Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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An Octavia E Butler Exhibit —

Here’s something interesting: An exhibit featuring Octavia E Butler: “Octavia Butler: Telling My Stories,” at the Huntington Library, in the Pasadena suburb of San Marino, CA.

Curator Natalie Russell went through some “8,000 manuscripts, letters and photographs, and an additional 80 boxes of ephemera” to create an exhibition that shows, in chronological order, how Butler’s career was born and evolved, and what influenced her….Large glass cases hold early notebooks and drawings, report cards from her days at Pasadena City College and notes to herself about character development. Early copies of her first editions are here. So is the one-page letter from the MacArthur Foundation notifying Butler she’d been chosen as a fellow in 1995….The walls are hung with blowups of Butler’s childhood drawings and the affirmations she repeated to herself: “I am a best-selling writer, I write best-selling books,” one says. “Every day in every way I am researching and writing my award-winning books and short stories.”

That encouragement was probably essential: Butler faced a lot of challenges….

She sure did! If I lived near San Marino, I’d definitely make time to swing by this exhibit.

Quick, what’s your favorite of Butler’s work?

For me, though I loved, say, Wildseed, my favorite was the Lilith’s Brood series.

I wish (for many reasons) that Octavia E Butler were still alive. One of those reasons is that I would love to ask her if she intended to create an alien species that differs most dramatically from humanity in that they have very different deep-set instincts they are less able to overrule.

Now that I’ve been reminded of it, I really want to read that whole series again.

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