marching, mask wearing liberal. I was REALLY looking forward to these stories, ESPECIALLY after the dumpster fire the last 5? 50? (I’ve lost track) years have been. I was extra excited after LeVar Burton recommend them on his podcast. How could I possibly go wrong?!!? Well, very easily it seems.

The vast majority of the stories present interesting concepts and would make for a decent story if placed in the hands of experienced writers, and reviewed by professional editors. That did not happen here.

They lack story arcs, or clearly defined obstacle they must (and hopefully do) overcome. Endless narrator exposition, very little action or dialogue.

The good characters are ALWAYS good (even when they do a "bad" thing, it's because they have good intentions), and the bad characters (pretty much anyone in a position of authority) are always evil. There's no nuance, no real struggle to figure out what's right, no empathy building. No surprises of any kind. An off putting general sense of smugness and sense of moral superiority pervades most of them.

Perhaps it's the incredibly flat and toneless reading by Je Nie Flemming that makes this collection seem completely devoid of subtlety and life. I swear she has the same inflection as the auto generated voice over on TikTok videos that reads the text on the screen. I can hear her pause in odd places where the end of the text line she’s clearly reading is. Her attempts to produce different character voices are cringe-worthy. I may have been spoiled by the dulcet tones of LeVar Burton though.

I am glad to see that the reviews haven’t been swamped by racists and bigots. That gives me hope that this has flown under their radar, which is good because it doesn’t do those fighting for social justice any favors.

Disclaimer- I’ve only gotten to the end of the one about the food striking political prisoners. So disappointing that I don’t know if I can continue. Not the healing balm I thought it would be.

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  • Christopher Knapp
  • 30-08-2021

Distracted

I loved the book, the stories were wonderful. The reader was bad. She seemed to just power read through the whole book, like the faster she read, the quicker it would be over. When she did slow down and do different voices, it was way better, but then she sped back up and it distracted me from what the story was actually about.

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  • hannalisa
  • 11-06-2021

Lousy audio on this book

I like the stories, but the audio wasn’t crisp at all. I realize the narrator was pronouncing names I was unfamiliar with, but the overall sound was fuzzy and many times I really couldn’t follow the story well because I couldn’t hear the names well enough to grasp them. And, this was listening with headphones, too!

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  • L
  • 19-10-2020

A sensational book

I am blown away, what a brilliant listen. Beautiful stories with some wonderful thoughts of the future. there is a great mix of Sci-Fi here and I loved it.

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  • Camila
  • 03-01-2021

Disappointed

I still have it on my shelf because I've been exchanging books so much, however I have struggled in every story and doubt I'll finish. This is a book for teens or quite possibly for older kids. As an adult I find it really hard to engage and enjoy. The stories so far are very predictable and cheesy, seems wrong to have Octavia's name in the title. Not for me.

1 person found this helpful

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