Octavia Estelle Butler, born June 22,1947, was a science fiction writer. She began her writing during a time when the genre was white and male dominated. Her determination to become one of the first black, woman science fiction authors, and her resulting success, has proven her influent to science fiction writers today.
Raised by a widowed mother in Pasadena, California, Butler started as a quiet and shy girl. At a young age she began writing ideas and stories in her journal. At the age of nine, she decided that she wanted to write science fiction while watching a horribly written science fiction movie. She thought she could write the story better, so she did, writing it in her journal. The notes for this rewrite later grew to become her Patternmaster series. In 1968, she graduated from Pasadena City College with an associate’s degree and then later attended the University of California (UCLA). While at UCLA, she joined the Black Student Union. Although she grew up in a culturally diverse community where inequality among races wasn’t as prevalent, she still wanted to stand up for the inequality that she saw elsewhere.
She published her first story, Crossover, in 1971 in the Clarion anthology. Butler has also written the Patternmaster series, BloodChild, the Xenogenesis trilogy, and many more titles. Her works include themes such as African American spiritualism, mythology, and mysticism.
Octavia wrote stories covering topics considered highly controversial in her time. Many of her stories discuss themes like slavery and racism. Because of her bravery, her stories were influential and captivating for many. In her Child Finder series, the protagonist centers on a woman who is trying to protect black children with supernatural abilities from an aggressive and controlling white organization. She has won prestigious awards such as the major science fiction award, the MacArthur Fellowship, as well as the Hugo and Nebula award. Butler’s stories, awards, and dedicated fans prove that she will be remembered for ages.
Octavia Butler passed February 24, 2006, but her legendary work lives on. Authors like N.K Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor claim Butler has influenced their writing. Jemisin said that without Butler’s stories that she might not be writing today. Octavia Estelle Butler began a new era of science fiction writers and today, we honor her as the godmother of the genre.