Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I recently learned that last saturday, Octavia Butler, passed away. It was tough on me. I am such an admirer of her work. It was her Xenogenesis series that convinced me to write science fiction. Before that, I felt it would not bode well for me to venture into the genre that kept me out of trouble.
Steven Barnes, another Black Sci-fi writer I adore, stated 'She put so much more of herself into her work than I ever have, or would be capable of. " I have to second that thought.
I remember when i first introduced to her by my man Zumbi of Stiltwalkers in Philadelphia (anyone know if that store still exists...?). He was like "oh you like sci fi? try this brother..." it was Wildseed. The story had me open. I wanted more. BUt at the time I was reading so much I could never really get back to her. When I moved to Virginia in 1997 and then moved out of my son's mother's house in 1998, I got back on with her Xenogenesis series. I was hooked again. I read all of her books except Survivor (which she swears was her worst effort and will never re-release it ever again) and the latest one Fledging.
Her writing made one think not just of the future but of the present. It made me think about how tremendously dangerous human beings can be towards one another and it also filled me with hope. I cannot describe in words how her work has influenced me. I have yet to find someone who has disliked her work. Everyone immediately becomes a fan.
YOur legacy will live on, Octavia Butler.
My Octavia Butler story:
When the "urban fiction" genre really hit big back in 2001-2002, I notice that Waldenbooks and other large chains began to carry large inventories of them. Before that time, when i would purchase an Octavia Butler novel for myself or a friend (i always gave them away), I would easily find her in the sci fi section where she belonged.
Around 2002, I wanted to buy her book for a born day present for someone I knew. I went through the sci fi section of the Waldenbooks store in my area. I could not find it. I recall seeing several copies of her book there. I shrugged my shoulders and swallowed my man pride. I went to the cashier section and talked to Ron, the Assitant Manager.
"Hey, Brother Omi, how are you?"
"pretty good Ron, and you?" I replied.
"great now that I know you have a question for me..." he said sarcastically.
"aight," I responded. "do you have any Octavia BUtler novels left?"
"Sure," he answered in a jipper fashion as he walked out of the cashier booth and headed towards the side of the store. He stopped straight into the urban fiction section and pointed to her novels. My blood level rose.
Mind you, I do pick up my nose at the urban fiction section. I find the works to be substandard and predictable. I feel that they have diluted the quality of Black fiction. Call me elitist or call me a snob but I find it to be true. It's sad that more than a quarter of a billion dollars is made from this stuff. Zane and others of her ilk just make me angry but i digress.
"Ron! this is foul. How are you gonna place Octavia Butler, THE OCTAVIA BUTLER, in this section!"
"Brother OMi! before you get upset, " He stuttered, "in the computer, she is placed under science fiction but because the urban fiction has sold alot, we put her here."
"that's wack be. Do you have Steven Barnes there too?"
"Actually know, he is in sci fi.."
"Dude, I don't get it. So Octavia is in urban fiction with omigod ... you got Toni MOrrison in this piece! WTF !!!! ROn this is wack man. Real wack..."
"Well, at least you didn't call me racist..."
My Born Day
Well this Friday, March 3rd at 3:04pm will be 33 years young...Stay tuned for my "what i learned in my 33 years of existence post...." you can check last year's here. You can also check pictures of last year's born day celebration...