Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
"What good is science fiction to Black people?" If you have ever wondered this, or if you've ever thought that the future was limited to shiny, cybernetic miracles, you need to read Bloodchild and Other Stories. A collection of five short stories and two wonderfully spare essays on the art of writing, this book serves as a fine introduction to the works of Octavia Butler (1947-2006).
Butler's novels have won the most prestigious awards in the science fiction world, even though they often deal with questions of race and culture that have not always captured the attention of science fiction writers, or the interest of science fiction readers. Her protagonists are frequently strong Black women - think Celie by way of Ellen Ripley. The stories in this volume include everything from synthetic diseases that rob people of their basic humanity to the subtleties of interpersonal relations in difficult circumstances. The title story is a science fictional exploration of the relationship between two unequal species that stands as a mind-bending exploration of slavery and human bondage. There are no laser swords or starships here - only a series of meditations on the possibilities of being human.