Octavia Butler dies at 58

Thadlerian

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#1
Science Fiction lost a great talent friday 24th: Octavia Butler. She is known for being a female, Afro-American Science-Fiction writer and Hugo and Nebula winner. That, and for writing some most excellent Science Fiction.

Seattle Times:
For more than 30 years, Seattle science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler dreamed up fantastic worlds and religions, made-up creatures and futuristic plots. Then, in her stylistic prose, she used them to tackle the social issues she was most passionate about.
According to Seattle Times, Butler died at hospital after a fall at her home.

Wikipedia's biography:
Butler was born in Pasadena, California. Her father, a shoeshiner, died when she was young; her mother raised her in a struggling, racially mixed neighborhood. As a child, she was considered shy and a "daydreamer"; she was later diagnosed with dyslexia. She began writing at the age of 10 "to escape loneliness and boredom"; she was 12 when she began a lifelong interest in science fiction.

After getting an associate degree from Pasadena City College, she attended California State University and took extension classes at UCLA. Butler credited two workshops as giving her "the most valuable help I received with my writing": One was the Open Door Workshop of the Screen Writers' Guild of America, West, a program "designed to mentor Latino and African-American writers", which she took part in during 1969 and 1970. Through Open Door she met Harlan Ellison, who introduced her to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, which she attended in 1970.

In 1984, Butler's "Bloodchild" won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette. That same year, her "Speech Sounds" won the best short story Hugo. She won the Nebula Award for best novel in 2000 with Parable of the Talents. In October 2000, she received an award for lifetime achievement in writing from PEN.

Butler moved to Seattle in November 1999. She described herself as "comfortably asocial--a hermit in the middle of Seattle--a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive."
I've read two of her novels: Imago and Parable of the Sower. They are very different works, but both seem to have in common strong and altruist charcters in turbulent settings; worlds of change and uncertainity.

I feel I haven't read enough of her to say much else of what her books are about. Are there anyone here who have?

All I can say is that this is sad :(
 

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Shoegaze99

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#2
She was a wonderful, engaging writer who dealt with weighty issues without beating you over the head with those same issues. A true loss for the science fiction community.
 

jackokent

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#3
This is very very sad. She was a genius. I've never read anyting like her and I doubt I will again. PS worth readying Wild seed and Mind of My Mind. No idea where to start describing them both but completely absorbing. Liathian's Brood was also completely origional.
 

McMurphy

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#6
Kailana said:
Maybe it is the time for me to get around to the novel I have by her.
I know the feeling. Twice, I have had one of her books physically in my hands and on the way to the cashier counter only to change my mind at the last minute. Both times, I am sorry to say that the reason was because I wasn't in the mood for a science fiction novel centered around race issues. Bad, I know.

I heard the news on NPR while driving to work. Maybe it would be a good idea to have one of her novels as featured read?
 

chrispenycate

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#7
McMurphy said:
I know the feeling. Twice, I have had one of her books physically in my hands and on the way to the cashier counter only to change my mind at the last minute. Both times, I am sorry to say that the reason was because I wasn't in the mood for a science fiction novel centered around race issues. Bad, I know.

I heard the news on NPR while driving to work. Maybe it would be a good idea to have one of her novels as featured read?
Aaarg- I enjoyed her books while reading them (spectacularly "Wild Seed" but my copies are in England (she was amoung the few SF writers I could persuade my sister to read) and I'm not sure I could critique one from memory.:rolleyes:
 

Kailana

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#8
McMurphy said:
I know the feeling. Twice, I have had one of her books physically in my hands and on the way to the cashier counter only to change my mind at the last minute. Both times, I am sorry to say that the reason was because I wasn't in the mood for a science fiction novel centered around race issues. Bad, I know.
I know, she is an author I pick up and put down quite often, but I actually bought a book by her the other day. I think I will try and read it this month. I don't even remember what book it is... but, I have one.
 

Carolyn Hill

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#9
McMurphy said:
I wasn't in the mood for a science fiction novel centered around race issues. Bad, I know.
Unless you read Kindred, you might not feel like you are reading a novel centered around race issues, because there's so much going on in her works. Try Dawn, if you're still averse; you needn't notice the implied analogies between aliens and races.

One thing I love about her novels is their structure, interweaving characters and storylines so skillfully. It's a great loss that she is gone.
 
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#10
This is sad news, and a great loss. I thought I had already commented here, but I see that I haven't.

Kindred
is the one book over Ms. Butler's that I have read. It's an amazing book. While it is centered around issues of race, those issues were central to the story, in my opinion, and I certainly didn't feel hit over the head with them or anything. I think I read it in one sitting, and I'm not sure why I haven't picked up any of her others.
 

Parson

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#11
Octavia Butler would have been 71 today. Google's Doodle pays tribute to her. As I read through the blurb I came across this, which seemed prescient. Isn't that what S.F. is supposed to do best?

"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery."

This quote from Butler's Parable of the Talents, the second title in the dystopian Earthseed series, is particularly compelling given the novel's disconcerting prescience. Parable of the Talents details the presidential campaign of Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, a religious zealot whose violent supporters kill people of opposing religious beliefs, or anyone they deem eccentric. Jarret occasionally condemns their violence, but "does so in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear." His campaign slogan? Make America Great Again.
 

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