Octavia Butler--updated

Even I, avowed non-reader in the SFF categorey, knew and admired the work of Octavia Butler. She died this weekend at age 58. Galleycat, as usual, has the scoop.

Here's another place to read more about her, an interview at Jelanicobb.

I found her when she wrote "Parable of the Sower" and didn't have to read much to be uterly drawn in and engaged.

If you've read her, what did you most like about her writing?

(Thanks to Cindy for the heads up on the interview link)


Brown Braided Woman said...

I liked that she wrote a novel about time travel that included slavery. I liked that described herself as an "oil and water mixture of ambition and laziness, insecurity and certainity ..."

A very good friend of mine had the opportunity to interview her. She was in awe of her and of course fumbled through the interview, starting to cry when Ms. Butler said after hearing yet another question about symbolism or sacredness, "you're an English major aren't you?"

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Sheesh, English majors are worse than History majors. You just know they are. We historians never fumble or cry except on Tuesdays. Tuesdays we give up to lament! Don't we?

Octavia Butler was a believable writer. One enjoyed her stories, was sucked into them, and didn't have to step out of them to figure out what she was doing.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to work at her neighborhood bookstore for many years. She had a very commanding presence, which made her life difficult since she could also be quite shy.

KINDRED was the first book of hers that I read and it made me a fan for life -- not as much for the story it told, which was an important one, but for the honesty and depth of her characters.

The other thing I liked about her -- she had a dry sharp wit and had little patience for pretension. Made for some pretty swell author events.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know of Octavia nor do I read SFF but Ed has a very nice post at

Anonymous said...

I liked that she made me care deeply for Doro of Wild Seed, when Doro was powerful, amoral, and well, basically, a villain.

Anonymous said...

I was so depressed this morning when I read about her death that I nearly cried. In fact, I teared up a few times, and I've been thinking about her all day.

I loved that her characters were so real that I felt like I could walk out the door and they would be there.

I loved the way her books were so prophetic. In Parable of the Talents, she had a right wing fascist president from Texas, and she wrote this poem in the early 90s:

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 told lies.

To be led by a tyrant
is to sell yourself
and those you love
into slavery.

I loved that she used story to explore what it means to be "other"--a woman, an African American, a vampire, for Pete's sake. I NEVER read vampire books, but I had to read Fledgling because it was her first book in seven years. And of course she came up with an entirely new twist.

I am devastated because I wanted so many more books from her. And I wanted to meet her.

Cindy (Devastated in Ohio)

Ana Lee Kennedy said...

Her death is sad, but the way she died really bothered me.

Anonymous said...

Kindred was, of course, brilliant, but it was such intense reading. That skill was, no doubt, what won her the Macarthur genius award.

Butler had a deceptively easy style that made reading about intense subjects (slavery, humanity's future, human behavior) quite easy.

I appreciated Kindred, but I have to admit I enjoyed her Xenogenesis series, in which aliens came to Earth to save humanity from itself - but there's a price to pay for that salvation.

I also enjoyed the hyperempath she depicted in Parable of the Sower.

Anyone who can write about aliens and mutants and make them both relevant to everyday life and also enjoyable reading has my respect.

Sigh. It's a shame our favorite writers won't be alive for, well, forever.

Wow, this is the first loss for me of my one of my favorite authors.

--A Snarky Reader

Anonymous said...

She was one of my favourites. So many science fiction writers with great imaginations still end up portraying worlds where the gender roles and other social roles are pretty much exactly what ours are.
Octavia Butler, in her Lilith's Brood series, is one of the very few science fiction writers who imagined a world that is both believable and genuinely different from ours. And because of that, she shone a light on many things about our own world.

Mizrepresent said...

Although it took me many years to read her, i had heard of her greatness. I just recently read "Parable of the Sower", after watching an online interview of her talking about her most recent book. I was in awe of Ms. Butler, her goodness, and ethereal presence was felt, no glass screen, to tv tube could contain in....and well in her writing she was able to accomplish much of the same. She made a true beliver of me, and i intend to read and study her works....in many ways, and this may sound strange to some, i simply felt Ms. Butler was a gift to us, ...i felt that she was akin to and yet alien to this world...and in her limited time here she sought to enlighten us...and enlightened i am.

Anonymous said...

I liked that she challenged some of my preconceived notions. The SF bookclub collected a couple of her pieces into a book titled Xenogenesis. It had me asking myself what would you do to survive and what does it really mean to be human. Not small questions. She made me think and entertained me at the same time.


Anonymous said...

In Fledgling, she had what I found to be an entirely new take on the vampire novel, which is a rarity. I enjoyed the straightforwardness and simplicity of her writing, as well as her willingness to take on relevant social issues through her genre.