Octavia E. Butler Life + Legacy

About Octavia E. Butler

                                                                   Photographer: Mark Hanauer

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer. Incorporating powerful, spare language and ich, well-developed characters, her work tackled race, gender, religion, poverty, power, politics and science in a ways that touched readers of all backgrounds. Butler was a towering figure in life and in her art and the world noticed. A critical force, she received numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius grant”, both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement award.

About herself, Octavia E. Butler once wrote: “I’m a fifty-three-year-old writer who can remember being a ten-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an eighty-year-old writer. I’m also comfortably asocial – a hermit in the middle of Seattle – a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive”

(Bio from Parable of the Sower, Grand Central Publishing, 2000 edition, p.346)


AA, Pasadena City College (1968),

Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, Class of 1970

Attended classes, California State University, Los Angeles

Open Door Writers Project, University of California at Los Angeles


Hugo – 1984 Best Short Story, for Speech Sounds

Hugo – 1985 Best Novelette, for Bloodchild

Nebula – 1985 Best Novelette, for Bloodchild

Nebula – 2000 Best Novel, for Parable of the Talents

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame – 2009

Dean for America

MacArthur Fellowship – 1995

Books Published

Patternmaster – 1976

Mind of My Mind – 1977

Survivor – 1978

Kindred – 1979

Wild Seed – 1980

Clay’s Ark – 1984

Dawn – 1987

Adulthood Rites – 1988

Imago – 1989

Parable of the Sower – 1994

Bloodchild and Other Stories – 1995

Parable of the Talents – 1998

Lilith’s Brood – 2000

Short Stories / Essays

Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995)

Bloodchild and Other Stories (2005 – Includes “Amnesty” and “Book of Martha”)

Unexpected Stories (2015)

Select Additional Resources


George, Lynell. A handful of earth a handful of sky: the work of Octavia E. Butler. Angel City Press 2020.

Delany, Samuel. Octavia E. Butler: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. Melville House Publishing, 2023.


Why Should You Read Sci-Fi Superstar Octavia E. Butler? - Ayana Jamieson + Moya Bailey

Explore the works of science fiction visionary Octavia E. Butler, whose novels, such as “Parable of the Sower,” influenced the growing popularity of Afrofuturism.

Lesson by Ayana Jamieson and Moya Bailey, directed by Tomás Pichardo-Espaillat


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