Happy Birthday, Octavia Butler!

Octavia Butler changed speculative fiction with her path-breaking novels, including the best-selling novel Kindred, which has been adapted for television and as a graphic novel. She was born on June 22, 1947, and would be 77 today if she were still with us.

A photo of two Octavia Butler books: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

This post contains affiliate links to Bookshop.org, an online bookstore that financially supports independent bookstores, and if you buy from my links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Throughout her career, Butler won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, taught regularly at the Clarion Writers Workshop, received a MacArthur Fellowship, and even has an asteroid named after her.

While I can’t tell you when I first learned of Octavia Butler, I first read one of her books in the 2010s. I was on a mission to read classic science fiction. After working my way through some Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury, I found a digital audio copy of Fledgling through my library.

I’ve consumed a lot of vampire stories in my life, both written and visual, but Fledgling remains one of my absolute favorites. Rather than being evil villains, Butler’s vampires live symbiotically with humans. I love the way she reimagines vampire mythology and humanizes these creatures we normally see as monsters.

Kindred, Butler’s only other standalone novel, is her most well-known book. It is a haunting portrayal of what people will do to survive and an ode to the resilience of Black Americans. I rarely feel that a book should be required reading for everyone. But Kindred is one of the few that I strongly believe every adult in America should read at least once.

I still have a lot of Octavia Butler to read. My next novel will be Parable of the Sower, the first book in the duology pictured above. I picked up the box set from 7 Stories Press back in January, and today is the perfect day to start reading it.

Interested in picking up one of Octavia Butler’s novels? I’ve put together a list of her novels: