WbyW Reflections: Science Fiction as Activism with Ama Josephine Budge

by Layla Myers (Word By Word member)

For the third workshop in Word By Word’s 12 month series, Ama Josephine Budge (speculative writer, artist, curator and pleasure activist) shared her expertise and passion for science fiction writing as activism.

Like most of the attendees, this was my first in-person event of this kind for a long time - and my first venture into science fiction writing. Ama instantly created an atmosphere that was welcoming, safe and inclusive. Having no prior experience writing in this style wasn’t an issue in the slightest; Ama held space for playful exploration.

We were sucked into a sci-fi wormhole brimming with surrealist humour, supernatural fantasies and eerie dream-scapes. Ama not only shared her deep knowledge and contagious obsession with speculative fiction, but walked us through loads of writing exercises.

We experimented with free writing, microfiction, world building and creating protagonists. For me personally, I found the exercises so freeing because we were encouraged to wholly embrace the absurd. The more outlandish the better. It was so much fun!

In fact, I laughed more than I thought I would in a writing workshop. But in hindsight, it makes perfect sense why discussions of sci-fi and activism would be doused with humour. I’ve always found that the best comedy reveals profound truths about societal injustice.

As Ama explained so succinctly, there’s so much more to sci-fi than far-flung, fanciful worlds. We’re not absorbed into these strange stories merely for futuristic escapism - quite the opposite. Powerful speculative fiction is intimately tied to our reality in the present, uncovering the absurd contradictions of our oppressive political landscape. It offers not only poignant reflections of our past, but opens the possibility to envision a better future.

Ama cited this quote from Samuel R. Delany, which really sums up my experience of the workshop: “Science fiction is a tool to help you think; and like anything that really helps you think; by definition it doesn’t do the thinking for you.”

Ama’s workshop truly stretched the imagination. I left with even more curiosity than when I entered, bursting with a sense of creative possibility.


There are 9 more workshops to go in the Word By Word Presents series, led by a range of incredible professional writers.

No prior experience necessary. We are particularly welcoming people of colour, LGBTQ+ folk and other marginalised voices.

Tickets for our next workshop, Re-rooting through Poetry with Belinda Zhawi will take place on Sunday 12 September at Delina Kitchen (Shepherd’s Bush).

Don’t forget to spread the word with anyone you know who might benefit from these workshops, we want to welcome as many people as possible to have a go.

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