Why collect stories about our Dreams for a Broken World?
Because our world is broken. Our society is rife with injustice and inequality, war and environmental disaster, racism and hatred.
Stories help us imagine other futures. Stories inspire us. When we read, or write, about individuals and communities fighting for justice, we grow to believe in these possibilities. Maybe we even join the characters, breaking through barriers and building new connections.
This anthology draws from both genre and literary traditions to dream together about a more just world. Included here are original stories, reprints, and novel excerpts. The mix of genres, from literary to fantastical, from dark to playful, from speculative to activist, offers perspectives that are varied, imaginative, thoughtful, and provocative.
Dreams for a Broken World brings together twenty-four authors who’ve generously offered up their work for this project. With reprints by authors such as Nisi Shawl, Ava Homa, Usman T. Malik, Aimee Liu, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Breena Clarke and original stories that include Charles Payseur, Innocent Chizarama Ilo, Robert V.S. Redick, Marie Vibbert, and Veronica Schanoes, their work traverses an array of styles, genres, and subject matter. And yet themes connect each of these stories. What does it mean to live in a fractured and uncertain world? How do we face the ugliness? How do we find a better way forward?
Dreams for a Broken World is the second charity anthology in the Dreams series published by Essential Dreams Press an imprint of Reckoning Press; charity means that all the proceeds from sales are donated to a non-profit doing work to fix our broken world. Julie C. Day is the series editor and was the editor-in-chief of the first anthology, Weird Dream Society, published in 2020. That anthology represented both an attempt to present a more expansive definition of the term “Weird fiction” and just as importantly, an effort to raise funds. As the grandchild of Nazi war victims forced to give up their citizenship, displacement has had a profound impact on the trajectory of her own family. All proceeds from that book benefit RAICES, a nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families, and refugees.
Ellen Meeropol joins Julie as guest co-editor of this second book in the series, a fundraiser for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. The RFC is a non-profit, public foundations that aids children in the U.S. whose parents are targeted, progressive activists. They also assist youth who themselves have been targeted as a result of their progressive activities. The RFC was founded in 1990 by Ellen’s husband Robert Meeropol, who was orphaned at age six when his parents, Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, were executed at the height of the McCarthy Era. The RFC helps children who are experiencing the same nightmare that Robby and his brother endured as youngsters, by funding vital services like summer camp, cultural classes, therapy, attending a progressive school, or traveling to visit a parent in prison. Since its start, the RFC has awarded more than $7.5 million to benefit hundreds of children in the U.S. progressive movements including the struggles to preserve civil liberties, wage peace, safeguard the environment, combat racism and homophobia, and organize on behalf of workers, prisoners, immigrants and others whose human rights are under threat.
Carina Bissett and Celia Jeffries, the book’s two assistant editors, have been integral to the project. Pulling the table of contents together has involved the insight and hard work of the entire editorial board.
Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and fabulism. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for several awards, including the Pushcart Prize and the Sundress Publications Best of the Net. In addition to writing, she co-edited Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americaås and teaches generative writing workshops at The Storied Imaginarium. She can be found online at carinabissett.com.
Celia Jeffries is a writer, editor, and teacher whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and literary magazines. Her first novel, Blue Desert, was a finalist for both the Independent Publishers of New England literary fiction award and the May Sarton historical fiction Award. You can find her online at celiajeffries.com.
Can stories change the world? Not alone. But as poet Martín Espada wrote, “Any oppressive social condition, before it can be changed, must be named and condemned in words that persuade by stirring the emotions, awakening the senses.”
Naming. Condemning. Stirring. Awakening. That’s what we hope these stories will do for all of us.