Octavia E. Butler

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Octavia E. Butler, 2005

Octavia Estelle Butler (* 22. June 1947 in Pasadena , California ; † 24. February 2006 in Lake Forest Park , Seattle ) was an American science fiction - writer . She was one of the few black writers in the science fiction genre, and the first to achieve greater notoriety. Her work often deals with feminist and racial issues, so her protagonists are often part of a minority.


Octavia E. Butler was the daughter of Laurice and Octavia M. (Guy) Butler and grew up in poor conditions. Her father was a shoeshine boy and died when she was very young; her mother was a poorly paid maid. Sometimes she grew up with her grandparents, who were staunch Baptists . During her school days she was diagnosed with a reading disorder, and in retrospect she described herself as an extremely shy child who spent a lot of time alone in the library. Nevertheless, she attended Pasadena City College from 1965 to 1968 and from 1969 the California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California in Los Angeles . There she attended advanced courses, one of which was led by Theodore Sturgeon . When she submitted some sitcom manuscripts to the Writers Guild of America Open Door program , seminar leader Harlan Ellison advised her to try serious short stories and novels instead. She did. Ellison also persuaded her to attend the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop , where she met Samuel R. Delany and wrote her first stories, which were sold and published. After that, Octavia Butler got by with odd jobs, continued writing, and eventually, with Ellison's help, managed to get her first novel into Doubleday .

In 1976 she became known to the general public when she published the novel Patternmaster , the start of the Patternmaster cycle. He describes the emergence of telepathically gifted people and also deals with race and gender issues. Four more novels from this cycle followed before Octavia E. Butler published a book with Kindred in 1979 that had little to do with SF and was very successful. Without explaining time travel in any technical or scientific way, it describes how a young black woman is repeatedly drawn into the past of her ancestors, including a white slave trader. This trick of concentrating the present and history in one person brought the book a large audience and Octavia E. Butler the economic success to be able to make a living from writing from now on.

In the 1980s she won the four most important SF awards with the story Bloodchild 1985, after she had received the Hugo Award a year earlier . Then she published her Xenogenesis trilogy (later summarized under the title Lilith's Brood ). It is about saving humanity after a devastating war; the survivors meet an alien race that has a third gender, which not only mentally link the other two sexes, but can also change them genetically.

Over the 1990s, Octavia E. Butler worked on her Parable trilogy, of which she was only able to complete and publish the first two volumes. In it she describes a dystopia in which a new religion called "Earthseed" preaches the constant change of all things. Health problems and writer's block prevented her from completing the third volume. The second volume, Parable of the Talents , won the 1999 Nebula Award .

It was included in the anthology Daughters of Africa , edited in 1992 by Margaret Busby in London and New York.

In 1995 she was awarded the Genius Award of the MacArthur Fellows Program award, which was endowed with 295,000 US dollars. It wasn't until 2005 that she published her next and last novel, Fledgling , a vampire novel with some SF elements.

She lived in southern California until 1999 and moved to Seattle after her mother's death . In 2003 Butler published the short stories Amnesty and The Book of Martha, and in 2005 her second independent novel Fledgling .

On February 24, 2006, she fell on the cobblestones outside her home in Lake Forst Park, Washington, and sustained a head injury. She died that same day at the age of 58.

Butler had a longstanding relationship with the Huntington Library and left the library with her writings, including manuscripts, correspondence, schoolwork, notebooks, and photographs, on will. The collection, consisting of 9,062 pieces in 386 boxes, was made accessible for scientific research in 2010.


  • Hugo Award
    • 1984 for the best short story Speech Sounds
    • 1985 for Best Narration, Bloodchild
  • Nebula Award
    • 1984 for Best Narration Bloodchild
    • 1999 for the best novel Parable of the Talents
  • Locus Award
    • 1985 for Best Narration, Bloodchild
  • Science Fiction Chronicle Readers Poll
    • 1985 for Best Narration, Bloodchild
    • 1988 for best short story, The Evening and the Morning and the Night

Other awards:


