After a childhood spent taking refuge in libraries and writing original fiction from age 12 onwards, Butler attended the 1970 Clarion Science Fiction Workshop. Her debut novel, 1976’s Patternmaster, was the first in a series that ultimately allowed her the financial security to write full-time. This was instrumental when drafting her 1979 novel Kindred, which follows a Black writer living in modern L.A who is transported back to the pre-Civil War south. Kindred was followed by her four-book Xenogenesis/Lilith’s Brood series in the 1980s.
1993 saw the release of Parable of the Sower, the first book in her Earthseed series. Its sequel, Parable of the Talents, won Butler her first Nebula Award, and in 1995 she also took home the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
Butler’s final novel, 2005’s Fledgling, is centered around a vampire who resembles a 10-year-old Black girl. Soon after its publication, on February 24, 2006, Butler died suddenly outside her home. But her legacy has only grown after her death.
Butler’s work has proved eerily prescient, and has influenced modern social and political movements and led to numerous adaptations. She landed on the New York Times bestseller list in 2021, and NASA has even named a Mars Rover touchdown site after the author.
Explore the fiction of Octavia E. Butler today, and come away empowered to face any challenges the future holds alongside your community.
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