Octavia Butler R.I.P.

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Shit, this day just gets sadder and sadder...

and here

I just got this note
Yesterday Octavia Butler fell outside her house during what neighbors thought was a stroke. A neighbor kid found her outside her house. They rushed her to the hospital, and found blood had pooled in her brain, they operated but she passed away today.

The Equator Lounge (Chris Barrus), Sunday, 26 February 2006 23:49 (sixteen years ago) link

:( :( :(

i interviewed her once :(

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 26 February 2006 23:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Goddammit. :-(

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link

She was one of the first authors I ever read when it came to consciously reading sf -- this would have been late 1983 or so, when I was twelve. I had already come to grips with Asimov, Herbert and a few other folks, but Clay's Ark, one of the first two books I ever got from the SFBC -- and I had ordered it by accident! -- was and remained something truly unusual and unique. I am glad still for that experience.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:11 (sixteen years ago) link

She was also a good person for clarity about the act and art of writing -- you got a sense she was extremely conscious about the process and enjoyed communicating that with others. I love this bit from this interview redaction:

''I've talked to high school kids who are thinking about trying to become a writer and asking 'What should I major in?', and I tell them, 'History. Anthropology. Something where you get to know the human species a little better, as opposed to something where you learn to arrange words.' I don't know whether that's good advice or not, but it feels right to me. You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. It's just so easy to give up!''

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:15 (sixteen years ago) link

(Correct the above a bit -- it would have been late 1984 when I was thirteen, since that's when the book came out. Same impact, though; it was unlike anything else I'd read up until that point.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:25 (sixteen years ago) link

This is sad.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:26 (sixteen years ago) link

aw man. i've only read a handful of things -- the lilith's brood series and a few others -- but they were really good, well written, imaginative, and all those fiercely individualistic characters. r.i.p.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:34 (sixteen years ago) link

That'll make the last book she published Fledgling, which unsurprisingly looks like it's amazingly great. I was just telling a friend on the phone that she's one of those writers that I now realize I really should have sent a brief note to simply to thank her for her work for its impact on me -- and now I'll never get the chance.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Butler's home page at the SFWA has been turned into a low-key memorial with a link to remembrances here.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 00:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Fledgling was actually so-so, which makes this ever more sad because her other books are so damn good and maybe she would have written a follow-up to Fledgling that would have cured some of it's defects.

Dang. There are so few women's voices in sci-fi, and she was such a good one. :(

Nutsy the Squirrel (pullapartgirl), Monday, 27 February 2006 01:02 (sixteen years ago) link

the most recent interview i've seen. unfortunately it's from indymedia and lame-ish. but i like her closing comments:

I think we need people with more courage and vision. It’s a shame we have had people who are so damn weak.

she wasn't one one of them, for damn sure.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 27 February 2006 06:15 (sixteen years ago) link

There's a slightly more recent one here, from earlier this month.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 27 February 2006 06:21 (sixteen years ago) link




i read "dawn" and "wild seed" over a few days, holed up in williamstown, MA in a big airy loft that my sister was housesitting. it was the beginning of spring, too cold for a southern californian guy to want to go outside but sunny enough that i could sit in the big windows w/ the IDM on headphones and lose myself in her world. i had just finished college. it was a big deal for me.


vahid (vahid), Monday, 27 February 2006 07:33 (sixteen years ago) link

aww, no. :(

etc, Monday, 27 February 2006 08:20 (sixteen years ago) link


Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 27 February 2006 13:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Bad news.

adam (adam), Monday, 27 February 2006 18:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Sad news. Nice obit today on NPR.

pixel farmer (Rock Hardy), Monday, 27 February 2006 20:06 (sixteen years ago) link

My english professor at UCSB invited her out for a week as part of a senior seminar on science fiction in 1993. She was a little taken aback at being confronted with a room full of students readily placing her work in context with Judith Butler: "I still can't believe only two of you have read Dune... not that it's my favorite book, it's just that's the kind of room I'm used to talking to..."

She got used to the attention fast though, i think. I've only read the Xenogenesis trilogy and Wild Seed, but on the basis of that alone, she's one of the major science fiction writers, she built amazing worlds.

milton parker (Jon L), Monday, 27 February 2006 20:36 (sixteen years ago) link

The NY Times obit:


o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 15:53 (sixteen years ago) link

There's a memorial tomorrow night at the sci fi museum in Seattle: http://www.sfhomeworld.org/make_contact/details.asp?display=cal&m=3&d=2&y=2006&eventID=416

Jaq (Jaq), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 15:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm actually surprised at myself for not checking earlier what Harlan E.'s reaction would be to this -- this was his post on his website's discussion board on Sunday:


- Sunday, February 26 2006 13:47:2



OCTAVIA ESTELLE BUTLER (1947-2006) died yesterday.

