Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Octavia Butler, the first African-American author to gain national prominence in the field of science fiction, died last Friday at the age of 58.

Rather than focusing on technology and dystopian future visions, Butler explored themes of identity and race, using science-fictional elements to drive her stories forward.

Unfamiliar with Butler? Read Wild Seed, a novel I first heard of by reading Orson Scott Card’s deconstruction of Butler’s carefully crafted prose. It’s a remarkable book with a scary protagonist: a man - a creature - who can wear other people’s bodies as easily as you or I can put on a T-shirt, killing them in the process.

Hers was a unique voice in a literary genre that is dear to me. Ave atque vale, Octavia, and Godspeed.

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