Lit Loves: Octavia Butler, The Grande Dame of Science Fiction

062212-national-this-day-black-history-octavia-butlerImage via BET.com

It’s no secret that here at ModCloth, we love literature. Science fiction happens to be my favorite genre, so today I’m paying homage to Octavia Butler, the grand dame of science fiction.

As an African-American woman writing science fiction in the early 70s, Butler broke through boundaries and shattered expectations. Her first novel came out in 1976, and throughout her career, she wrote unflinchingly about difficult issues such as race, intimacy, and identity.

Butler’s works are challenging and thought-provoking, as the best science fiction often is; she created characters and worlds that are at once horrifying and awe-inspiring. From the wrenching realities of slavery in Kindred, to the exploration of what makes us human and where the boundary lies that in passing would render us inhuman, in her Lilith’s Brood series, she manages to make the alien seem familiar and the unthinkable uncomfortably easy. I love that her books feature strong, African-American female characters who work to solve their own problems — there are no stereotypical damsels in distress here.

Butler booksImage via Cultural Front

Though Octavia Butler wrote a vast collection of novels, her single short story collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories, is my personal favorite. But, you don’t have to take my word for it — the title novelette won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Science Fiction Chronicle Awards. Butler was also the first science fiction author to be awarded the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

She died in 2006, but left a legacy of greater than a dozen books and a handful of short stories. The Clarion writing workshops, where she both studied and taught, created the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship in her honor, and it has been awarded to a writer of color every year since 2007.

To read more about Octavia Butler and check out some of her amazing books, be sure to visit her website. If you’re looking for inspiration, I recommend reading some of the interviews she gave throughout her life and the various tributes dedicated to her memory. — — By Jamie, Customer Care Advocate

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1 Comment

  1. Katie 02/01/2014 at 10:27 am #

    I picked up Kindred last year and could not put it down once I began. Octavia Butler was brilliant with her stories and the language of those stories.

    I really need to read more of her books. Thanks for reminding me of that!

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