Octavia Butler was not the first woman to write science fiction. She was the first African-American woman who became well known for writing science fiction. Actually I think (thought) of her as a prophet.
Her books were crafted with her life experience into powerful stories. Those stories give me the creeps when I look around at modern day America. Pick up a copy of “Parable of the Soarer” with a nation divided and a President who uses neo-Christianity as a weapon on the population. She wrote the book in 1998. Draw your own conclusions.
I actually met Ms. Butler on an elevator at the Los Angeles Library. I was mushed mouthed as I asked if she was who she appeared to be. She said yes. I said something about enjoying her work.
She thanked me. I got off the elevator. I hold dear the people who raised me so I was just quiet for the longest period of time.
I think she was coming to Pasadena this month for a reading/book signing. The city has selected her most famous work, “Kindred”, as this years One Book/One City activity. I wanted to video record her talk but wasn't sure if I could work out the logistics of being two places at the same time. I feel rotten about it.
Octavia Butler died on February 24, 2006 after a fall at her home in Seattle. This is grievous. I hate loosing mentors. The invisible people that I know raised me via books from what I was to what I could be.
I wish to hell I was absolutely sure of what that would look like but I'm on the path.
So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of any of her books that you can find, library or bookstore. But I warn you, she will draw you into a world that you might not be prepared to visit but at the end you will sign up for another voyage.
For more information about Octavia visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_Butler