Anarchist Bookfair — two words some people may not associate with one another.
However, at the 20th annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday, Apr. 25, which took place at the Crucible in West Oakland, anarchists from all over the state attended and traded hugs. Some exchanged tips for protesting and ways to radicalize science fiction. Also in attendance were over 60 vendors who sold books, patches, shirts and tasers.
While it may seem contradictory for an anarchist bookfair to have items for sale, the vendors were committed to a more radical approach of sale and profit. Most people there did not mind the vendors, as the event itself was free.
A recent article on SFGate critiqued the event’s set up as a book fair, and emphasized the buying power at the event.
“People don’t seem to understand the difference between making a buck to eat and getting money to spend on crap.” Andy Murillo said in response to the article.
One of the most popular seminars at the bookfair was Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction and Social Justice. The seminar was led by Adrienne Brown, one of the curators of Octavia’s Brood, an anthology of science fiction authored by social justice organizers and activists. Brown mentioned that while she uses the term “sci-fi” she and others in the genre call what they write “visionary fiction.”
The seminar discussed how this type of visionary fiction can be a type of radical organizing. Brown also facilitated world building, where she asked the audience to create a story on the spot. The crowd came up with the protagonists Politickin’ Kay and Deliah, and nano-technological pigeons that were sent out into 2020 Oakland from crazed right-wingers living on Alcatraz Island. While the plot of the group’s story got some laughs, Brown said that no matter how absurd the topics may be, truth and organizing are really important in science fiction, just like organizing an anarchist or political movement.
“Our work is really visionary ficiton, and what we mean by that is that I’ve heard many times in my life is that politics kills art, and you cant inject politics into art without it just becoming pure propaganda or not necessarily interesting quality,” Brown said. “But the idea behind visionary fiction for us is that we wanted stuff that was still high quality, that was still something you read and you feel deeply moved by the characters …but it’s explicitly taking on the ideas around social justice and social issues.”
Other seminars included subMedia.tv: A Decade of subversion, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of anarchist news and media group; Fighting a Police State: From Mexico to Ferguson; and Anarchy on the Shop Floor: Anarchists in Contemporary Labor Struggles.