So, Book Clubbers, I need to resolve a little problem that’s popped up.
Over the weekend, I read Survivor using the link that commenter FtrYBFMD provided.
On one hand, I can see why Butler hated the novel. Her novels are generally known for complicated morality – this one reads pretty clearly. There aren’t really good guys but there are clear bad guys, and it’s more in line with a lot of the other sci-fi I read. (As a matter of fact, it’s forcing me to reflect on how easily I accept the idea of colonizing other planets, lands, and worlds – and how easily authors accept human superiority, even when they question it.) Jo Walton, writing for Tor, provides some context for Butler’s distaste:
Survivor (1978) is part of the Pattern series, but has not been reprinted since 1981. Butler repudiated the novel and refused to allow it to be reprinted:
When I was young, a lot of people wrote about going to another world and finding either little green men or little brown men, and they were always less in some way. They were a little sly, or a little like “the natives” in a very bad, old movie. And I thought, “No way. Apart from all these human beings populating the galaxy, this is really offensive garbage.” People ask me why I don’t like Survivor, my third novel. And it’s because it feels a little bit like that. Some humans go up to another world, and immediately begin mating with the aliens and having children with them. I think of it as my Star Trek novel.
All I can say is, she clearly watched a better grade of Star Trek than I ever did. I can understand her problem with the biology, but what she seems to be saying there is that Survivor is a dishonest novel. Well, I kind of like it. I’m sorry you can’t read it.
Oh, but we can. In addition to the link, Racialicious readers have emailed in and volunteered to scan their copies. So if we wanted to, we could. But there’s a couple ethical questions here. Continue reading
Our friends at Clutch shouted out the Book Club – to somewhat hilarious ends.
I saw this comment and just about fell out with laughter.
JULY 1, 2011 AT 10:28 PM
I am happy to see so many women getting interested in the male-dominated sci-fi genre. Octavia Butler is a great writer and I have enjoyed her works myself. I would like to offer some warning, however. Before you read Octavia Butler believing it to be “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in space, you should know that Octavia Butler was a good -science fiction- writer. That means her works may have some really weird stuff in it. For example, one of her books describes humanity being assimilated by an alien race that must have 3-way sex with a tentacle monster in order to reproduce. The book was riveting and very well-written though. I just wanted to give the ladies a heads up. “The Parable of the Sower” did read like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” set in the year 2050 (I couldn’t get into it), but some of her works read like typical, fantasy, space opera, science fiction stories. Octavia Butler was an exceptional Black writer who blazed a trail for science fiction writers like myself to follow. If, however, you don’t like weird stuff, be wary.
Remember: It’s tentacle monsters, not Terry McMillan.
(Image Credit: Selling Out for Fun and Profit)
(Back story on the image: Okay, so I put in “tentacle monster” to see what popped up – and yes y’all, I know exactly what was gonna appear on my home computer – and this cute little thing came up. Since I was resigned to an image of something mildly pornified, imagine my delight to find this cute little thing. Then I checked to see what it is. It’s called Rape-kun. O_o. So then I’m trying to figure out what the hell that’s all about, and apparently it’s a gag in a webcomic called Errant Story and spin off series called Fun with Familiars. In the ES wiki, it’s described like this: “Rape-kun is Bani Igaaru’s familiar. He is a small, pink, “affectionate” micro-tentacle monster that enjoys sitting on Bani’s head. Despite the fact that Bani is a schoolgirl, Rape-kun does not, in fact, live up to his name. He was apparently protected by a password, which Bani did not know back during her days at Sashi Mu Academy of Thaumaturgy and Conjuration, that enables his “adult mode;” it hasn’t been revealed whether or not this state of affairs has changed since Bani’s graduation.” So I have no idea as to the appropriateness of using this image, but it’s gonna have to work at the moment.)
Octavia Butler was Racialicious before we even existed.
The late author is a cult icon, being a boundry breaking black woman in Science Fiction who infused her writing with rich societal commentary on race, gender, dominance, and much much more.
Last year, the University Press of Mississippi was kind enough to send me a review copy of Conversations with Octavia Butler, a collection of her interviews, edited by Consuela Francis. The interviews (some of which I will excerpt in later posts) were illuminating, revealing Butler’s damn near prophetic grasp of the underlying challenges facing our society. Quite a few of these interviews are from the 1980s and 1990s – her words still apply in 2011.
I savored the book as long as I could, but when I finally finished, I felt a deep and profound sense of loss. As just a casual reader before, I was suddenly confronted with the magnitude of exactly what went with Octavia Butler when she departed from this earth.
So I decided the best tribute would be to read, share, and enjoy her work.
Readers, welcome to the book club. Continue reading
by Latoya Peterson
Yes, you read that right. According to friend of the blog Allison:
For many years, Beacon Press–a nonprofit book publisher since 1854–has had the privilege of publishing Octavia Butler’s “Kindred,” the story of a modern black woman transported through time to the antebellum South. Octavia Butler died tragically in 2006; those familiar with her life and work know how singular and important her legacy remains. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the novel, and Beacon is deeply honored to announce a collaboration with the Butler estate to produce a graphic adaptation of “Kindred.” The press is currently inviting proposals from cartoonists who appreciate Octavia Butler’s legacy, and reflect hercommitment to social justice in their own work.
Those interested in discussing a proposal should email the editor of the Graphic Books list, Allison Trzop, at atrzop AT beacon DOT org. The deadline is March 16.
Please spread this far and wide, anyone who knows anyone who is an illustrator, graphic artist, whatever.