Patternist / patternist (novel cycle)
  • 1 pattern master (1976)
    • German: When the soul master died. Translated by Inge Pesch von der Ley. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24037, 1982, ISBN 3-404-24037-5 .
  • 2 Mind of My Mind (1977)
    • German: The Soul Plan. Translated by Rosemarie Macke. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24039, 1983, ISBN 3-404-24039-1 .
  • 3 Survivor (1978)
    • German: Alanna. Translated by Waltraud Götting. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24052, 1984, ISBN 3-404-24052-9 .
  • 4 Wild Seed (1980)
    • German: Wilde Saat. Translated by Will Platten. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24060, 1984, ISBN 3-404-24060-X .
  • 5 Clay's Ark (1984)
  • Seed to Harvest (collective edition of 1,2,4,5; 2007)
Xenogenesis / Lilith's Brood (trilogy)
  • 1 Dawn (1987)
    • German: twilight. Translated by Barbara Heidkamp. Heyne SF&F # 4765, 1991, ISBN 3-453-04478-9 .
  • 2 Adulthood Rites (1988)
    • German: rituals. Translated by Barbara Heidkamp. Heyne SF&F # 4766, 1991, ISBN 3-453-04479-7 .
  • 3 Imago (1989)
    • German: Imago. Translated by Barbara Heidkamp. Heyne SF&F # 4767, 1991, ISBN 3-453-04480-0 .
  • Xenogenesis (collective edition from 1–3; 1989, collective edition; also: Lilith's Brood , 2000)
    • German: The gene dealers. Translated by Barbara Heidkamp. Heyne SF&F # 5998, 1999, ISBN 3-453-14897-5 .
Parable / Parable (novel cycle)
  • 1 Parable of the Sower (1993; also: The Parable of the Sower , 2017)
  • 2 Parable of the Talents (1998; also: The Parable of the Talents , 2016)
  • The Parable of the Sower / The Parable of the Talents (collective edition of 1 and 2; 2016)
Single novels
  • Kindred (1979)
    • German: Of the same blood. Translated by Peter Rummel. Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Special # 24042, 1983, ISBN 3-404-24042-1 . Also as: Kindred - Connected. Translated by Mirjam Nuenning. w_orten & meer (w-orten & meer # 5), 2016, ISBN 978-3-945644-05-8 .
  • Fledgling (2005)
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995; also: Bloodchild and Other Stories, Second Edition , 2005)
  • Unexpected Stories (2014)
Short stories


  • Crossover (1971, in: Robin Scott Wilson (Ed.): Clarion )


  • Near of Kin (1979, in: Roy Torgeson (Ed.): Chrysalis 4 )
    • German: Close relatives. Translated by Leni Sobez. In: Roy Torgeson (ed.): On the eve of St. Poleander Day. Moewig (Playboy Science Fiction # 6716), 1981, ISBN 3-8118-6716-4 .


  • Speech Sounds (in: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Mid-December 1983 )
    • German: The sweet sound of the word. Translated by Biggy Winter. In: Friedel Wahren (Ed.): Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction Magazin 28th episode. Heyne SF&F # 4366, 1987, ISBN 3-453-31368-2 .


  • Bloodchild (in: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1984 )
    • German: Blood brood. Translated by Bernd Müller. In: Donald A. Wollheim and Arthur W. Saha (eds.): World's best SF 4. Bastei-Lübbe SF Special # 24069, 1985, ISBN 3-404-24069-3 . Also as: blood ties. Translated by Jürgen Langowski. In: Friedel Wahren (Ed.): Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction Magazin 27th episode. Heyne SF&F # 4294, 1986, ISBN 3-453-31301-1 .


  • The Evening and the Morning and the Night (in: Omni, May 1987 ; also: The Evening, the Morning, and the Night , 2015)


  • Amnesty (in: Sci Fiction, January 22, 2003 )
  • The Book of Martha (in: Sci Fiction, May 21, 2003 )


  • Childfinder (2014, in: Octavia E. Butler: Unexpected Stories )
  • A Necessary Being (2014, in: Octavia E. Butler: Unexpected Stories )
  • Conversations with Octavia Butler (2009)




reference books

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Léa Mormin-Chauvac: Octavia Butler, le roman noir de la science-fiction . In: Liberation . No. 11964 . Paris November 22, 2019, p. 26 .
  2. ^ Margalit Fox: Octavia E. Butler, Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 58 . In: The New York Times . March 1, 2006, ISSN  0362-4331 ( nytimes.com [accessed July 8, 2020]).
  3. ^ Octavia Butler's papers going to the Huntington Library. In: LA Times Blogs - Jacket Copy. Retrieved October 2, 2009, July 9, 2020 (American English).
  4. Octavia E. Butler Papers. Retrieved July 9, 2020 .