Octavia E. Butler went where no Black women writers had gone before – her writing is out of but of this world! Butler was the first science fiction writer to ever receive the MacArthur Fellowship. And though Butler can be considered a science fiction writer, she was much more. Indeed, Butler did not want to be shackled to a genre, for very good reasons. Her “science fiction” is unlike the science fiction written by white males, who dominate the genre.
I was not a big science fiction fan. I am not a Trekkie, even though I sporadically watched the Star Trek series as a kid and I’ve watched a number of the various movies. I didn’t come to science fiction as a fan until my early 20’s, when my “book buddy” recommended Dune. I read the first book and then devoured the next four in the series. Shortly thereafter I discovered Octavia E. Butler, who is considered the godmother of Afrofuturism. Butler’s sci-fi is different than the typical fare because Black writers look at the world through a different lens than white writers, although some of the same themes are addressed. My favorite book by Butler is Wild Seed, which has two Black Immortals, Doro and Anyanwu. My next favorite books by her are The Parable of the Sower (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and The Parable of the Talents. Biblically literate people will know these parables, but they should read Butler’s take on them. Can I get an Amen?
This book recommendation, Kindred, is probably Butler’s most well know novel, and if you haven’t read her, then begin with this book.
I would recommend any book by Butler, for anyone who likes a good story. Don’t think of Butler as a genre writer. She defies being categorized!
I hope, with my book recommendations this Black History Month, that I have become your “book buddy.”