The Bleak Futures of Octavia Butler

‘Throughout her fiction, Butler seems unable to conceptualize human beings as we currently are surviving. Whether it’s intervention from an extraterrestrial species or developing traits that allow us to evolve beyond our humanity, we have to become something unrecognizable in order to survive. Then the question becomes: if that is the requirement, did humans really survive? Or are we fated to self-immolate? When I read the news, I often feel that Butler was sharing a truth with this observation–but I don’t want it to be true. I want humans to be capable of collectively overcoming whatever impulse there is inside us that causes us to want to destroy one another.’

Sci Femme

Books discussed in this essay: Parable of the Sower (1993); Parable of the Talents (1998); Lilith’s Brood(2000); Fledgling (2005); Seed to Harvest (2007). Some spoilers.

Octavia Butler had a bleak outlook on the future of humanity, judging by her forward-looking science fiction novels. The dystopias portrayed in Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and Clay’s Ark (part of the Patternist series) depict a complete regression of civilization and are marked by senseless violence and brutality. In the Xenogenesis series, humanity has been all but wiped out in a global nuclear war.

When Butler looked ahead, she seemed to see only one thing that could save us: a transcendence beyond our brutal human natures. What we would become in these visions may no longer resemble human beings–and Butler seemed ambivalent about this–but it might offer the only hope for our salvation.

1415945710943494543Each of these series posits such…

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Tweets of the Week: To kill a tweetingbird

In no particular order:

B.L.A. hopes to be on this list some day:

On a story featuring Hephaestus:

 

 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

Mythpunk

Quote:
Do we really need all these labels, all these punks? We probably don’t need them. But because of them, certain writers and works are talked about. So they enable us to have conversations we did not have before. They allow us to notice writers we might have overlooked. And they allow those writers to speak and say, “This is what I am. Or am not.”

Theodora Goss

I’ve been wanting to write about Mythpunk since JoSelle Vanderhooft’s interview of Catherynne M. Valente came out.

But I didn’t have time. And then a week later there was a Mythpunk Roundtable with Amal El-Mohtar, Rose Lemberg, Alex Dally MacFarlane, and Shweta Narayan, moderated by JoSelle.

And at some point I found Niall Harrison’s blog posts: Mythpunk and amimythpunkornot.com. All on Strange Horizons.

It was interesting to see that several of the above mentioned me. I also ended up in the Wikipedia definition of mythpunk:

“Described as a subgenre of mythic fiction, Catherynne M. Valente uses the term ‘mythpunk’ to define a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy. Writers whose works would fall under the mythpunk label are Catherynne M. Valente, Ekaterina Sedia, Theodora Goss, and…

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