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Octavia Butler, Grande Dame of Sci-Fi

Octavia Butler, Grande Dame of Sci-Fi

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer. A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known women in the field. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant”.

Octavia Butler was the first black sci-fi author I ever read, and it was sort of life changing for me as a young black girl very into speculative fiction of all kinds. It let me know that I wasn’t alone or as weird as I thought, and that it was okay to be black and female and like science fiction. Not only was it okay to like sci-fi, Butler showed me it was possible to be represented in those stories, and even to create those stories myself (which I’ve since done). It sounds almost silly now, but it was a very big deal for thirteen-year-old me.

While gearing up to re-read her Parable of the Sower series (since dystopian reads are all the rage now, thanks to our current political climate), I discovered there were people who haven’t heard of her! So, in honor of new discoveries, I’m reblogging this Octavia Butler starter list in case you’ve not read her before (or if you just need a refresher).

Waiting on Wednesday: Toil & Trouble - 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

Waiting on Wednesday: Toil & Trouble - 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

So, it should be obvious that I love short stories. And I may have mentioned a time or two how much I also love witches in fiction. I can't help it; witches are just so compelling! 

Who doesn't love reading about rebellious outsiders, bold women who dare to be both powerful and different — despite the social, sometimes political, life or death costs? As a woman myself, it's hard not to be drawn to witchy women living life on their own terms, with not a fuck to give about what society says they should and should not do. Plus, there's magic! It's easy to see why witches are so alluring.

With all of that, it's a given that an anthology called Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft would make my can't-wait-to-read list, especially since I enjoyed the previous anthology about badass girls by the same editor. 

Add in stories full of diversity, from authors like Nova Ren Suma and Brenna Yovanoff, both of whom write so beautifully and hypnotically, and Zoraida Cordova, whose Brooklyn Brujas series I adore — August can't come fast enough! Check out this week's Waiting on Wednesday pick...

Waiting on Wednesday: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Waiting on Wednesday: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

I absolutely loved Hidden Figures, last year's Oscar-nominated biopic about the black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race in the early '60s, and I'm here for all the stories of women working in that field, whether they're of the factual or science fictional variety. So when I came across The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, of course it went right on the can't wait to read list!

Mary Robinette Kowal’s book began life as a novelette: The Lady Astronaut of Mars, about the first female astronaut's later years on a Mars colony. But there's so much more to this unexpectedly poignant tale than simply life on another planet, namely the desire for purpose and passion complicated by the heartache of aging and loss.

The Calculating Stars seems to be a prequel to the novelette, telling of how this first lady astronaut came to be, long before she ever stepped foot on Mars. Give the short story a read and, if you love Elma’s tale and voice like I did, you'll want to add the book to your must read list too...

Waiting on Wednesday: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Waiting on Wednesday: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I'm a huge fan of diversity in sci-fi and fantasy, so when I came across Rebecca Roanhorse's Trail of Lightning and saw it described as an Indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road with a primary cast of Navajo characters that takes place on a Navajo reservation, this went straight to the top of my can't-wait-to-read gimme-gimme-now list, obviously.

While Indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road is pretty much a mic drop all on its own, there's even more awesome to this! It's #ownvoices, with a Native American author whose short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™, is nominated for both a Nebula and a Hugo award. It's an all-out breakneck apocalyptic adventure in a dystopian world where devastating climate change has awakened ancient legends and powers (and I was just thinking about climate fiction).

There are monsters and magic and a fierce female monster-hunting protagonist. And it's the start to a series, the next of which promises to be a post-apocalyptic road trip down Route 66! I mean... tell me this doesn't sound awesome? Take a look...

Waiting on Wednesday: The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

Waiting on Wednesday: The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world — there is no other quite like it, with its rich history and mythology and colorful characters. If it weren't for the less than perfect weather, it'd probably be the place I call home! Since my fascination with New Orleans was first born in the pages of a book (Anne Rice, obviously), any story set there automatically has my interest.

Mix a post-Katrina NOLA with a good dose of "magic, monsters, and miracles," add in a few mortal gods who can get killed, top it all off with a magical grifter, and you have a new urban fantasy series that goes from "interested" to "must read."

The City of Lost Fortunes, this week's Waiting on Wednesday pick, has all of the above, so go check it out...