When I tell you this woman is the most amazing person I’ve never met! I guess I should begin with this disclaimer: I love everything I’ve ever read by Octavia Butler, and no one can convince me that she isn’t great. I’m slightly obsessed, and obviously way too excited, but that’s only because her creativity is everything, and I’m incredibly sad that she’s no longer here to give me more (selfish, I know)!
Born June 22, 1947, Octavia Estelle Butler was one of the best known female science-fiction writers, despite hearing from her aunt at a young age that “Negroes can’t be writers.” She won multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, and was the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur Fellowship (boasting a $295,000 cash prize). I’m not going to write her entire life story here, just because there’s so much goodness in her story and you’ve got to check it out for yourself.
I love Octavia Butler’s writing because it covers so much that is ignored. She isn’t just a Science-Fiction writer, she’s so much more than that. She covers everything from racism to sexism, classism, and more. Her writing, wrapped in this other-worldly shell, makes the reader think. Her writing challenges your imagination and your perception of what you think you know, what you think could happen. I get excited just thinking about it!
So when it came down to books that I was definitely keeping (during a recent purging of “things”), there was no doubt that I was keeping every last Octavia Butler novel I owned.
[As I’m typing this I get distracted by the fact I never acquired “Unexpected Stories”, and couldn’t remember why, so I looked on Amazon and remembered that it wasn’t in print, and then scoured the internet trying to find out if it somehow made it to print because I can’t stand ebooks and I’d really like to add these shorts to my collection, but I’ll probably end up having to download a copy and print it at home, which isn’t nearly as satisfying, but at least I’ll have them on hand.]
Kindred was the first book of Butlers that I’d ever read, and it was a great starter book considering it didn’t involve aliens or inter-species pairing. After that came (in the order I read them) Lilith’s Brood, Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, Seed to Harvest, Bloodchild and Other Stories (which I can’t find at the moment [sad face]), and Fledgling.
There are two works that I have yet to acquire–Survivor and, as noted above, “Unexpected Stories”. “Unexpected Stories” contains two short stories that were never published, and just recently became available in 2014 (eight years after Butler’s death). As I said above, I just have to download and print “Unexpected Stories” (even though I’d really like a bound copy). Survivor, on the other hand, is a little more challenging for me. Survivor only went through one printing (I believe) in the 70s because it was Butler’s least favorite part of the Seed to Harvest series. Prices on Amazon start at $90 and work their way up past $200, and, as much as I’d love to have a copy, that’s a little steep for me. So for now, I’ll keep on dreaming.
The next few posts are going to cover the books I do have, in the order I read them, starting with Kindred and finishing up with Fledgling. I’ll introduce you to the characters, plots, maybe some spoilers, and why I’m absolutely crazy about them.
In the meantime you can check out this article I cam across a few months ago titled “‘Devil Girl From Mars’: Why I Write Science Fiction”. Take a look, it’s quite interesting.
And as always,
BTW, I just started reading A Garden to Keep, a novel by Jamie Langston Turner. It’ll take me a little while to finish because it’s just my “bedtime read” for right now. But when I’m done with it, you’ll hear all about it. 🙂