Monday, June 18, 2018

Speculative Fiction Workshop in Bulawayo

The workshop participants along with Walidah Imarisha and Tariro Ndoro

The  African/American Speculative Fiction Workshop took place weekly over the past few months, with sixteen participants chosen through samples of their writing.  Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fictionscience fantasy, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, and supernatural fiction. 
The workshop, led by Fulbright fellow Dr James Arnett, included required reading of speculative fiction anthologies as well as the participants writings stories for critique. The workshop considered four texts – Blood Child by Octavia Butler, an African-American science fiction writer; AfroSF, an anthology of new African science fiction edited by the Zimbabwean Ivor Hartman; Kabu Kabu by the Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor, and Octavia’s Brood, from the US, edited by Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown. Selected stories from the texts were discussed, focusing on style and content and thought was given to the relevance to Zimbabwean social and creative settings. Participants submitted stories to be discussed at the sessions.
Walidah Imarisha
As a separate event, to which members of the public were invited, the American writer and academic Walidah Imarisha delivered a talk “Visionary Fiction and Fantastic African Futures”. The event also featured a short story written and read by Harare-based writer Tariro Ndoro and a personal essay exploring the roots of her interest in science fiction and fantasy. 
Tariro Ndoro
Walidah also hosted a hands-on visionary fiction workshop for the members of the workshop. The purpose, she explained, was to understand how science fiction was a vehicle for imagining more just futures and provided the opportunity for brainstorming creative solutions to real, present problems. Those present were asked to identify issues they were concerned about in Zimbabwe – a list that included universal health care, freedom after expression, the status and belief in African science and medicine, and others. Groups then worked together to create a world and a baseline story from which each participant could branch out.
Walidah, Tariro and James Arnett
Jane Morris and Brian Jones of amaBooks gave a presentation on the different routes to getting published and were able to attend most of the workshop sessions and were impressed by the quality of the writing produced by the participants. It is hoped that an anthology of Zimbabwean speculative fiction will be published in the near future by amaBooks.
The workshop was supported by amaBooks Publishers and the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Zimbabwe.

Working in Stillhaven garden

Tariro Ndoro

The audience at Walidah and Tariro's presentation

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