Author Octavia Estelle Butler was born in the town of Pasadena, California on the date June 22, 1947; she was the only child of a housemaid (Octavia Margaret Guy) and shoeshine man (Laurice James Butler). She was raised by her mother and her mother’s mother (in what she would call a strict Baptist environment) due to the fact that her father died when she was only seven years old. While growing up during segregation, she got to see that her mother was not treated very well by her white employers; she would have to enter through the back doors of the homes that she would clean. This was even though the integrated town of Pasadena allowed her to see diversity firsthand.
She had a strong shyness that made it hard for her to socialize with other people and her slight dyslexia that made it difficult for her to do schoolwork, made her think much less of herself and became an easy target for the bullies in her school. This led her to spend a lot of time at the library and reading books, and she would also write in a big notebook that she had. She was first hooked on horse stories and fairy tales, but would also become interested in science fiction magazines.
Her mother, after Octavia begged her to, got her a typewriter when she was only ten. She pecked on it with just two fingers. She saw a movie, in a televised form, called “Devil Girl From Mars”, which she did not like at the age of twelve years old. Butler felt that she could write a better movie, and drafted what would later become her “Patternist” series of novels.
An aunt discouraged her from writing and upset some of her confidence by telling her that black people could not be writers. She pushed herself anyway, and would win a short story contest that she entered in her first year in college. Some comments made by an African American, who was involved in the black power movement, at her college helped her form the basis for a best selling novel (called “Kindred”), even though he did so inadvertently. She wanted to give historical context to what he was saying.
Through her writing, she was called “grand dame of science fiction”, and was one of the most well known women in the science fiction genre. In 1968, she got her Associate of Arts with a focus in history from Pasadena Community College. At a writer’s workshop that she attended, she met Harlan Ellison, a science fiction extraordinaire, who would later become her writing mentor.
By the year 1979, Butler was able to support her self full time writing fiction, with the release of her novel “Kindred”. She has also written the “Xenogenesis” trilogy, the “Patternist” series, and the “Parable” series; she has written some short stories, some stand alone novels, and some essays and speeches.
Later on in life, her mother died, after which Butler would move to the town of Lake Forest Park in the state of Washington. This would be where she would work on her last novel, a light hearted novel that was a science fiction vampire story called “Fledgling”. Butler decided that after the hard work she had to put in to her “Parable” books that she would write something a lot easier for her to do. This is where “Fledgling” came from.
“Patternmaster” is the first novel in the “Patternist” series that was released in the year 1976. This is the first novel released of the series, but actually is the final installment in the series. Some say that the series should be read in the actual chronological order, rather than the publication order. Patternist’s are a telepathic race that can rule, destroy, and heal with the mind. One very strong mind controls the entire Pattern, and all that are in it. The Patternmaster’s son yearns to have the ultimate power. Only one threat is left to his high ambitions, the rest he has killed or taken them as a slave. In the hills (that are infested with mutants) there is a young apprentice that must be killed next, due to the fact that he is the other Patternmaster’s son and this tyrant’s equal.
Fans of the novel like the way that the female leads are not just strong but honest with themselves and the male protagonist. There are a lot of complex themes and characterizations here in this novel, too that are being explored in the novel. Fans love the series and wish that there were more books to it.
“Mind of My Mind” is the second novel in the “Patternist” series that was released in the year 1977. For four centuries now, an immortal has bred the master race using the downtrodden underclass as the breeding stock. A young telepath has found the way to rule and awaken the superhuman kind that she hails from, and ignites a psychic battle all over the place. From the mansions in Los Angeles to the slums in South Central, all so she can challenge her creator to free her people, and so she can enslave Earth.
Fans of the novel found some great ideas being explored in this novel, just like the first novel in the series. Some fans found that Butler infuses them with the desire to write and that her work is something that they can identify with. Some found that the novel was captivating in a creative way and featured a highly crafty narrative, that only could have been written by a writer like Butler.
Butler won many awards in her time as a writer, like the Creative Arts Award that she got from the L. A. YWCA. She won the Hugo Award twice, once for best short story (“Speech Sounds”) and again for best novellette (“Bloodchild”). She also won best Nebula Award twice, once for best novellette (“Bloodchild”) and for best novel (“Parable of the Talents”). The novellette “Bloodchild” also won the Locus Award for best novellette. In 1995, she won what is called the “Genius” Grant from the MacArthur Foundation. She has even been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
Books in order of publication by series:
|Mind of My Mind||(1977)|
|Parable of the Sower||(1993)|
|Parable of the Talents||(1998)|
|The Evening and the Morning And the Night||(1991)|
|Conversations with Octavia Butler||(2009)|