Octavia Butler just made the NY Times Bestseller List for the first time ever — 14 years after her death

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/04/octavia-butler-just-made-the-n.html


As soon as I read the title of the post, I knew it would be Parable of the Sower.

Better late than never…


And yet, in a certain sense, right on schedule. The book and its sequel are grim reading, and at the moment they seem all too accurate. I can only hope Butler’s prescience ends soon.


Butler’s Parable books ended on a positive note, at least.


A great writer with a unique & precise vision perfectly expressed. I’m both glad & terrified that we’re paying attention now. Doris Lessing’s novel The Four-Gated City includes a main character, Martha, who starts having psychic experiences that include visions of the future. Martha turns to reading science fiction because it’s the only kind of book that fits her experience. But when she meets with sci fi authors she’s deeply puzzled that they don’t seem to believe their work is true or prescient in any way; they think they “just make it up.” The Four-Gated City, while otherwise a “straight” fiction, ends in a dystopian future. Lessing herself started writing her sci fi series (Canopus in Argos, starting with Shikasta) shortly after. I meanl, if you were a reluctant prophet, what other kind of book would you write?


I love that book and – yes, timely! – but was there some internet surge in interest? I figure I would have noticed an increased interest in Octavia Butler around the internets such that this wouldn’t be news in the same way.

Also, speaking of prophetic SF – I was flipping through my copy of Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron – and that dude was just a blueprint for the Alex Jones and even more so Glenn Beck (at his Glenn Beck-ist). I believe Glenn Beck is an SF fan, would be curious if he lifted his dramatic flourishes directly from Bug Jack Barron, because it tracks.

I’m wondering – has it been made a required reading book in high schools? It’s odd that it is suddenly a best seller and like you, I’d like to know what triggered the sales surge.

Broadway show based on the book triggered the surge in interest. Everything she writes is outrageously original and completely unmatched in science fiction or any other genre of fictional writing. It’s a darned shame that she is not here to enjoy her belated fame.

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Does anybody want to list your favorite stories that Octavia Butler wrote? I’d really like to dive into her works and would love some recommendations.

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I’ve only just started reading Butler myself and am kicking myself for not getting into her years and years ago.

I’ve just binged the Patternist series, which starts with Wild Seed. Can’t recommend Wild Seed highly enough; it’s superb and the others are very good.

The series is slightly marred by having been written in more-or-less reverse order, so Wild Seed is the first book in the narrative order, but was actually the second-last published. As a result, the writing is a bit less polished in the later books of the series, which is a bit odd.

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