Octavia E. Butler is the author of eleven novels, including Kindred, Dawn and Parable of the Sower. Recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award and numerous other literary awards, she has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists and social observations that range from the past to the far future.
Collected in this slim volume is the entire output of short fiction from the pen of MacArthur Award winner Butler (Parable of the Sower). ``I hate short story writing,'' Butler admits in her preface; not surprisingly, then, there are only five tales here, ranging in date from 1971 to 1983. Two essays round out the volume: one an inspirational piece about making writing a habit, the other a more personal reminiscence about what it's like to be poor, female, black‘and to persist in the writing of SF anyway. ``Bloodchild'' (which won both a Hugo and a Nebula ) is a compelling and horrifying novella combining a love story between a human and an alien with a coming-of-age tale; it is, as Butler puts it, a ``pregnant man'' story. ``The Evening and the Morning and the Night'' concerns genetic disorders, personal responsibility and pheremones; ``Near of Kin'' takes a sympathetic look at a dysfunctional family; and ``Speech Sounds,'' another Hugo winner, depicts a near-future society in which a virus has nearly destroyed people's ability to communicate. Here, too, is ``Crossover,'' Butler's first published story, which deals with the ghostly by-products of hopelessness and drudgery. Following each entry is an enlightening afterword that provides a refreshing look into Butler's writing process and that helps to clarify what excites and motivates this exceptionally talented writer. (Oct.)
"Butler graces new mansions of thought with her eloquent, distinguished, and poignant prose. Although this book is little in size, its ideas and aims are splendidly large." - Booklist "The title story is justly famous. Splendid pieces, set forth in calm, lucid prose with never a word wasted." - Kirkus Review"
YA‘Collected together for the first time are the complete shorter works of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning author. "Blood Child," her "pregnant man story," both a coming-of-age and a love story, revolves around a young man and an alien. In "The Evening and the Morning and the Night," two lovers faced with the stark reality of their deadly genetic inheritance have tough choices to make. The three other selections deal with incest and a dysfunctional family, alcoholism, and a disease that destroys humankind's ability to communicate through speech. The author leaves readers with a glimmer of hope in otherwise bleak situations. Each of the selections has an insightful afterword about Butler's inspiration for writing it and her own thoughts and comments about each one. Two very literate and readable essays about persistence in writing and growing up as a black, female science-fiction writer round out the collection. The youthfulness of some of the protagonists and the contemporary tone of the themes, viewed through a glass darkly, should appeal to YAs. Five intense, thought-provoking tales of people caught up in extraordinary situations.‘John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
This slim volume brings together the author's five previously published short stories and two essays. Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction/fantasy novels, her latest being Parable of the Sower (LJ 10/15/93), Butler professes in the introduction to "hate short story writing." Nevertheless, she shows mastery of this literary form in both science fiction ("Bloodchild") and general fiction ("Near of Kin"). An afterword follows each offering, giving insight into its origin. Of particular interest is the autobiographical "Positive Obsession," a series of vignettes showing us her development from her literary awakening at age ten until she was established as the only African American woman writing science fiction for a living. Recommended for both science fiction and mainstream short fiction collections.‘Robert Jordan, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City