Monday, August 25, 2014

Unpublished Stories by Octavia Butler, one of Science Fictions all-time masters, Available for the First Time!

Troy Johnson, AALBC, sent me a notice of this new book and I thought it would be interesting to read and comment on stories that were being published posthumously. From Octavia Butler's extensive biography and rewards, I knew that they would prove to be ones I'd want to share on BRH... Thank you Troy, for bringing it to my attention...

Unexpected Stories

I always enjoy Walter Mosley's stories, so happily sawthat he was providing the Foreword... He opens with:
In a poem I once heard, a lonely young man walking past a desolate alley sees someone, a street denizen, a woman moving in the shadows. She looks familiar and he realizes that this is his mother— dead now for many years.
Reading posthumously published work of an author you loved is like this— shocking, strange, and very sad. And if that work was early on in the author’s career, it’s like seeing your mother as a woman younger and more hopeful than you, than I. 

 "A Necessary Being" takes us into the territory of Rohkohn Hao. Tahneh's father has died and Tahneh has ruled in his place for 20 years. She has been the only Hao and has certainly led a lonely life, but her followers love her and she has been a good leader to them...

Blue skin is considered the highest order of individual and when a group does not have a Hao in their midst, they will steal one and even maim the individual so he or she will not be able to escape.

The fascinating part for me was that, even though Blue represented power, all individuals would use various colors to express emotions... e.g., a flash of white was a response to immediately act as told. I wondered what it would be like if we could see the colors of people change based upon their being hurt or afraid. Would that calm anger or would it excite the one hurting another and prolong the abuse? In our world today, I think we all know that answer, don't we?

Tahneh was meeting with her Chief Judge when they got word that three strangers--a huntress, a judge, and a young Hao were soon meeting with her. Immediately her Chief Judge began planning how to capture the small group and take the Hao captive.

“You must come with us!” Her blue returned at that—returned harshly metallic , a cold threatening color. She said  nothing to Ehreh. She only looked at him. He understood that he had gone too far. He rose silently and left her.
Tahneh watched him silently, knowing that his elation would soon be shared by the rest of her people. Another Hao at last. A young one to be the successor that her body had been unable to produce, a child who could probably be captured without the danger and loss of life that would be involved in capturing an experienced adult...                                                           ~~~

There were a few things that were wrong from what she had first been told. The Hao was young... but not that young. Duit was humiliated when he realized that a small group had captured them. Tahneh had warned that they should be brought in with no harm to them but not everybody was in agreement. Two of them were kept bound while Duit went forward to meet Tahneh... He was from a mountain group...

She immediately greeted him as family, though they had never met. It had been a long time for both of them since they'd even seen another of Blue...  It was she who initiated the welcome they shared with each other.''

Rohkohn was a desert group, but, although it was not totally gone yet, the river was going dry. It was naturally believed that it was because they did not have a Hao. I thought it was interesting that they had let Tahneh more or less rule for years, but they continued to seek their own Hao for deliverance...

Fortunately Tahneh had her own ideas...

The second, much shorter story is Childfinder. Barbara had been gone from "The Organization" and had already started a small area where either the children came or she would bring those that she found. She would teach and try to help them understand how to make it in this world...

But then she had a visitor sent to invite Barbara to attend a meeting. She protested--she had her children... Ah yes, the children would be welcomed too! {Octavia's sitting in for Barbara...Can't you just see her saying...}

“So the others are right. You’re forming an opposing organization.”
 “We won’t oppose you unless we have to.”
 “A segregated black-only group … Don’t you see, you’re setting yourself up for the same troubles that plague the normals.” 
“No. Until you get another childfinder, I don’t think they’ll be quite the same. More like reversed.”
 I almost said, “How does it feel to be on the downside for a change.” Almost. 
And to one of the new people— the next step for mankind.
 Honest to God, that’s the way they talked when I was with them...

You know, I always find it interesting when "an organization" feels that they are on the right, good, and only track to benefit the world. Barbara easily saw right through them. She had been their Childfinder and then she was not... Barbara cared and loved the children. That was the difference... She wasn't in this to "get the gift" that most of the children had... Loved this one!

I did favor the second story just because it was short and put the issue right out there to the readers! But the first is more subtle in its message. Tahneh knew that she had been leading the people the same way her father had and also taught her. The issue was not the leader, not the Hao, not the Blue. It is not color that makes an effective leader. And she proved it, by teaching her new cousin as well! Wonderful moral to this story!

Do add this to your permanent library. Also included is an Afterword by Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House, who helped with publishing this book and a biography of Octavia Butler...

Here's a fun quote: "She began writing at twelve, when a B movie called Devil Girl from Mars inspired her to try writing a better science-fiction story." Guess that it was a great inspiration~ LOL! She succeeded in writing many great stories!


Octavia E. Butler (1947– 2006) was a bestselling and award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She was also awarded the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

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