Octavia Estelle Butler, best known to many as the granddame of science fiction and receiver of the Macarthur Fellowship, was born June 1947 and died way too soon at the age of 58, February 24, 2006. From a young age this engaging Black woman was relentless in her craft. From watching a science fiction film she knew that she could write it better, to making vision notes to herself about becoming a bestselling author, Butler knew what she was about. Ibi Zoboi who like many fans of Butlerâ€™s work read several of her books. A kindred spirit who was born on the same day as Butler, though years apart Zoboi, also a writer in the same genre gives tribute by writing a mixture of narrative and poetry as biography.
Zoboiâ€™s blend of â€œStar Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butlerâ€ is arguably based on what Butler said in an interview about poetry being the most accessible way of understanding a theory or idea. Poetry made Butler focus on each word and tease out meaning of what they meant. Zoboi expertly takes aspects of Butlerâ€™s life that many may have heard before and wrote them in poem form. In order to give a timeline Zoboi chapters each section by showcasing what influenced Butler. Being raised by her mother and grandmother, her father dying before she was 5, being a slow reader and not doing well in school recalls Butlerâ€™s childhood. In poems Zoboi constructs Butlerâ€™s upbringing, influences and beginnings of her writing career. Thereâ€™s also within each chapter past interviews with Butler where she discusses ideas in direct relationship to what is being talked about, whether itâ€™s about the writing process or why the choice to write science-fiction. In the chapter â€œThe Good Bookâ€ Zoboi asks â€œWhat if?â€ and a flood of ideas of how Butler wouldâ€™ve written the hell out of Marvelâ€™s Silver Surfer or any other galactic comic-book since the themes of her novels feels so much in-tune with these otherworldly characters, rooted on the ideas of what it means to be human. One of the notable poems are â€œSpaceâ€ and â€œRaceâ€ which mirror each other and are major themes that are in Butlerâ€™s novels. Each poem starts and ends nearly the same way with â€œBombsâ€ and â€œfrom each other.â€ Essentially this book showcases why Octavia E Butler, who was named by her mother, Octavia Sr. reflects everything that has embodied her.
The last chapter â€œKindredâ€ brings us to a personal perspective of the woman who shows how Butler never had a chance to finish her own story. Zoboi relates to the reader that as a young Black woman having first read â€œParable of the Sowerâ€ on a friends recommendation, barreled through all Butlerâ€™s other books. Here there was a kinship. Though Zoboi didnâ€™t read science fiction as a child, she found Butlerâ€™s stories were much like the stories she herself had written, particularly in her college creative writing courses. You feel the sense of loss of how Butler had so much more to give and so many more stories left in her soul. Zoboi sharing her knowledge of Butler is a gift to her fans, present and future.
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