Friday, March 03, 2006

Passing of the Sower

I'm extremely sad to report that on February 27th, Octavia Butler passed on due to a brain hemorrhage, secondary to a fall.

Octavia Butler was one of America's pre-eminant writers, a Nubella and Hugo Award winning science-fiction/fantasy writer, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient (the only science-fiction author to receive the award thus far), a pioneer in her field as a woman an African-American and a lesbian, and she was and always will be my hero.

I had secretly reserved hope that I would meet her in my lifetime.

I first encountered her work when an undergraduate on a particularly distracted evening of study. Sitting opposite the science-fiction shelves at the now defunct Hilles Library the spine of one book caught my eye in particular. It included a picture of a woman's face that also seemed part bird, part fish, and part cheetah. Opening the book and flipping through, the word "Agu" caught my eye. I recognized it immediately as an Igbo (West African language) name. I read on and saw more Igbo names and, and being that part of my heritage is Igbo, I was hooked. It was the first sci-fi I'd ever read that I felt included me.

It turned out to be Octavia Butler's Wildseed. I'd been in love and inspired with her words ever since.

Though she's a self-described "former Baptist" I wish Ms. Butler all of God's blessings, because indeed her courage, her creativity, and her work has been a blessing to me. God speed, Ms. Butler. Perhaps we'll meet in the next life.

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