Announcing a New Project Dedicated to Imagination, Collaboration, and Resilience

A patchwork quilt in many colors
Nina Miller/Center for Science and the Imagination

“The only lasting truth is change,” Octavia Butler wrote in the prescient novel The Parable of the Sower. As the ground shifts under our feet and we ponder the far-reaching effects of this global crisis, Butler’s words ring truer than ever. Uncertainty abounds even in the best of times, and our responses to it determine our fate. Understanding, anticipating, and responding to change is at the heart of science fiction—envisioning ourselves amid the strange and the fantastic attunes us to the unexpected and helps us chart a course to a better future.

With this in mind, Future Tense’s partners at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University is proud to launch Us in Flux, a weekly series of flash fiction stories and virtual events about community, collaboration, and collective imagination in the face of transformative change. (Future Tense is a collaboration between Slate, ASU, and New America.) But these aren’t tales of the apocalypse, or even stories about our current public health crisis. We’ve invited talented authors, scholars, and creators of all stripes to give us glimpses of new worlds; of people and systems in transition; and of the different ways we might flourish in times of adversity.

Every Thursday morning, we’ll publish a new, original story on the Center for Science and the Imagination website and will host an online public conversation with the author and their special guest the following Monday afternoon.

The first piece in this series is “The Parable of the Tares” by Christopher Rowe—an arresting short story about food, monoculture, and communities that draw together the human and nonhuman.

Then, on Monday, April 13, at 4 p.m. Eastern, Christopher will be joined by Michael Bell, professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for a deeper dive into “The Parable of the Tares.” During the event, Christopher and Michael will talk about the origins of the story, their shared passion for agroecology and politics, and issues of food security, monoculture, and communities that bridge the human and nonhuman. The discussion will be broadcast live on Zoom and available on-demand shortly after. Register today.

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.