Natalie Russell (Assistant Curator, Literary Collections, Huntington Library)
October 15, 2019
Octavia E. Butler was the first female African-American writer to make science fiction her career. A shy, only child from Pasadena, California, she dreamed of ordinary people in extraordinary worlds, and extraordinary people in ordinary worlds, and put them on the page. Her stories brought the voice of woman of color to a genre traditionally dominated by white men. That powerful voice tackled issues, not just about race, but themes that continue to resonate with a wide audience: power, identity, gender, class, the environment, and what it means to be human.