Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler
1947 - 2006

"At the present, I feel so unhopeful. I recognize we will pay more attention when we have different leadership. I’m not exactly sure where that leadership will come from. But that doesn’t mean I think we’re all going down the toilet, I just don’t see where that hope will come from. I think we need people with stronger ideals than John Kerry or Bill Clinton. I think we need people with more courage and vision. It’s a shame we have had people who are so damn weak."
Octavia Butler

There was a time when I would go to book signings on a regular basis. Ironically I spent time this weekend looking over some of those books. My copy of Parable of the Talents was signed by its author, the science fiction writer, Octavia Butler. "To Margaret, Best Wishes, Octavia E. Butler." I walked down memory lane without knowing that Ms. Butler passed away on Friday after falling and hitting her head on the pavement near her home in Seattle.

I discovered Ms. Butler because of my obsession with Star Trek. My compulsion to read everything about it brought me to a magazine called Starlog. Starlog was mostly about movies and television shows but it also covered science fiction authors as well. One issue of Starlog had an interview with Octavia Butler. Until that moment I had no idea there was a black female science fiction writer.

Dawn was the first of her books that I read. The protagonist is a black woman, but the publishers used the image of a white woman on the cover. Octavia had to sell a lot more books before people who looked like her characters were allowed to advertise them.

She wrote about time travel, interspecies breeding with aliens, and survivors of civil war. I always felt that any of her books would have made wonderful movies. Hollywood rarely sees things my way.

That is too bad. Octavia Butler's work would fascinate and enlighten millions of people. I hope that those who have never read her books will do so now.