|Courtesy of Goodreads
Octavia Butler, born June 22, 1947, started creating stories in her head at the age of four and by the time she turned 13, was writing stories about new worlds on her mother's Remington typewriter. After college, she earned a spot in the Screenwriters Guild Open Door Program where she captured the attention of Harlan Ellison who encouraged her to do the Clarion Science Fiction Writer's workshop, where she also met Samuel Delaney. Crossover, her first story was published in an anthology of student work. From there, she went on to publish twelve best selling novels as well as numerous short stories. She won several awards and is the first and only science fiction writer to win the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship. Butler passed away in February 24, 2006 at the age of 59.
Clockshop launched Radio Imagination in 2016 to honor Octavia on the tenth anniversary of her death with a year long celebration including a series of performances and literary events. As they so eloquently state:
With Black female protagonists, radical notions of kinship, and a keen understanding of power dynamics, Butler’s writing revamped the conventions of the science fiction genre. Butler’s bold imagining of the future has come to inform the way we live now. 2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of Butler’s death.
Exploring far-reaching issues of race, gender, power and, ultimately what it means to be human, Butler broke ground as a black woman writing science fiction—a genre dominated by white men. “I’m black, I’m solitary, I’ve always been an outsider,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Butler as saying in 1998. Her work suggested new ways of thinking and new models of working for generations of writers and artists to come
Emanuela Grinberg on CNN.com talks more about Clockwork and how Los Angeles Celebrates Octavia Butler, a Visionary among Futurists
In January of this year, Abrams ComicArts released a graphic novel edition of Kindred
More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.
Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
She has written three different series over the years: Patternist, Xenogenesis and Parables. SWFA provides a excellent chronological list of how to read her books. I currently have Dawn in my stacks waiting to be read. Find out more about Octavia through Portalist's 15 Fascinating Facts about Octavia Butler.
Join me in celebrating our author of the month and reading one of her novels this year.