June 19th, 2006

Octavia E. Butler

Can I talk about this author? Can I? I can? Good! I just finished reading my first Butler book, DAWN, the first in her Lilith's Brood trilogy. This woman is brilliant! I may work at a fantasy magazine, but I know some good science fiction when I read it. And this isn't.

It's great!!!

Butler writes with very clear prose, which is especially important with this book, because the ideas and characterizations she presents are very challenging. I don't want to be slowed down trying to unravel the meaning of flowery prose, not when I'm busy considering the future of humanity, and what it means to be human. And Butler does understand what it means to be a human being, more than most of us ever will. She knows what makes us tic, what gets our hackles up. She understands how even when we are a society inundated with technology, there are still so many ways to make us act on pure instinct. She knows how to make you uncomfortable as you read because of the truths you're being confronted with, a rare talent for any writer of any sort of fiction.

And she also understands the word "alien." More than this I won't say, because you need to experience it for yourself.

Anyone that likes to read novels should read this woman. I understand now why she received the "genius grant." When I learned of her death some months back, I was saddened to hear about it. Even though I had never read her works, I knew how well respected she was, and that she had made great contributions to the field. And now that I have read her . . .well, her time came too soon. My only consolation is that I have lots of her work left to read.