On Friday (June 22), Google celebrated the birthday of award-winning and Black lesbian science fiction writer Octavia Butler.
“Octavia E. Butler’s legacy calls to mind the age-old question of whether life imitates art, or vice versa,” Google wrote in her tribute.
“Today’s Doodle honors the author’s immense contribution to the genre of science fiction, including the diverse worlds and characters she brought to life.”
The “Kindred” author died of a stroke in 2006 and would have been 71-years-old today.
But who is Butler? What were her stories about and what is the legacy she left behind? Well, we got you: Here are four fun facts about the iconic science fiction writer.
Butler was born and raised in California and overcame dyslexia to be a writer: Born in 1947 in Pasadena, California, Butler’s father, who died when she was very young, earned a living shining shoes. While her father died early on, Butler was raised by her mother, who worked as a maid to support her family.
She also suffered from dyslexia, but teachers continued to see her potential, BuzzFeed noted. That, and Butler was determined to be writer regardless who ended up making stories when she was four and writing them when she was 10 years old.
Most her book’s protagonists were women of color: As a Black woman, Butler ensured that most of her 12 novels and numerous short stories were centered on women of color, something that doesn’t happen often in science fiction.
“Her characters are mostly black women or brown people living in a world that is deeply problematic, and it’s a different underbelly than you would get in the typical L.A. crime novel,” said Julia Meltzer, founder and director of Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop, told CNN.
“Just because of who she was and what she experienced, she writes about L.A. in a different way than you would get in a Raymond Chandler novel.”
According to Al Jazeera, Butler once said that her work was about filling the gaps that the genre left wide open.
“The only Black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn’t manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in, since I’m me and I’m here and I’m writing.”
In addition, Butler’s work addresses the intersections of race, gender and the genre. Her aesthetic includes the antebellum South, dystopian futures and even the world of vampires. She showed us that we can and should always exist within this genre.
She won the prestigious McArthur Genius Award: Sixteen years after her award-winning time travel slavery novel “Kindred” hit stores, Butler was presented with the coveted the McArthur Genius Award in 1995. She was the first science-fiction writer to ever win this grant.
Time.com wrote, that at the time the award came with a prize of $295,000. The foundation said Butler’s “imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”
In addition, Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards in her career, two of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction.
Her book “Dawn” is being adapted to the small screen: Thanks to by Black female filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Victoria Mahoney, Butler’s legacy is reaching us in the near future. The two are taking her book “Dawn” and turning into a TV series. Dawn is the first book in what has been called Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, which also includes 1988’s Adulthood Rites and 1989’s Imago.
Time.com wrote that the book is about a Black woman female, who wakes up 250 years after a nuclear holocaust, that finds that humans have been rescued by aliens with three genders. In return, the aliens want to interbreed with humans to create a hybrid species.
No word on what network will plans on picking this up, but we are here for it!
Happy Birthday Octavia!