Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Remembering Octavia Butler: 1947-2006

Octavia Butler was one of my favorite writers and a unique voice in SF. She will be missed... The "Xenogenesis" trilogy is one of my favorite set of books--it literally reprogrammed my mind when I read it--pushing me to think about alterity. Here is a comment on the trilogy, and her writing in general, from a Voices From the Gap biography:

Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago are the three novels that make up the Xenogenesis trilogy. These stories are about the near destruction of humankind through nuclear war and gene-swapping by extraterrestrials. The extraterrestials observe the humans as being hierarchical, which causes them to be prejudiced, and to have class divisions and conflict. These characteristics make it inevitable that mankind will eventually destroy itself without the aliens' help.

Octavia Butler has been well received by the critics. Burton Raffel had this to say about Xenogenesis: the reader is "initially drawn on by the utterly unexpected power and subtly complex intelligence of her extraordinary trilogy Xenogenesis, but sustained and even compelled by the rich dramatic textures, the profound psychological insights" (454). "Butler's work is both fascinating and highly unusual," Rosemary Stevenson writes; "character development, human relationships, and social concerns predominate over intergalactic hardware" (208).

"I'm not writing for some noble purpose, I just like telling a good story. If what I write about helps others understand this world we live in, so much the better for all of us," Octavia Butler told Robert McTyre. "Every story I write adds to me a little, changes me a little, forces me to reexamine an attitude or belief, causes me to research and learn, helps me to understand people and grow ... Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself" (Stevenson 210).

Octavia Butler, 1947-2006: Sci-fi writer a gifted pioneer in white, male domain

Bibliography of her fiction and critical works

LiP Interview: Reinventing Our Heroes

NPR: Butler Speaking at the World Conference on Race/Interview with Scott Simon

Scifi.com audio production of her groundbreaking novel Kindred

The Bat Segundo Show Interview (also T.C. Boyle)

Michael Benton's review in Reconstruction of her last novel Fledgling

Democracy Now: Science Fiction Writer Octavia Butler on Race, Global Warming and Religion

Locus Interview: Persistence

Black America Web Obituary

Washington Post: Read Her Award Winning Story "Bloodchild"

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