She was my friend, she was my student, she was a startlingly good and important writer, she was my protege, she was--again--my friend; and today she is lying in the morgue up in Seattle.

A winner of the million-dollar McArthur "Genius" grant, she was a novelist of coruscating individuality.

From what can be gathered at this early moment, something close to the following happened, some time yesterday:

Octavia E. (whom I knew, when we first met in the mid-'70s, as "Estelle" because her mother was Octavia M.) went out of her house, to get the mail, or the newspaper, or to water the lawn, or for some other mundane reason, had a stroke, fell in the street or on the sidewalk, or wherever, right in front of the house, and lay there...until she was (I'm told) discovered by a neighborhood lad, possibly a newsboy, who either ran home and had his parents call 911, or he did it himself, on the spot. The paramedics were called, got there very quickly but--and it's uncertain which--Octavia Estelle was either dead already, or expired on her way to the hospital.

More than that I do not know.

But THIS at least IS known to me: here was a remarkable, courageous, gracious, brilliant and extraordinarily talented woman whose like was seldom seen before her hard-won success, and whose like may be long in coming again. But sooner than would have been the case, had my Estelle not been here first.

Her dreams will be the sweetest.


Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 16:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Anyone read Kindred? - that one sounds kind of interesting from the description.

o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 16:39 (sixteen years ago) link

I recall being strunned by it when I was younger. This so sucks.

Ian in Brooklyn, Thursday, 2 March 2006 06:48 (sixteen years ago) link

Kindred is really good.

Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 2 March 2006 18:25 (sixteen years ago) link


milton parker (Jon L), Thursday, 2 March 2006 20:18 (sixteen years ago) link

six years pass...

is there another thread that isn't a RIP thread? couldn't find one. i've been nabbing what i can of hers whenever it shows up in the bins at work. i've read parable of the sower, dawn, and kindred so far. hard to pin down what i like about her but i can't put the books down once i pick them up. where do i go from here, what should i look for?

Check out these bent items: (arby's), Saturday, 17 March 2012 13:00 (ten years ago) link

She didn't write anything bad (although Lilith's Brood--of which Dawn is the first part--is my least favorite.) The sequel to Sower, Talents is great. And so is the Patternist series (which is collected chronologically in Seed to Harvest.)

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Saturday, 17 March 2012 13:07 (ten years ago) link

I've said this on other threads too, but anyone who loves Parable of the Sower, should really read Jack Womack's terribly underrated (and unfortunately titled) Random Acts of Senseless Violence which came out roughly about the same time (and is itself part of a larger--albeit somewhat stranger--series.)

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Saturday, 17 March 2012 13:10 (ten years ago) link

I have also been on as much of a binge as my local library will allow. (I pester them to get her books, and they've found many throughout the Lambeth system, but they come in all out of order.)

I read Parable of the Talents last week (stupidly, without reading Sower first, but it was what they had) and though it was one of the most head-fuck territory books I've read in ages. Not because it wasn't believable, (which some of the Patternist books weren't, but that didn't make them un-enjoyable) but because it was so incredibly believable, that sense of "this is not actually science fiction, this is what is already happening, or could so easily be happening very soon." Which made it much, much more terrifying.

But also beautifully written, and full of hope, and made me almost wish that Earthseed were a real thing.

...I KERNOW BECAUSE YOU DO (White Chocolate Cheesecake), Saturday, 17 March 2012 13:29 (ten years ago) link

talents and random acts of senseless violence were extraordinarily cheap on amazon and are on their way. thx.

Check out these bent items: (arby's), Saturday, 17 March 2012 13:41 (ten years ago) link

three months pass...

Ebook versions of her work out soon -- and here are the covers:


Ned Raggett, Monday, 9 July 2012 20:28 (ten years ago) link

I don't like these anywhere near as much as I like the old mass market pb covers.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 9 July 2012 20:39 (ten years ago) link


"african" face. gif


the late great, Monday, 9 July 2012 21:10 (ten years ago) link

don't like those new designs at all

I've intermittently tried to get into Butler with little success. her stuff seems overly didactic

the alternate vision continues his vision quest! (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 9 July 2012 21:13 (ten years ago) link


Ned Raggett, Monday, 9 July 2012 21:20 (ten years ago) link

Have you read the Parable of the Sower, Shakey?

