Octavia E. Butler: Expanding Science Fiction’s Horizons

For years, I’ve had friends tell me that I should be reading Octavia Butler’s works, especially Kindred. I actually own a copy, and it’s been sitting on my shelves for years, waiting for me to pick it up. When it came to the point where I’d start writing about the 1970s, it was pretty clear that Butler would be one of the authors that I’d be covering, and I picked up the book as part of my research. She’s a powerful author, and I’m a little sad that I didn’t read the book earlier. Researching Butler’s life is fascinating, and it’s becoming clear to me that some of the genre’s most important works emerge from outside of it’s walls.

Go read Octavia E. Butler: Expanding Science Fiction’s Horizons over on Kirkus Reviews.


Book Sources to come – I don’t have them on hand at the moment.

Pasadena College
Carl Brandon Society
McCarthur Foundation
SFWA Interview
LA Review of Books: One / Two

Many thanks as well to Steven Barnes, Ann Leckie and Gerry Canavan for their input for this.


8 thoughts on “Octavia E. Butler: Expanding Science Fiction’s Horizons

    • Sure there are. Specifically, I’m thinking of the way a lot of authors seem to come out of some form of Fandom, and tend to be influenced accordingly. Butler was a fan, but not part of any major group, fanzine or anything like that. There’s some other authors like that that I’ve come across.

      • Hm. Basically, I see fandom as one sort of enclosed set of influences that the general readership doesn’t generally have access to. Maybe an ecosystem is a better metaphor? Or echo chamber?

      • Perhaps. I really don’t mean to nick pick, I simply found the metaphor vague and rather open to various interpretations. Perhaps because I don’t really understand how the influences of fandom are different than people who read a lot of SF but don’t directly participate… They reading a lot of the same things and although they might not own some memorabilia or signed copies or publish in fanzines they are still reading current popular SF.

      • It’s an impression that I have: I don’t have a whole lot to back it up, but my guess is that the difference comes down the relationships fans have with one another. In fandom, conventions, letter columns, etc, fans have more contact with fellow fans, especially if you’ve jumped into that particular pool at as a teenager vs. someone later in life. Outside of that environment, you have authors who haven’t been exposed to that (or just ignore it). My feeling is that you’d see a difference between the two, in part based on some of the authors I’ve read up on for this.

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