Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Life 6: "I didn't imagine that loneliness had a scent."

fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Surprisingly, a lot of people I’ve spoken to have never read Octavia Butler. She was one of the most wonderful sci-fi/speculative fiction writers EVER. I have read both the Patternist and Xenogenesis series, though I haven’t gotten to a couple of the stand-alones yet. Xenogenesis is more traditionally sci-fi in that you’ve got aliens, etc. The Patternist series, whose events begin in Wild Seed, though that was the next-to-last book in the series to be written, is less traditional but one of the most amazing series I’ve ever read. This book, Fledgling, was her last novel.

First, let me say that it’s about vampires, but not any vampires you have seen. These are not Anne Rice’s urban beauties or Stephanie Meyer’s ridiculous creatures, but something new and fabulous. They do remind me a bit of the creatures in the Mayfair witch novels, though. If you’ve ever read Butler, you know that a short overview is not possible. Suffice it to say that it is a complex and complicated tale, and if she hadn’t passed on in 2006, I’m sure this would have been the beginning of a new series. Her stories are never just about vampires or aliens or whatever. It’s always about race and family and free will and sexual politics in strange and wonderful ways, though she isn’t so heavy-handed as to make it unreadable to those who simply want a good story. If you love sci-fi or speculative fiction of any kind, do yourself a favor and pick up one of her novels or stories. Oh, and if you’re already a fan, there are two uncollected short stories online that I just discovered. The links are at the bottom of the page at (“Amnesty” and “The Book of Martha”).

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