Los Angeles Celebrates Native Daughter Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler, one of the finest science fiction writers ever, is being celebrated by her hometown with “Radio Imagination,” a yearlong series of cultural events honoring her legacy throughout the greater Los Angeles area.


Butler, who authored 12 novels and short stories, including Wild Seed, Clay’s Ark, Parable of the Sower, Lilith’s Brood and Parable of the Talents, is especially relevant today, since she was centering black women and people of color with fantastical stories long before ShondaLand took us on a roller coaster ride many years later. 

By the time she died of a stroke at age 58 in 2006, Butler had amassed international acclaim among fans of speculative fiction, a combination of science fiction, fantasy and horror, reports CNN.

The outlet reports that “the Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop is the driving force behind Radio Imagination, an ongoing program of cultural events honoring Butler’s legacy in partnership with institutions throughout Los Angeles. Named for a phrase Butler used to describe how she hears, rather than sees, her imagination, the tribute kicked off in February and continued Thursday with a panel discussion of her work at the Los Angeles Public Library. Readings, film programs and city tours are planned, culminating in a mixed-media exhibition at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts featuring work by eight artists inspired by Butler’s archive at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.”

Born in 1947 to a domestic worker and a man who shined shoes, Butler sought refuge in writing from her isolated existence as a tall, awkward black girl growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, according to CNN. She graduated from Pasadena City College in 1968 and went on to study at the Screenwriter’s Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, where she found a mentor in science fiction great Harlan Ellison.

She published her first novel, Kindred, in 1979, and in 1995 she became the first science fiction writer to win a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” fellowship. In 2010 she was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Read more at CNN.