Social Justice Sci Fi : Octavia’s Brood is SCC’s Community Read

By Coral Nafziger

The Community Read is a program at SCC meant to draw people on campus together around a single book. The 2016-17 school year is the second year in a row that this book is the short story collection, “Octavia’s Brood”.

The namesake of this book is Octavia Butler, the award-winning science fiction author who grew up in California and lived in Lake Forest Park, Washington from 1999 until her death in 2006.
Butler is known for writing sci-fi that explored ‘isms’ such as racism, sexism and classism. She often featured black female protagonists and used sci-fi tropes as metaphors for personal and systemic human problems.

For “Octavia’s Brood”, co-editors Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha enlisted social justice activists to write stories inspired by Octavia Butler. Each story is based off its writer’s experience as an activist, and placed into a science fiction context. Shapeshifting and racism, for example, are two themes of the story, “Runway Blackout”. Another story, “the river”, features a supernatural body of water and gentrification.

Story: Runway Blackout – This story is about shape-shifting supermodels who get tired of being asked to shapeshift into caucasian women for fashion shows and they protest by going on the catwalk in their natural skin color. The face was left blank intentionally to represent the ability to shapeshift.
(Illustration by Luis Vicencio)

For Community Read activities this quarter, SCC will bring local writer and artist Anastacia Tolbert to campus to lead writing workshops at 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Jan. 25, Feb. 7 and Feb. 22 in the PUB Room 9208.

Tolbert is described in the promotional materials as a “queer super-shero of color.” She is also a poet in residence at the Hugo House.

A recording of Tolbert reading her poem, “What To Tell My Sons After Trayvon Martin, After Michael Brown, After Medgar Evers, After, After, After, After and Before…” can be found in local radio station KUOW’s archives and is a must-listen.

Story: Kafka’s Last Laugh – Main character, Resister Fernandez, is protesting in front of the Wall Street. Illustration drawn in Illustrator using Wacom tablet.
(Illustration by Sonja Bodi Bujišić)

Several teachers on campus have joined the Community Read by assigning projects around one story or more.

Many students in SCC’s visual communication technology program have pieces in their portfolio illustrating a story of their choice from the collection — an assignment given last year in VCT 134 — Adobe Illustrator: Vector Graphics by teacher Christine Schaffner.
More VCT 134 student work based on Octavia’s Brood is currently on display in PUB Room 9203.

Story: Black Angel – This story is about an an angel who was cast out of Heaven by God for caring about humans. What struck me most was the angel’s contradiction – her intense anger at God mixed with her overwhelming sadness and longing for God. In this image tried to capture her pain. (Illustration by Alison Czech)