Discussion Board

Topic: Octavia Butler

From: Nick Abbott
Location: California
Date: 01/22/2008


A 100 member Octavia Butler reading/discussion group has been asking a couple of questions about Butler. I thought you might be able to answer them, as you were both board members of Seattle's Science Fiction Museum.

The questions are:
1) Which authors most influenced Butler (e.g. Delaney)?
2) She reportedly had her seattle home 'floor to ceiling' with books, that must have been great to have actually seen. What happened to the collection?

The Octavia Butler group itself is on-line at:

P.S. Also, personally, a great fan of yours. dropped you a line earlier when the UK version of Quantico was published.


Re: Octavia Butler

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/22/2008

Thanks for writing, Nick. Octavia's house was a tidy dark brown rambler in a suburban neighborhood, and the rooms I saw were filled with books--not too unusual for writers! I believe her library was placed in the care of her relatives, but do not know for sure what became of them. Harlan Ellison was a good friend and supporter of Octavia in her early writing years, and took her death hard. I suspect Octavia was influenced by many different writers, again, like most of us, and she greatly enjoyed talking about her last book and the vampire theme. No doubt she enjoyed reading her predecessors in that genre. She was never stuffy or snobbish, and her talk sparkled with a quiet, sharp intelligence. Often enough she asked that she be judged as a writer, not a black writer--but she passed along her inspiration to a new generation of black women who carry on her explorations. One of her best friends, Leslie Howle, took many pictures and portraits, and helped arrange Octavia's wake at the Science Fiction Museum. It was fun to know Octavia, and with her gone, no doubt I'll miss out on some key insights.

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