Octavia Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories by Octavia Butler
Hardcover – Library of America – Jan 2021 – 774 pages
Library of America extends its celebration of the best, most groundbreaking works of science fiction with a definitive new edition of the complete works of Octavia Butler. Eerily perceptive and still remarkably fresh, Butler’s distinctive approach to the genre has been extraordinarily influential, inspiring current practicioners like N. K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor. This first volume opens with Butler’s best-known novel, the harrowing and incisive Kindred, joined by the vampire novel Fledgling as well as her complete short stories.
In Kindred, a black woman married to a white man is pulled back and forth between her twentieth century present and a pre-Civil War past in which she finds herself enslaved on the plantation of her white ancestor, with repercussions both for her view of herself and her relationship with her husband. This landmark novel forever changed the way we think about what science fiction can do.
In Fledgling, a woman wakes up, covered in burns, in a mountainside cave with no knowledge of who she is or what happened to her. She discovers that she is a vampire, and that there are others like her–but among the long-lived Ina, who live in symbiosis with their human blood sources, she is something new: an experimental birth, containing African American human DNA that gives her dark skin, and therefore the feared and fearful ability to go out in sunlight. Ancient racial prejudice breaks out among the vampires as she seeks justice.
Also included are all nine of Butler’s published short stories, together in one volume for the first time, plus two essays from the Butler archive, a newly-researched chronology of her life and career, and helpful explanatory notes.