Posts Tagged ‘Octavia Butler’

Today is International Women’s Day, and I’m feeling fine. If you’re interested in learning more about the sorts of women who are often shunned by history, check out this sampling of women who dared greatly:

Historical awesome:

And in a bit of modern-day awesome, NASA has named the Perseverance landing site after Octavia Butler. How cool is that?

Speaking of NASA:

Inspiration much? Yes, thanks!

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In related news, we finally watched Terminator: Dark Fate and enjoyed the heck out of it. I’ll admit to avoiding it, a bit. Lackluster reviews, messed-up timeline issues (which earlier movies were we supposed to ignore and which not? oy), plus the “Yeah, you’re not the threat. It’s your womb” series concept kept me from watching it sooner. 

Now that I have, what did I think?

Let’s just say that the ladies kick ass.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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Future History

Yesterday it was Black History Month and today it is Women’s History Month. It seems like the perfect day to spotlight American science fiction writer Octavia Butler. 

Nikolas Coukouma, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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Who was she?

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author. A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, she became in 1995 the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.

— Octavia E. Butler – Wikipedia

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What makes her work special?

I think the first Butler book I read was The Parable of the Sower, found in the interesting section of the family’s bookshelves. It had a woman’s name and a black image on the cover. Count me in, I said. And then it got interesting.

This was no whitewashed far future in space, or something like Heinlein’s more recognizable near-ish futures. We begin in a devastated California, raw and gritty and often painful, but with hope and purpose to bind it together into a larger whole. 

This NPR show talks about her work and what made it remarkable:

Octavia Butler: Visionary Fiction‬

She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warnings is her message of hope — a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perished in her books, came a story of rebuilding, of repair.

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Where to start?

She became the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship, and the first Black woman to win Hugo and Nebula awards. Today her influence spans literature, genres and media.

— The Essential Octavia Butler – The New York Times

These links lay out her work and explore her growth as a writer. Explore more to get a better sense of what she wrote and why.

Where to Start with Octavia Butler | The New York Public Library

“‘Devil Girl from Mars’: Why I Write Science Fiction”

In 1998, Butler delivered an address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She describes the thinking behind several of her works of fiction and her motivations for writing. It is essential reading for understanding the social consciousness behind the beloved writer’s oeuvre. 


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I won’t lie. Butler’s work is good but can be challenging, not least because of the way it takes a visceral look at who we are and what we can be (both the good and the bad). In many ways, I think of her writing as a more realistic, more historically-informed vision of our future than many of the rah rah space travel versions of sci-fi. Unless we change, that is.

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Or, what I read with my morning tea. Entertainment, edification, and associated weirdness? Yep, these articles have it all. Enjoy!

And via the good people at io9:



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