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Octavia E Butler

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I read Kindred recently and was so surprised that I had not read her work before. The first black scifi woman writer. I really enjoyed the novel but saw some mixed reviews esp the ones stating that this particular book wasn't scifi enough. thoughts?

Posted : July 12, 2021 7:59 am
Bronze Member

I wonder if those reviews are from readers who picked up her other work first. Kindred is sort of an outlier in her science fiction career. In comparison, the other books are conceptually wilder because she's using the fantastic elements to dramatize ideas, instead of to move characters. Kindred's closer to the edge of the genre and to the literature shelf in my opinion (but it has been several years). 

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Posted : July 12, 2021 7:12 pm
John Goodwin
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As a note, I met Octavia when in Seattle for a Writers of the Future Awards event in 2005. I wanted to meet up with her as she had earlier written an article for Writers of the Future called "Furor Scribendi." She agreed to become a judge for Writers of the Future. Unfortunately, she became ill and passed in Feb 2006. She was a wonderful person, an incredible story. Her home was one huge library of books!

Posted : July 13, 2021 1:36 am
MountainSpud, N.V. Haskell, Wulf Moon and 1 people reacted
Silver Member

I haven't read Kindred by her but her short stories are fantastic and I highly recommend reading Dawn. It starts with a person waking up essentially but for a great reason. Her ability to write aliens is so convincing and immersive. Nothing quite like it and that's not to mention her delicious prose and heavy themes. 

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Posted : July 13, 2021 2:33 am
Dustin Adams
Gold Star Member

Whoa, I happened to read Furor Scribendi last night. (Volume IX)

She talked about the habit of writing being more powerful than inspiration. Put in the reps...

I'm desperately seeking the bestest idea ever for Q4, but I've got a few "smaller" ideas that I'm ignoring, waiting for the home run. She reminded me that butt in chair and words to page is the way to go. Smile /p>

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Posted : July 16, 2021 1:44 pm
Platinum Member

The butt in the chair works for most, but K.J. Anderson and Martin Shoemaker like the digital recording method. Tell a story as you hike through the wilderness(K.J.) or, in Martin's case, commute to a destination. I practice that technique but, it ain't easy. It sure is good exercise though.

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Posted : July 17, 2021 5:12 pm
John Goodwin reacted
Silver Member

I bumped Kindred up my reading list. Such a great book and so immersive I couldn't put it down and wound up finishing it in one sitting. I can see why there would be mixed reviews regarding its speculative elements. The essay at the back of my version by Robert Crossley mentioned that "Butler herself has repeatedly insisted that Kindred should be read as a “grim fantasy,” not as science fiction, since there is “absolutely no science in it.” I can see why in her time she considered it more as fantasy than scifi given how the time travel in the book was explored (and exploration was little done). I think the most appropriate term now for Kindred would probably be slipstream coined by Richard Dorsett.  "Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. "

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Posted : August 8, 2021 1:51 am
Silver Star Member

Thanks for the recommendation, gang! Just borrowed Kindred for my next audiobook.

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Posted : August 9, 2021 12:46 pm
Bronze Star Member

While on the topic, her Parable series (Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents) is scary good. Further, if you want to read a drop-the-mic, this-is-how-you-succinctly-yet-masterfully-world-build, read Bloodchild. It's a novelette and in a collection, titled Bloodchild and Other Stories. I have yet to read Kindred, but will. Octavia Butler is one of the masters. 

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Posted : September 14, 2021 5:47 pm
ajschultz6 reacted
David Bronson
New Member

No matter how many books you read about slavery, this is a special book. It is special for several reasons:
1. She is different. Dana from 1976 travels to 1819. She learns to survive during this time. And we can see slavery through the eyes of a modern, free-spirited black girl.
2. The author forces us to be skeptical of official history and double-check the information we receive.
3. Octavia E. Butler is the first black science fiction writer to have her books published and win the Hugo Award.

But I don't think the action in the book should be taken too literally.

Posted : January 25, 2022 9:57 am
Wulf Moon
Platinum Plus Moderator

@davibrons Thanks for your insights, David. We hope you’ll tell us a bit about yourself under “New Users Introduce Yourselves.” It’s always nice to get better acquainted with new members that have joined.


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Posted : January 25, 2022 6:35 pm