This post was originally published at NJ Spoken Word, Tuesday, February 28, 2006.
A dear friend, Aberjhani, shared the news of Octavia E. Butler’s death with me this morning. Known as a gifted pioneer in a genre of the industry dominated by white males, the African-American author was the first Science Fiction author to receive a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”
Butler, 58, died Friday, February 24, after she fell and hit her head outside her Seattle, Washington, home. You can read more details of her life and death here in the Seattle Post-Intelligence.
I first became aware of Octavia E. Butler’s work through the Seeing Ear Theatre’s website, which was at the time affiliated with the Sci Fi Channel. There I listened to an outstanding audio production of her book Kindred. Fortunately you can still listen to the book today at this link: http://octaviabutler.net/kindred-audio-drama. The production stars Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, and features Ruby Dee.
Since then I’ve walked into other Butler worlds such as the Patternist series (my favorite is Mind of My Mind) and most recently her new book Fledgling. She is one of the few writers who can draw me into characters and setting and make me forget I am here on planet Earth. I still recall her people and her words in my daily life. I look forward to continuing my read through her works, and I mourn the literary world’s loss.
Additional Octavia Butler Links