Top Picks: Octavia E. Butler

One of the most significant and influential science fiction writers of all time, Octavia E. Butler, was known for her genre-defying speculative fiction addressing themes of race, gender, identity and politics.

Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California, on June 22, 1947. Her father, a shoe-shiner, died when she was an infant and her mother made her living as a maid. Butler's mother would often take her to work with her, providing her with a first-hand look at the harsh realities of being Black and poor. Butler began writing at the age of ten and, at twelve, decided to write science fiction after watching a bad science fiction movie and feeling that she could write a better story. 

Butler received numerous honors throughout her career, including two Hugo Awards for her short stories, a Nebula Award in 1999 for Parable of the Talents, and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award in 1995. Butler died suddenly from a fall at her home at the age of 58 in 2006, leaving behind a legacy that has inspired a new generation of writers of color, further blurring the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy.

In celebration of her life, here are a few top picks for Octavia E. Butler.

One of Butler's most well-known novels, Kindred, tells the story of Edana, a modern-day black woman in an interracial marriage who's abruptly transported to a Maryland plantation during slavery.

Follow Lauren, a Black teen girl with hyper empathy in 2024 California as the world descends into chaos in Parable of the Sower. This novel is followed by Parable of the Talents.

A science fiction trilogy formerly known as the Xenogenesis series, Lilith's Brood tells the story of an alien race that seeks to integrate genetically with humans for survival. This series includes the novels Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. 

Seed to Harvest , also known as the Patternist series, begins with Patternmaster, a society ruled by a group of telepaths, followed by Mind of My Mind, Wild Seed, and Clay's Ark.

What is your favorite Octavia Butler book?

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