Wild Seed

by Octavia E. Butler

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Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism: What if...?


We couldn’t be more excited to ask What if…? at this year’s Big Question, feature Octavia E. Butler’s brilliant novel Wild Seed across our Discussion Projects, and explore it together at Readers Retreat 2022!

Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism: What if…?

With so many strange and horrifying things happening in the world, so many things changing quickly for better and for worse, so many old patterns of power, disparity and oppression entrenched, and the future as uncertain as it always was, only feeling a little more so, 
what if we could turn to Afrofuturist and Africanfuturist literature to show us a way forward?  

Afrofuturist and Africanfuturist speculative fiction lets us ask, what if…?  

Although the artistic and aesthetic practice pre-dates 1994 by many decades, the term “Afrofuturism” was coined in Mark Dery’s 1994 essay, “Black to the Future.” He used the term as a way to characterize the artistic work African American artists had been creating that placed Black ways of being in an advanced technological future.

Historically, Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism has and continues to embrace so much more than what Dery laid out in his essay. As an aesthetic, Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism bridges art, literature, and music. It uses a Black cultural lens to take in the past and the present and creates a speculative future or an alternative present for us to grapple with. Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism begins with the premise that there can be a future for Black and African-descended people that either begins with Black liberation or provides a clear pathway towards Black liberation. For all of us, the genre opens doorways to new ways to engage with natural environments, new ways to create community, and new ways to survive and thrive. 

Our Book Selection Committee

Evadne Bryan-Perkins (she/her) is a Black/Wateree River Iswä, Actor, Balladeer, Drummer, Keeper of the Charlie Parker Epigraphs (John Connolly), ASL Girl & Beader. She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up & live.

LaLa Drew (they/them) experiences life as a Black, queer, nonbinary, transracial adoptee. They are a poetic joy seeker/word weaver, organizer, activist, and healer. They live and love on Unceded Abenaki territory, where they exist with pitbull, Eli. They are also a facilitator and speaker with the Maine Humanities Council.

LeeAnn Floyd (she/her) never actually existed and if I did, I died in a bizarre threshing accident in 1932. Or LeeAnn Floyd is a Black autistic author of Speculative fiction and fantasy in Maine. One of those statements is true.

Daniel Minter (he/him) is a renowned and visionary American artist known for his work in the mediums of painting and assemblage. He is a visual storyteller and accomplished illustrator. Minter teaches at Maine College of Art and is the Co-Founder of Indigo Arts Alliance.