What Octavia gave us

I was privileged to know and love Octavia during her lifetime, and now I get to write about that, and about the aftermath.  Here’s my most recent piece, an essay on Octavia’s legacy commissioned by her epublisher, Open Road Media.  Lots of gorgeous photos and lively links, too.

2019 Octavia Birthday Fundraiser

June 22 is Octavia E. Butler’s birthday—she’d be 72 years old if she were still alive today. Butler was a writer, a visionary, and a genuine, certified genius—and also a community-minded activist who worked to make a place for people of color within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror communities. She was an early and enthusiastic member of the Carl Brandon Society. In that spirit, the Carl Brandon Society is celebrating Octavia’s time here with a Butler Birthday fundraiser that will allow us to continue her work and change the world of speculative fiction the way she changed it—for the better.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 by July 22, and we’ve already raised over $2,300. Reaching this goal will allow us to continue our major programs, such as the Octavia E. Butler Scholarships for writers of color attending the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops, and also our Parallax and Kindred awards for excellence in literature challenging racial and ethnic stereotypes.

To date, CBS has funded 27 scholarships for students of color attending the Clarion and Clarion West workshops, presented 6 Kindred and 7 Parallax Awards, and provided 20 years of support and strategizing for People of Color seeking representation in our field. All with the help of generous donors like you.

The Carl Brandon Society is a 501( c )3 organization, so your donation is tax-deductible in the U.S.

Donate now electronically (credit and debit cards accepted) by clicking the button below.

Or send a check or money order made out to the Carl Brandon Society to:

The Carl Brandon Society
P.O. Box 23336
Seattle, WA 98102

Continue celebrating Octavia’s birthday by reading these tributes to her literary influence at LitHub: https://lithub.com/the-grand-cultural-influence-of-octavia-butler/

We’ll announce this year’s scholars upon the completion of the Clarion and Clarion West workshops this summer.

Thank you!

The Carl Brandon Society Steering Committee

What the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship Meant to Me: Dennis Ginoza

I discovered Octavia Butler’s work when I was in my thirties. I don’t remember how I came across Parable of the Sower, but in the days after 9/11, when it seemed we were lurching into a civilizational war, Butler’s dystopian novel was a revelation for me. It wasn’t just the themes she explored or the audacity of her ideas that thrilled, it was the perspective of her characters that truly engaged me. Growing up, I’d read lots of speculative fiction. While these works had always entertained, I’d never really connected with them at a more essential level, I could not recognize myself or the people around me in the fantastical books that I was reading. Perhaps that’s why, as an Asian kid who grew up in Hawaii public housing, I’d come to regard SF as a relic of my childhood.

Octavia Butler brought me back to speculative fiction. Despite the differences in our backgrounds, I recognized my own experiences in her work— the sense of being an outsider in your own culture, a sojourner in the only world you have ever known, a longing for something more, for connection and community. I began reading all of her books— Kindred, the Patternist series, the Xenogenesis trilogy. Each reaffirmed not only Octavia Butler’s extraordinary talent, but also her deep empathy for determined survivors trying to navigate oceans of brutality and oppression.

As I came late to Octavia Butler’s work, I also started writing fiction later than most at age forty. In 2011, I was honored to be awarded the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship. Attending the Clarion Writers’ Workshop was a powerful experience. As a Butler Scholar, I felt an added responsibility to contribute to the workshop. While I never met Octavia Butler, I like to think that she would have enjoyed knowing that the scholarship in her honor enabled an older, Asian-American writer who uses a wheelchair to be part of the very writing workshop she attended and taught. The sense of community I found at Clarion reflected the inclusive vision of Octavia Butler’s writing. I am, and remain, deeply grateful to have been part of the Clarion Class of 2011. It would not have been possible without the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship.