Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.
Born in Pasadena, California, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Butler found an outlet at the library reading fantasy, and in writing. She began writing science fiction as a teenager. She attended community college during the Black Power movement. While participating in a local writer’s workshop, she was encouraged to attend the Clarion Workshop, then held in Pennsylvania, which focused on science fiction.
Butler’s rise to prominence began in 1984 when “Speech Sounds” won the Hugo Award for Short Story and, a year later, Bloodchild won the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Award for Best Novelette.
In the meantime, Butler traveled to the Amazon rainforest and the Andes to do research for what would become the Xenogenesis trilogy: Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989). These stories were republished in 2000 as the collection Lilith’s Brood.
During the 1990s, Butler completed the novels that strengthened her fame as a writer: Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998). In addition, in 1995, she became the first science-fiction writer to be awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, an award that came with a prize of $295,000.
In 1999, after her mother’s death, Butler moved to Lake Forest Park, Washington. The Parable of the Talents had won the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Nebula Award for Best Science Novel, and she had plans for four more Parable novels: Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. However, after several failed attempts to begin The Parable of the Trickster, she decided to stop work in the series.
In later interviews, Butler explained that the research and writing of the Parable novels had overwhelmed and depressed her, so she had shifted to composing something “lightweight” and “fun” instead. This became her last book, the science-fiction vampire novel Fledgling (2005).
“Wikiwand – Octavia E. Butler.” Wikiwand, http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Octavia_E._Butler.
Octavia Butler’s Science Fiction Themes:
- Creation of alternative communities
- Critique of present-day hierarchies
- Relationship to Afrofuturism
- Remaking of the human
- Survivor as hero
My books will be read by millions of people!
I will buy a beautiful home in an excellent neighborhood.
I will send poor black youngsters to Clarion or other writer’s workshops.
I will help poor black youngsters broaden their horizons.
I will help poor black youngsters go to college.
I will get the best of health care for my mother and myself.
I will hire a car whenever I want or need to.
I will travel whenever and wherever n the world that I choose.Octavia Butler – in her journal