January 18, 2019

Writing the Future

        Later this afternoon I will be at the Arisia convention, on a panel with four other writers to talk about “Stories to Change the World.”  As any regular reader of this blog knows, this is a topic I get pretty excited about, so I thought I’d slip in one more post before the panel.  This is to direct you to an article by Walidah Imarisha.  Imarisha says “When I tell people I am a prison abolitionist and that I believe in ending all prisons, they often look at me like I rode in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow.”  That’s understandable, because a world without prisons would be very different from the world we know, and it’s a little hard to get our heads around what that might actually mean.  And that’s exactly Imarisha’s point and mine: speculative fiction is one of the best tools we have for helping us get our heads around ways of being that are different from the ways we currently know.  Imarisha can write stories depicting a world without prisons, showing me what she envisions that might look like, and then I can start to imagine it, too.
        Of course, if Imarisha writes a story in which a prison-less society is a great thing, someone else can write a story depicting all the worst case scenarios of why they imagine this would be a terrible idea.  Neither of these stories would be a True and Accurate Prophecy of what would happen, but that isn’t the point.  Imarisha’s coeditor adrienne maree brown “calls science fiction ‘an exploring ground,’ a laboratory to try new tactics, strategies, and visions without real-world costs.”  The point is simply to break us out of the myth of “realism” to see that other possibilities are possible.  Once we start to imagine what might happen if we made different choices, and what a world could look like if we took other paths, then we are better able to decide which world we want, and what the steps might be that could move us toward it… and what steps we may want to avoid.
        Read Imarisha’s article, Rewriting the Future, and then look to the right of this post in the list of Labels in the sidebar, and click on the Label “Arisia’19: Stories to Change the World” for a selection of other posts that explore this aspect of speculative fiction.

[Picture: Der Gefangene (The Prisoner), woodcut by Christian Rohlfs, 1918 (Image from moma).]

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