Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, and probably the best-known (or in a lot of cases, the only known) African-American in that field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards in her lifetime.
Her first published book was Patternmaster in 1976. Other works of hers include Lilith's Brood and the Parable series, and her final book, Fledgling. She was working on a third book in the Parable series when she died of a stroke in 2006, aged 58.
- Patternist (1976)
- Mind of My Mind (1977)
- Survivor (1978)
- Wild Seed (1980)
- Clay's Ark (1984)
- Kindred (1979)
- Lilith's Brood
- Dawn (1987)
- Adulthood Rites (1988)
- Imago (1989)
- Parable of the Sower (1993)
- Parable of the Talents (1998)
- Fledgling (2005)
Trope examples relating to works that don't have their own pages:
- Afrofuturism: Most of her works feature black people and themes related to the black struggle in America.
- Author Existence Failure: She hinted before her death that she planned to continue her Hugo Award-winning two-volume Parable series with several more titles, Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Chaos, and Parable of the Clay. However, she died shortly after publishing one more novel, an unrelated standalone called Fledgling whose ending also left room for a possible sequel.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: In Kindred, the first sign that Dana has traveled through time as well as through space is Rufus' casual use of the N-word and his innocent confusion when Dana gets offended by it.
- Double Consciousness: In Kindred, Dana is a 1970s black woman transported back to the antebellum south, where she has to masquerade as a slave, causing a lot of conflict between her 'liberated' self and the demeanor she has to adopt to survive as a slave.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: In Bloodchild, human hosts (almost always male) act as incubators for eggs of the female aliens, who look something like human-size centipedes. If the host is lucky, the mother gets to him in time to extract the newly hatched larvae before they eat their way out. This relationship is presented as approaching symbiotic; the aliens (mostly) cherish the human families from whom they select their hosts, but the hosts don't get a lot of choice in the matter.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male (...or possibly Trolling Creator): In the afterword to this short story, the author writes that it's "a love story between two very different beings" and that she wanted to write an MPreg story where the guy became pregnant "not because he was forced to" but rather "as an act of love". But in the actual story, the impregnated protagonist: 1) is a young boy barely entering adolescence (no concrete age is given, but he's clearly still much smaller than his older brother). 2) He has been literally groomed from birth for this purpose by the female alien (who is acting like a member of his family and was herself hatched from his father). 3) He cannot legally leave the "Preserve" and would be in even more danger outside anyway. 4) He was so horrified by the cesarion-section-like "birth" process that another male went through (without anaesthetics) that he seriously considered killing himself rather than going through that himself. 5) He's being drugged into uncaring submission on a regular basis all his life and got an extra large dose that day specifically to prepare him for the implanting. And 6) he primarily 'consented' in the end because the alien threatened to do it to his sister instead, which is still not freely given consent.note
- The author also writes that "it amazes [her] that some people have seen Bloodchild as a story of slavery" - about a story where the humans have to live in a "Preserve" and aren't allowed to own firearms or cars; have been treated literally like cattle in the past; there are several references to ownership/selling of people and splitting up families at the convenience of the owners; being held in the alien's limbs is always described as "caging", and the aliens are constantly worrying about their human's body weight; like they're purposefully fattening them up, etc.
- First Contact Faux Pas:
- Bloodchild features the T'lic treating humans as cattle before realizing it's not a very sustainable method of hosting their young safely.
- Amnesty features the Communities kidnapping individuals and attempting to experiment/communicate with them, but abusing them due to a lack of understanding.
- No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Kindred covers the perils of time traveling while black — the black protagonist goes to 19th-century Maryland to meet her ancestors, one of whom is a white slave owner. Drama ensues.
- San Dimas Time: Whenever the protagonist of Kindred is dragged back in time to save Rufus, the time that passes in the present before her return is compressed but proportional to how long she spends in the past. When, for example, she spends a few minutes in the past, she disappears in the present for a mere second or two, but when she accidentally leaves her husband in the past, she spends three weeks in the present before going back and learning that her husband has been stranded for over five years.
- Speculative Fiction: Her book Kindred is often seen as either Science Fiction (due to the Time Travel, despite the fact that no explanation is ever given) or African-American fiction (because it's about American slavery), and thus Lit Fic. Butler herself saw it as fantasy.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: In Kindred:
- Dana's flashbacks last anywhere from a day to eight months, but in the present she's only gone for a few hours at most.
- Kevin, her husband, gets left behind in the past. Dana spends a few weeks in the present waiting for a chance to go back and rescue him, and when she finally does, he's spent five years in the past.