Day 20: Octavia Butler

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Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Pasadena Community College, and attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California.

A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known women in the field. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant”.

After writing her now-prophetic novels Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998), Butler had planned to write additional books in the series–Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. In interviews, Butler noted that the research and writing of the Parable novels had overwhelmed and depressed her, so she had shifted to something “lightweight” and “fun” instead. Fledgling was born.

Although best known for her award-winning science fiction, Butler’s final novel is a vampire tale, entitled Fledgling. Like most of her work, it has themes of race and otherness.

The novel explores a vampire community living in a host/symbiont relationship  with humans. Fledgling tells of the coming-of-age of a young female hybrid vampire (She’s in her 5os, but looks like an eleven year old). The only survivor of a vicious attack on her family that left her an amnesiac, she must seek justice for her dead, build a new family, and relearn who she is.

 

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Buy Fledgling and find out more about Octavia and study her work with NOLA Wild Seeds, a a feminist-of-color collective that uses speculative fiction and art as a resource for social change.

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