Happy Birthday Octavia Butler

I don’t usually approve of RIP shirts but I would rock one for her.

I was about 16 when I read my first Octavia Butler book. I was in an afterschool reading group (oh, I’ve been a nerd for a while) and we focused on stories by women of color. The leader of the group was adamant that we read Kindred and so we did. I greatly enjoyed the book and then moved with my life. It took me eight more years before I read her again and I’ve been pretty happy with her work ever since. I am amazed by her talent, her works have gripped me and characters still stay with me. I remember when I first read the words of Earthseed and it was a feeling akin to when I read The Gospel According to Shug. There was none of the gloss found in Shug’s Gospel but the simplistic depth of the passages made my eyes gleam. Her books were emotional without being insincere and that can’t be an easy feat to accomplish.

Recently, I discovered the joy of talking about her works with others who loved them. I am always happy to find another Octavia Butler fan because then it’s like: “Oh, you get it? I’m not crazy? Fantastic!” I go into used bookstores and ask for her knowing they won’t have her. I just love hearing that they can’t keep her book in stock.  I look through bookshelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders to make sure she’s there.

And now she’s gone. I still haven’t read all of her works and I think it’ll be a sad day when I do complete that task. It’s a completely selfish emotion but I’m okay with that. Octavia Butler is one of those writers of whom you feel proud to be fan. It’s not just because she’s a black woman well noted for science fiction. I am not fan simply because she’s a black woman author who writes about the nature of humans. It does, however, give me a thrill to pull out the Octavia Butler card when someone online makes a comment about women and science fiction not mixing. Nevertheless,I am fan because I can identify with her characters, because her writing is amazing, because she let it be known who she was and didn’t apologize. I am fan because reading her helped me expand my taste and my thinking. I am fan because she’s one of those authors that make me ‘got.’ And for that, I will be grateful.

Happy Birthday Octavia Butler

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