Speculative Fiction and Activism:
“All organizing is science fiction. When organizers imagine a world without poverty, without war, without borders or prisons—that’s science fiction. They’re moving beyond the boundaries of what is possible or realistic, into the realm of what we are told is impossible.” —Walidah Imarisha
Politically exciting approaches to speculative fiction can be seen in the bold, brilliant works of writers like Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler, artists like Athi Patra Ruga, Tony Gum and Wanuri Kahui and artistic collectives like The Nest Collective, films like Edward Makuka Nkoloso’s Afronaut .
These practitioners exemplify the genre’s ability to create thought leadership that offers sharp critique while opening up possibilities for hope, organizing and cultural invigoration.
“Science fiction has ancient roots in Africa. Why shouldn’t it also have a future there?” – Wanuri Kahui.
The synthesis between speculative fiction and social justice organising have been explored by practitioners like Adrienne Maree Brown and Alisha B Wormsley. Within this frame, black speculative fiction is considered integral to organising and an assertion of not only the visibility and representation of organisers and movements in the future but an assertion that organisers actively make the present, have made history and will make the future.
“Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing visionary fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time” – Adrienne Maree Brown.
Adrienne co – curated Octavia’s Brood, an anthology series of science fiction by activists based in the USA – a key reference point for the creation of this book.
Nuts and Bolts
Written Submissions: 20 submissions will be selected. Selected writers will be invited to a story workshop to strengthen their selected pieces for a second draft. Each selected story will receive an honorarium of R2000. Submissions can take on any form, genre or length, poetry, prose and everything in between will be considered.
Illustrated Submissions: Prospective contributors are encouraged to submit illustrations/visual art pieces in any style that embodies an exploration of speculative fiction. Illustrated submissions will receive an honorarium of R1500 each.
Language: We do not want a future without indigenous languages and therefore we are looking to present such works. Our anthology will be presented in various languages and we would consider sharing English language translations alongside text, or for pieces where this is not practical we can share English versions online for readers who are interested.
Who are we?
Backyard Pitch is a queer bipoc social impact business based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our vision is a Global South where people are supported to move through and thrive beyond colonial legacies and structural injustices. Our mission is to collaborate with communities to re-energize cultural movements and expression, towards a future of our own imaginings. Check out our other projects at thenewnormalgame.co.za and untilweremember.co.za
Contributions to Our Move Next:
Current mainstream narratives on speculation and futurism are often capitalist and hegemonic with Africa being either immaterial or mythified, stripped of nuance and continually framed as a vacant space where natural resources are up for grabs.
Speculative fiction allows for so much more than the nightmare-scapes born of capitalist machinations a la Elon Musk’s ideas on a millionaires mission to Mars or even the slick hi-tech vibranium fuelled afro-fantasy of Black Panther.
Our Move Next is an invitation for activists and organisers to explore speculative narratives led by their own action and their own embodied ideas around what the world is and how it was, how the world could change and what it will look, feel and smell like when it does.
The invitation for this book is not for contributors to create false positives. This is a provocation to explore depictions of futures, socio-historical imaginings and alternative realities with the room to consider all kinds of alternate possibilities that sometimes the rigid framework of daunting social realism does not often accommodate.
We believe that Our Move Next creates the unique opportunity for contributors and readers to engage in justice -oriented creative social exploration.This is an opportunity to shift paradigms, honouring movement and world building work happening across borders.