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Remembering Octavia E Butler: 1947 – 2006

Award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer Octavia E Butler died suddenly Saturday, a victim of an apparent stroke. At age 58, she had achieved much more than once would expect from a dyslexic African American lesbian born to a shoe shiner.

For her work, she had been awarded two Nebula and Hugo awards.

Below is an excerpt from her bibliography at Wikipedia and reprinted under this GFDL license.

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947-February 25, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of very few African-American women in the field, and a leading lesbian writer. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards, and was the first science fiction writer ever to be a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

Butler was born in Pasadena, California. Her father, a shoe shiner, died when she was young; her mother raised her in a struggling, racially mixed neighborhood. As a child, she was considered shy and a “daydreamer;” she was later diagnosed with dyslexia. She began writing at the age of 10 “to escape loneliness and boredom.” She was 12 when she began a lifelong interest in science fiction.

After getting an associate degree from Pasadena City College, she attended California State University and UCLA. She gave credit for her development as a writer to the Open Door Program of the Screen Writers Guild of America and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop.

Butler moved to Seattle in November 1999. She described herself as “comfortably 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.” She died of a stroke on February 25, 2006 at the age of 58.

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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