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 9 July 2012 21:32 (ten years ago) link

I.... don't think so?

the alternate vision continues his vision quest! (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 9 July 2012 21:35 (ten years ago) link

You should give it a shot. The Patternmaster books aren't for everyone (except for Clay's Ark which is kinda its own thing anyway) and I don't rate Lilith's Brood at all, but the two Parable books are well worth it.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Monday, 9 July 2012 21:43 (ten years ago) link

yeah I think it was the Patternmaster stuff I picked up

the alternate vision continues his vision quest! (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 9 July 2012 21:46 (ten years ago) link

four weeks pass...


Can't say I have any feeling for his music, but he was everywhere in the '70s.

clemenza, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 15:42 (ten years ago) link

Sorry...clicked on the wrong thread.

clemenza, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 15:43 (ten years ago) link


Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 16:27 (ten years ago) link

Nobody transspecies better...

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 16:35 (ten years ago) link

thank you ned

the late great, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 20:05 (ten years ago) link

Yer welcome.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 20:06 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...
eight months pass...

a look at her unpublished archives:


sleeve, Monday, 2 November 2015 17:57 (seven years ago) link

Wonderful to see that.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 2 November 2015 18:37 (seven years ago) link

i heard there's some television deals afoot?

a llove spat over a llama-keeper (forksclovetofu), Monday, 2 November 2015 18:38 (seven years ago) link

gonna pretend I didn't read that

sleeve, Monday, 2 November 2015 18:45 (seven years ago) link

OK that doesn't seem so terrible after all, thanks

sleeve, Monday, 2 November 2015 19:15 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

Well goddamn. I'll give Google that much.


Ned Raggett, Friday, 22 June 2018 04:52 (four years ago) link

It remains a mystery to me why her stuff hasn't been adapted for the screen

nevertheless, he stopped (flamboyant goon tie included), Friday, 22 June 2018 14:03 (four years ago) link

I went to this gallery show in 2016, and the musical performance. Most of the art didn't do much for me but the music performance was good.


nickn, Friday, 22 June 2018 16:42 (four years ago) link

two months pass...

So after having devoured all of Le Guin and being about to start on NK Jemisin's trilogy, which Butler should I start with? Reviews of Parable of the Sower make it sound brutal, which I'm not sure I'm up for right now lol.

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Monday, 27 August 2018 03:37 (four years ago) link

I'd recommend starting with Bloodchild and other stories since it is really great and a super quick read, then moving onto Kindred since it's her best standalone novel.

methanietanner, Monday, 27 August 2018 03:57 (four years ago) link

Wild Seed (the first book in the Patternist series) is great, though it's pretty heavy as well.

DPRK Nowitzki (EMEL), Monday, 27 August 2018 16:04 (four years ago) link

starting with Bloodchild sounds like a good idea. After that I'd say dive right in to the Patternist (start w/Wild Seed) or Lilith's Brood (start w/Dawn) series, but sure Kindred is great too.

sleeve, Monday, 27 August 2018 16:08 (four years ago) link

xpost I will most definitely second that. Wild Seed is fantastic. I just recently finished the entire Patternist series (my first Butler). Honestly, I kinda wish I'd read it in publication order rather than in the chronological order of the narrative. They're all very different stories and don't connect as much as I might've preferred.

It's funny, Tracye, I was thinking about getting through all of Butler's work and moving on to Le Guin.

Blag Blingeeborp (Old Lunch), Monday, 27 August 2018 16:09 (four years ago) link

Thanks all! I'm loving the NK Jemisin trilogy so far too so may have to devour that first haha.

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Monday, 27 August 2018 23:38 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

How correct, how *proper* this is. I had to stop catching up on the press conference that was detailing this to take it in.


Ned Raggett, Saturday, 6 March 2021 01:27 (one year ago) link


G.A.G.S. (Gophers Against Getting Stuffed) (forksclovetofu), Saturday, 6 March 2021 01:48 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Also good to see. May there be endless celebrations.


Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 23 November 2022 02:48 (three days ago) link

I did end up reading Kindred, and Parable of the Sower & Talents, havent covered anymore of her work but loved all those. Am looking forward to this TV adaptation, it looks reasonably faithful!

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Wednesday, 23 November 2022 03:09 (three days ago) link

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