June 16th, 2011
I’ve not been writing as much recently because I’ve been doing more reading as of late. If you know anything about writing, then you know that you can’t call yourself a writer if you’re not reading at least 12 times as much as you write.
This summer’s reading goal has been to read the entire Octavia Butler (1947 – 2006) collection. Octavia Butler is a Black woman, a Black feminist, and she writes Science Fiction–my favorite genre. Posthumously, she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010. Her 14 works are treasures and she is an inspiration for me, a Black woman, a Black feminist, also trying to make my mark in this world.
In this post, I wanted to briefly revisit my earlier rants about the lack of quality stories about Black people in cinematic representations, thus my inclusion of this post in my In the Name of Kwanza Series.
In Butler’s Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis) series, she’s writing about a woman who wakes up among an alien species after humans have destroyed the planet through nuclear war. Lilith is among the last human beings in existence and will give birth to a child that’s not quite human. It’s a story that complicates gender and race, one that digs all the way down into the meaning of what it means to be human after we’ve destroyed our world and all of our culture. Now that’s a movie waiting to happen. Or is it?
Butler and many other Black authors have been creating characters, situations, universes, alternate realities, that have gone unrecognized and mostly invisible in Hollywood as tangible sources from which to draw good, detailed, complicated stories for the big screen. Brown people have more stories to tell other than those of getting shot, getting married, getting rich or dying, or getting cheated on. We can do better and we don’t even have to look that far to do it: the library.
Books by Octavia Butler
Mind of My Mind (1977)
Wild Seed (1980)
Clay’s Ark (1984)
Seed to Harvest (2007)
Adulthood Rites (1988)
Parable of the Sower (1993)
Parable of the Talents (1998)
Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995), 2nd edition (2006)