It was easy for me to select Octavia Butler (1947-2006), a renowned science fiction writer, for National Women’s History Month. Ms. Butler has always been one of my favorite writers. As I researched her life, I learned a lot about this astonishing author. I not only selected her because of her great works, having been the recipient of both two Hugo Awards from the World Science Fiction Society and two Nebula Awards from the Science Fiction Writers of America, but also because of her strong character.
At the age of twelve she watched what she considered a bad science fiction movie on T.V. At that moment she decided she could write a better story. And she did. In 1995, Octavia became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship. Her writing became her life. She did not let being an African American woman writing in a genre dominated by white males, or that she’d dyslexia deter her from her life’s purpose of writing.
You only have to read her books to appreciate, her writing skills, style and her powerful imagination. Humanitarian causes, social issues, and especially women rights meant a lot to her. These themes are prevalent in her books.
My favorite book is Kindred. In this book, she tells the story of a modern-day black woman who travels back in time to antebellum South to save the life of a white, slave-holding ancestor. Skillfully written, she puts you into that time period with its pain, cruelty, and hatred that black people had to endure. Equally as skillful was the transition of the main character from one time period to another.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1998, Octavia Butler said, “I’m black, I’m solitary, I’ve always been an outsider.” And she was all of those things, but her legacy lives on and she has opened the door for countless writers who inspire to follow in her footsteps.