Profiles in African American Literature: Octavia Butler

• Born 1947 to Laurice and Octavia Butler and raised in Pasadena, California
• Her father, a shoe shiner, died when she was very young, her mother worked as a maid. Octavia was raised by her mother and grandmother.
• Diagnosed as dyslexic, Butler began writing at 10 years old to escape loneliness and boredom.
• Octavia Butler is a graduate of Pasadena City College, 1968. She also attended California State University, Los Angeles and UCLA.
• After attending workshops like the Writer’s Guild of America, West and The Clarion Science Fiction Workshop in the 60s and 70s, Butler sold her first science fiction stories: “Crossover”, “Childfinder”, and “The Last Dangerous Visions.” The latter two stories were never published. Butler credited these two workshops for giving her the most valuable help she received with her writing.
• Critics commend Butler’s treatment of subjects not typically the focus of science fiction storylines such as: sexuality, male/female relationships, racial equality and contemporary politics.
• Frances Smith Forester says, “Octavia Butler is not just another woman science fiction writer. Her major characters are black women, and through her characters and through the structure of her imagined social order, Butler consciously explores the impact of race and sex upon future society.
• Titles by Octavia Butler include: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Bloodchild and Other Stories, Clay’s Ark, Fledgling, Imago, Kindred (which I read and LOVED), L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (co-authored by Kevin J. Schwartz Anderson), Lilith’s Brood, Mind of My Mind, Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, Patternmaster, Survivor, Wild Seed, the Evening and the Morning and the Night, and Seed to Harvest
• Octavia Butler earned the following awards: Nubela Award (1984, 2000), Hugo Award, Best Short Story (1984), MacArthur Fellowship (1995), PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in Writing.
• Octavia Butler died on February 24, 2006 outside of her home in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Some accounts state that she fell in the walkway of her home and struck her head, while other reports suggest she suffered a stroke, and died as a result head injuries sustained in a fall.

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