[News] Octavia E. Butler Memorial, Dies at 58.

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 28 08:24:55 EST 2006

Octavia E. Butler collage



Remembrances M. Asli Dukan Steven Barnes Harlan 
Ellison Jane Jewell and Robin Bailey of SFWA

It is with deep sorrow that we announce that 
another GIANT in our community has passed. Ms. 
Octavia Estelle Butler, brilliant master of 
sci-fi, fell outside her house in Lake Forest 
Park, during what neighbors thought was a stroke. 
A neighbor's kid found her outside her house. 
They rushed her to a Northwest hospital, and 
found that blood had pooled in her brain, they 
operated but she passed away on Saturday. She was 58.

Imagenation, who’s mission is to present diverse 
images of people from the African Diaspora, feels 
a special loss because of Ms. Butler's commitment 
to creating alternative perspectives of Black 
people, in a world full of negative stereotypes. 
We encourage all to purchase her many books and 
keep her in your hearts and memories.

Below is a brief history of the life and times of 
Ms. Octavia E. Butler followed by warm words from 
her closest friends. We begin the praises with 
independent filmmaker Asli Dukan whose upcoming 
IN SPECULATIVE FICTION will be the last 
documentary film to feature Ms. Butler.

Although Octavia E. Butler is no longer with us 
physically, her books and portrayals of Black people will live forever.

(Written by Gregory Gates for Imagenation)

Sincerely yours,
K and G pic

Moikgantsi Kgama, Founder & Gregory Gates, Executive Producer, Imagenation

Cinema and Music for the people
About Octavia E. Butler

For more than 30 years, Seattle science-fiction 
novelist Octavia E. Butler dreamed up fantastic 
worlds and religions, made-up creatures and 
futuristic plots. Then, in her stylistic prose, 
she used them to tackle the social issues she was most passionate about.

"Parable of the Talents," a futuristic story 
about a utopian community ravaged by civil war, 
explored modern-day issues of intolerance, the 
growing gap between rich and poor, and 
environmentalism. In her first novel, "Kindred," 
she plunged into racial issues when a modern-day 
character was transported into the body of a pre-Civil War slave.

In 1995, she won a $295,000 MacArthur Fellowship, 
known as the "genius grant." In 2000, she 
received the Nebula Award for her novel "Parable 
of the Talents." The Nebula award is science fiction's highest prize.

Though she was a giant in the science-fiction 
world, Ms. Butler was such a private person that 
even her closest friends said they knew little about her.

She was funny, with a dark, dry, self-deprecating wit.

Ms. Butler, who never married, described herself 
this way in 1999: "I'm also uncomfortably asocial 
— a hermit in the middle of Seattle — a pessimist 
if I'm not careful, a feminist, a black, a former 
Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of 
ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive."

In a 1999 interview, Ms. Butler told a Seattle 
Times reporter that she had been a tall, socially 
awkward child in Pasadena, Calif., spending much 
of her time in the public library and sending 
manuscripts to publishers when she was only 12 or 13.

"I needed to write," she said then. "Writing was 
literally all I had consistently. ... I used to 
give up writing like some people would give up smoking."

Ms. Butler kept that hard-working intensity as an 
adult, her friends said. But even in her success, 
she remained grounded. She bought a house with 
her MacArthur Fellowship money and traveled mostly to lecture about writing.

An only child, Ms. Butler grew up in Southern 
California and moved to Seattle in 1999, after 
her mother's death. She studied at Pasadena City 
College and California State University, Los 
Angeles, before participating in the Clarion 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in 1970.
E. Butler Home Page
M. Asli Dukan
Asli pic

M. Asli Dukan

Octavia Estelle Butler had a tremendous influence 
on me. As a teenager, I was fascinated with all 
things science fiction. I read books and watched 
countless movies, but with the nagging reminder 
that I was not represented (Black and Female) in 
the genre, practically at all. This changed the 
day I found Dawn, a book in the Xenogenesis 
series by Octavia Butler. My hand was drawn 
towards the book as if by magic. I initially 
couldn't tell that the book had Black characters 
because the cover I saw did not represent the 
main character as she was written, as an African American female.

Maybe I had heard about Octavia somewhere, like a 
whisper on the wind, maybe not. It all doesn't 
really matter now, the important point is, is 
that Octavia Butler existed. If she did not 
someone would have had to invent her. But I am 
grateful that she did exist. The complexities and 
intelligence of this woman would have not been as 
meaningful, if she weren't a real living human 
being. Her books not only represented African 
Americans in a genre that has erased our presence 
from the past and the future, but she wrote of 
stories and characters that challenged what it 
meant to be young or old, woman or man, black or white and alien or human.

Working on my documentary, I have had opportunity 
to meet and talk with Octavia and to let her know 
what kind of positive influence she had on me and 
the directions I am taking with my own work. I am 
grateful for that and will cherish the memories that I have of her.

M. Asli Dukan is the Executive Director of The 
Invisible Universe Foundation and the 
producer/director of the soon to be released 
here for more information on INVISIBLE UNIVERSE: 
Steven Barnes
Steven Barnes pic

Steven Barnes

I consider Octavia to be the most important 
science-fiction writer since Mary Shelley. She 
wrote about race successfully because she did it with such subtlety.

For a time, Octavia and I lived within walking 
distance, and she would come to the house for 
dinner. A lady of incredible intelligence and 
rather dark humor, she was also what I called "a 
REAL writer." She put so much more of herself 
into her work than I ever have, or would be capable of.

She was sweet, and kind, and generous, and 
brilliant. And now she is gone. Travel well, my 
friend. Rest deeply. I'll see you soon.

Steven Barnes, is an well know African-American 
science-fiction writer and friend of Ms. Butler
Barnes Website
Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison pic

Harlan Ellison

Those who knew Ms. Butler agreed that, in many 
ways, she was a contradiction. She kept to 
herself but was easy to talk to. She was tall and 
imposing, and very warm and charming, but there was gravitas in her."

The heroes in her stories were often people of 
color, and Ms. Butler's sense of isolation came through in her work.

Ms. Butler had a number of obstacles to overcome 
in the writing business, among them being female and being Black.

What [Ms. Butler] was writing for the first time 
was a kind of woman's-eye view, a very smart 
woman's-eye view, of say, 'Brave New World' or '1984,'.

Writer Harlan Ellison, Ms. Butler's friend and mentor.
Ellison Website
Jane Jewell and Robin Bailey of SFWA

Jane Jewell

Octavia is a world-class science fiction writer 
in her own right. She was one of the first and 
one of the best to discuss gender and race in science fiction.

Jane Jewell is with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.


Robin Bailey

I remembered her deep, rumbly voice.

Robin Bailey, the president of the Science 
Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

College Station
P.O. Box 127
New York, NY 10030
<mailto:gregory at imagenation.us>gregory at imagenation.us

Imagenation, a Harlem-based organization, was 
established in 1997 to counteract negative images 
and stereotypes that are propagated about people 
of color, through mass media; and, to establish a 
chain of independent art-house cinemas. 
Imagenation uses independent cinema and 
progressive music to foster solidarity and 
cross-cultural exchange throughout the African 
Diaspora, with special focus on the USA and South Africa.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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