Saturday, March 04, 2006

OCTAVIA BUTLER ...YOU WILL BE MISSED

When an author dies, he or she takes with them everything they ever would’ve written. And often left behind are the many fans and readers who fell head-over-heals for their prose, characters, and sheer writing talent.

Such is the case with Octavia Butler. She died after a terrible fall on Friday, February 24th at the age of 58. Her story is unique in many ways, too. Not only was she brought up from humble beginnings, she was a woman in a predominantly male field: science fiction. And a black woman to boot. She struggled to get her first novel, KINDRED (1979), published after multiple rejections. But once it was picked up by a publisher, her career took off.

Two Nebula Awards, a board member for the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, and the only science fiction author to ever receive a "Genius Grant," Mrs. Butler was as large a figure in the SF community as she was in stature (well over six-feet). But her shy demeanor and calm grace was what most people remember about her. Having never had the honor of meeting her, I can only go off what I’ve heard, and it seems she was well-liked and respected by her peers.

It’s interesting (from a personal standpoint) that Mrs. Butler chose to live in Seattle, Washington toward the end of her life. My grandfather, Frank Herbert, lived there as well right before he passed away, and I started wondering if there was a common "pull" this area held for SF writers?

Perhaps it’s just coincidence.

Perhaps it’s a cosmic equation we’ll never understand.

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