The world of Octavia Butler has been the subject of many conversations over the course of the past five or six years, mostly due to the incredibly prescient nature of her 1993 release, Parable of the Sower, depicting global warming, privatized public schools, common fires, and a zealot elected to "Make America Great Again." If only the world would listen to Black women...we could have gotten ahead of this mess back then! But that’s another story.
Many are surprised to learn that Butler actually made a life in the Pacific Northwest. Although originally from California, she moved just north of Seattle to Lake Forest Park where she lived until her passing in 2006. As her work has seen a renewed surge in relevance and interest, it was thrilling to learn there is a year-long research grant dedicated to her. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens recently named Alyssa Collins, assistant professor of English Language and Literature and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina, the recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Fellowship for the study of the renowned science fiction writer. Alyssa's fellowship titled, Cellular Blackness: Octavia E. Butler’s Posthuman Ontologies treats Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy of novels as a central touchstone and explores Butler’s interest in genetics, evolution, and cellularity. Absolutely fascinating!
Fortunately for all of us, Butler bequeathed her papers to The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, ensuring that future students have access to her research and notes, and enabling others an opportunity to examine her work and create new research.
She may no longer be in the physical realm, but Octavia Butler will continue to pique our senses now and into the Afro-future. ✨