June 22, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Octavia Butler’s birth. Even though she passed away in 2006, Butler’s work has left an indelible mark on American literature, and specifically on the genre of science and speculative fiction.
As a child, Butler described herself as incredibly shy. When she wasn’t helping her widowed mother, who cleaned houses for a living, Butler made herself at home at the Pasadena Central Library, hooked on fairy tales and horse stories. Later, as a teenager, her interest turned to science fiction. Her work incorporated themes like critiquing the status quo, what it means to be human, and the creation of new, alternative, and diverse communities.
Butler’s work has been highly lauded both during and after her lifetime. She won several awards, including several Hugo and Nebula Awards. In 2005, she was inducted into the International Black Writers Hall of Fame at Chicago State University, and even after her death she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. She even has an asteroid named after her, and a mountain on a moon of Pluto!
You can learn more about Octavia Butler by using PLYMC’s online Author Resources.
To read Butler’s work, check out these examples available at PLYMC:
Parable of the Sower is available both in hard copy and ebook format. Parable of the Talents, its sequel, is also available both as a hard copy and an ebook. Damian Duffy also adapted this series into a graphic novel.
The short story collection Bloodchild and Other Stories contains Butler’s award-winning short story “Speech Sounds.”