Science Fiction Can Show Us How

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In the wake of the events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, science fiction can offer a particularly compelling alternative to illustrate a future without violence and inequality. Mary Hansen at Yes! talks with author and activist Walidah Imarisha, who coined the term “visionary fiction:”

I think that science fiction and visionary fiction, as my co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown says, are a perfect testing ground to explore the countless alternatives that could exist to policing and institutions like prisons.

It’s incredibly important that we begin to shift our thinking away from the state keeping us safe, given that that has never been the purpose of the state—it’s never been the purpose of the police or the prison system—and instead begin to ask, how do we keep each other safe? How do we prevent harm from happening? How do we address harm when it does happen in our communities in ways that are about healing, and about wholeness, rather than about punishment and retribution?


Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →