Remember when I confessed to not having read many short stories? And I sought to fix that? Well, the first collection of short stories that I chose to dive into was an anthology called Octavia’s Brood. It’s a collection of speculative fiction stories, essays, and excerpts. The theme that ties them all together? Social justice.
I grabbed this book off the shelf (before summer reading started) partially because I’ve heard great things about Octavia Butler. I’ve yet to read any of her stuff, though Kindred is on my summer reading list. From what the book’s introduction shared, the editors (adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha) were largely inspired by Butler’s work, looking at speculative fiction as a way to explore equality of race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability (if you haven’t heard of ableism, check out more info here).
I also grabbed this book off the shelf because a lot of my own writing marries science fiction and social justice. Bombshell explores sexism a bit.
Anyway, onto what I thought about the book. Octavia’s Brood was a well put together anthology. There was a lot of variety among the pieces, and I really liked the subject matter. The stories were innovative, engaging, and thought-provoking.
The biggest downfall – maybe the only downfall – for me was that a lot of the writing wasn’t as good as I would have liked, making it hard to read at times. This was, I think, due to the fact that most of the contributors are organizers and activists – they’re not writers by trade. It was fairly easy to tell which stories were written by writers and which were not.
However, I would say that that barely took away from the reading experience. I REALLY appreciated the vision and fresh ideas behind the stories and that inspired me to keep reading.
My favorites: “The Long Memory” by Morrigan Phillips and “Small and Bright” by Autumn Brown.
Check out Octavia’s Brood if you like science fiction, social justice (for any group of people, really), Levar Burton (it includes an excerpt from one of his books!), or Star Wars (there’s a great essay about Star Wars in it, too!).