I often thought of science fiction as stories that talk about science and the future. In a way, that is partly what science fiction does. But, as with a lot of stories, they also reflect the values prevalent in society as well as provide social commentary and a means to effect change in society. In this regard, science fiction writer Octavia Butler was a pioneer.
“Science fiction, more than any other genre deals with change—change in science and technology, and social change. But science fiction itself changes slowly, often under protest.”
Some of Octavia Butler's popular works are the Parable series, the Xenogenesis trilogy, and Bloodchild. However, she died young in 2006 at the age of 58. But her works are still very relevant in today's culture and society.
Butler’s work “helped define the literary cornerstone of Afrofuturism,” notes Grinberg. Her writing was strategic, a way to confront dehumanizing political and social political realities.
So why should we read Octavia Butler's works? I think Open Culture summarized it best:
...because she had a better read on how the time she lived in would turn into the time we live in now than nearly anyone writing at the time; because she told strange, wonderful, outlandish, compelling stories that stretched the imagination without losing sight of the human core;
because, like Ursula K. Le Guin, she challenged the world as it is with profound visions of what it might be; and because she not only excelled as a storyteller but specifically as a committed science fiction storyteller, one who deeply touched, and thus deeply changed, the form.
(Image Credit: Nikolas Coukouma/Wikimedia Commons)