Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler; foreword by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley tell us, "Unexpected Stories reveals the themes that would become Butler's  lexicon: the complicating mysteries we assign to poet, race and gender. Octavia Butler wrote these two stories, "A Necessary Being" and "Childfinder", early on in her journey from reader to writer, from fiction to unassailable reality. She is working out in these two very different stories the purpose she would refine with every book, every series, every word she subsequently wrote."

I am a big fan of Octavia Butler. Some of her works, I consider outstanding. Yet, there are books and stories that I find baffling (maybe as I get older, the messages will become clearer).

Unexpected Stories is an ebook consisting of two stories that were written very early in her career.

"A Necessary Being" is so relevant today that it is truly frightening.  An alien society places all of its hopes and governance on having a special and rare individual to rule them.  However, the people must physically cripple the selected individual so he can't run away and avoid his responsibilities. It made me consider the plight of the Presidency of the United States (or any great leader of a modern nation).  Octavia weaves an ornate tale where this superior being must suffer horrible torture for the good of the whole tribe. Ask President Obama about life as a President amongst people who naively love him or  mindlessly hate him, yet they all expect him to solve their problems.

"Childfinder" brings me back to Octavia's telepathic themes.  In a freaked-out world, people with special psychic abilities are hunted and collected for experimentation. This is probably where her Patternmaster (Patternist) series of novels began. As always, her precise writing and strong characters move the story emotionally. Yet, sligthtly disappointing to me, was its brevity and lack of conclusion; but it was still a good read and illuminating. The story builds the foundation for the tremendous novel "Wild Seed" which won huge accolades from the sci-fi community at-large.

As I said earlier, I am a big fan of Octavia B. She was a great writer.  We should honor her memory during Black Speculative Fiction Month October 2014 by reading her works.

October 2014 is Black Speculative Fiction Month, so tell everyone.  Visit your favorite online book dealer or go to your local bookstore. Buy something.  Read some of the great Black authors. Purchase books by emerging Speculative Fiction authors -- there are many who are very good but need your support.
If you are a writer, give us your best. Reveal the incredible people and worlds that you imagine. Dream the fantastic. Make us aware. Give us inspiration.
Reading and writing is what this month is all about. Get involved with Black Speculative Fiction Month. Spread the word. Start a movement.

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