Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Giving Octavia E Butler the covers she deserves

A post at Literary Hub: How to Give Octavia Butler the Covers She Deserves

Then there were challenges specific to Octavia E. Butler’s Patternist series. I’ve already mentioned the staggering scope of the series’ content, but there was also the difficulty of positioning. 

And the author of this post then discusses that, but I will sum it up briefly with what I personally think is the accurate description of the difficulty of positioning Butler’s work: she was, at the time of her death, moving from science fiction toward literary. This makes it hard for readers to know quite how to approach her earlier books, which were absolutely science fiction, especially if those readers kind of think literary is “better.”

There are multiple versions of the new covers at the linked post. It’s quite interesting to see how the concepts evolved from version to version. Here are the final versions.

I think these are really quite good! Very literary, yet holding on to something evocative of the stories. I like the cover for Wild Seed the best of these, but actually I think they are all good.

It’s been quite a while since I re-read anything of Butler’s. I know Fledgling kept coming up in posts here not that long ago, so really, I do want to re-read that one of these days. Of these four … hmm. Wild Seed is far and away my favorite. Patternmaster is far an away the weakest — you can really tell Butler wrote it early in her career. My actual favorites of Butler’s are the Oankali series, what is that actually called? The Lilith series? Oh, Lilith’s Brood series. Anyway, amazing books. The short story “Bloodchild” is one I’ve always loved and always remembered, too.

I’ve always been glad I picked up Survivor when it was first published. I know Butler wasn’t happy with it, but I’m glad to have read it and glad I can re-read it and it’s nearly impossible to get anymore. Used copies on Amazon start at well over $200 and go way up from there.

I’m sure you’ve all read all of Butler’s work, right? What was your favorite? Or least favorite?

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