Why aren’t there more Science Fiction Black writers? There aren’t because there aren’t. What we don’t see, we assume can’t be. What a destructive assumption.
—Octavia E. Butler, in Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.
A small good thing amid the unrelenting horror:
This week, almost fifty years after she sold her first story, Octavia Butler finally made the New York Times Best Seller list, fulfilling her own prophecy at last, as writer Tananarive Due pointed out on Twitter:
THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Octavia Butler’s agent has posted that she is finally a NY Times bestselling author, one of Octavia’s goals! FANTASTIC!!! https://t.co/6GmfitV4Pf
— Tananarive Due (@TananariveDue) September 3, 2020
You would assume that Butler needs no introduction, but since it’s apparently taken five decades for this titan of American literature to make the list by which we measure a certain kind of literary success and renown, some brief schooling is clearly in order.
Octavia E. Butler, who died far too young in 2006, was the first SF author to receive a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” She was a multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. She was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the PEN American Center and inducted in to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Out there in the cold, silent reaches of space there is both an asteroid and a mountain on a moon of Pluto named after her.
A pioneer of extraordinary talent and vision whose writing, in its now-myriad forms, has inspired millions, Butler never needed the NYT Best Seller list to validate her life’s work, but it was something she wanted, something she deserved, and a cause today for celebration.