Celebrating Octavia E. Butler

Celebrating Octavia

The Carl Brandon Society celebrated the birthday of the much missed Octavia E. Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) with two #CelebratingOctavia events: a virtual birthday party and a spotlight on some of the recipients of the scholarship named in her honor.

We wanted to honor the fact that that Butler was a visionary genius whose fiction continues to be relevant and insightful and also that she was a wonderful, kind person and great friend. And, as we’re committed to keeping her legacy alive, we’re following her example by supporting the next generation of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers–especially writers of color.

Our #CelebratingOctavia panels:

Celebrating Octavia E. Butler Virtual Birthday Party

Agent Merilee Heifetz and authors Tananarive Due, Sheree Renee Thomas, Nisi Shawl, and Steven Barnes celebrated Octavia’s birthday with stories and remembrances and laughter.

Octavia E. Butler Scholars Spotlight

This spotlight celebrates recipients of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship: authors Christopher Caldwell, Shweta Narayan, Dennis Staples, and Kai Ashante Wilson. They read from their work and/or talk about how the scholarship and attending the Clarion or Clarion West workshops impacted them as writers.

Donate Today!

If you’d like to donate to us directly and support the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship or our other major programs, such as the Parallax and Kindred Awards, you can mail donations to:

The Carl Brandon Society
PO Box 23336
Seattle, WA 98102

or donate via PayPal:




Accessibility Statement

These videos have auto-generated captions. We will provide corrected captions and possibly transcripts as soon as we are able.

Special Thanks

Video editing and bumper creation services provided by: Byron DeMent

#CelebratingOctavia Participant Bios

Steven Barnes

Steven is a New York Times bestselling, award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and creator of the Lifewriting writing course. He has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Cable Ace awards, won an Emmy for the “A Stitch In Time” episode of The Outer Limits, and an NAACP Image Award as co-author of the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series with actor Blair Underwood and his wife, Tananarive Due.

Steven has written three million words of published fiction published in seven languages, including comic books and over 20 novels. His television credits include Baywatch, Stargate SG-1, and Andromeda. In addition to Lifewriting, he teaches webinars on Afrofuturism and Black Horror.

Tananarive Due

Tananarive is an award-winning author who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA. She is an executive producer on Shudder’s groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. She and her husband/collaborator Steven Barnes wrote “A Small Town” for Season 2 of “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access.

A leading voice in black speculative fiction for more than 20 years, Due has won an American Book Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a British Fantasy Award, and her writing has been included in best-of-the-year anthologies. Her books include Ghost Summer: Stories, My Soul to Keep, and The Good House. She and her late mother, civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, co-authored Freedom in the Family: a Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. She is married to author Steven Barnes, with whom she collaborates on screenplays. They live with their son, Jason, and two cats.

Merrilee Heifetz

Merrilee represents authors of books for adults and children, including several #1 New York Times bestsellers and recipients of major awards and honors. She represented MacArthur Grant recipient Octavia E. Butler for the last 18 years of her life, and since 2006, has been the Literary Executor of the Butler Estate, for which she oversees licensing film and TV rights, translations, stage rights, permissions, and advises on scholarships and charities benefiting writers of color. Her Children’s Book authors have won, among them, three Newbery Medals and she would love to find more quality storytellers of diverse backgrounds.

Nisi Shawl

Nisi is the author of Everfair, Talk Like A Man, and dozens of short stories, many of which can be found in the James Tiptree, Jr. Award winning and World Fantasy Award nominated collection Filter House. She’s the co-author of Writing the Other and teaches seminars and classes on writing inclusive, representational fiction.

Nisi is the co-editor of Stories for Chip, Strange Matings: Octavia E. Butler, Feminism, Science Fiction, and African American Voices, and most recently New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color. She edits reviews for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a literary quarterly from Aqueduct Press. She is a founding member of the Carl Brandon Society and has served on the board for the Clarion West writing workshop.

Sheree Renée Thomas

Sheree creates art inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and conjure, and the genius culture created in the Mississippi Delta. She is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future, her first fiction collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, longlisted for the 2016 Otherwise Award, and Shotgun Lullabies, described as a “revelatory work like Jean Toomer’s Cane.”

She edited the two-time World Fantasy Award-winning volumes, Dark Matter, that first introduced W.E.B. Du Bois’s work as science fiction and was the first black author to be honored with the World Fantasy Award since its inception in 1975. Sheree serves as the Associate Editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora . A former New Yorker, she lives in her hometown, Memphis, Tennessee near her mother and the mighty river that is her muse.

Christopher Caldwell

Christopher Caldwell is a queer, Black American living abroad in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the 2007 recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship for Clarion West. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, FIYAH, and Uncanny Magazine among others. He is @seraph76 on twitter.

Shweta Narayan

Shweta Narayan was born in India, has lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Scotland, and California, and feels kinship with shapeshifters and other liminal beings. Their short fiction and poetry have appeared in places like Lightspeed, Transcendent 3, Tor.com, and Strange Horizons. One of their Clarion submissions stories, Pishaach, got edited into shape after going through Clarion critiques, and went on to lose a Nebula.

Shweta’s been mostly dead since 2010, but they write when health allows.

Dennis E. Staples

Dennis E. Staples, author of This Town Sleeps, is an Ojibwe writer from Bemidji, Minnesota. He graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an MFA in fiction. He is a graduate of the 2018 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction and Nightmare magazine. He is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Nation.

Kai Ashante Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson was the 2010 Octavia Butler scholar at the Clarion writing workshop in San Diego. He won the Crawford award for best first novel of 2016, and his works have been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. Most of his stories can be read, gratis, at Tor.com. His novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey may be ordered at your local bookstore or online. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.

Call for essays–Octavia E. Butler’s work

(Thank you to Kalamu Ya Salaam and his e-drum for the information.)

CFP: I’ve been a woman I-don’t know-how-many-times: A Critical Tribute to the Work of Octavia E. Butler

Essay collection, ed. Patricia Melzer

Over the course of twenty-five years, Octavia E. Butler published thirteen books and is the most widely known African American woman science fiction writer. The impact of her fiction has been significant both in popular and critical terms. Her compelling narratives reach audiences far beyond traditional genre classifications: she has gained dedicated readers outside the science fiction milieu and has achieved cult status across a variety of audiences, including feminist, African American, youth, and science fiction readers alike. Her narratives depict complex societies in which alien species force-breed with humans and humans mutate into alien forms, in which time travel and shapeshifters exist, and in which humans have telepathic abilities. Butler’s science fiction narratives are intriguing because of the complex and at times contradictory reading experiences they offer; they juxtapose affirmation of difference with experiences of colonization and slavery. At the center of her narratives, which Ruth Salvaggio defines as stories of power, are the struggles of strong female characters who negotiate the contradictions created by colonial encounters and chaotic social upheaval. Butler’s writing raises issues of how to resist racism, sexism, and exploitation in ways that elucidate many of the concepts we encounter in feminist thought, as well as in queer imaginations.

While not alone in re-imagining the ways in which race, gender, sexuality and nationality intersect, Butler’s work is set apart from that of most other writers in her challenging and pleasureable engagement of simultaneous discourses. Above all, her work has ignited a significant critical resonance across disciplinary boundaries as few science fiction writers have, in particular in feminist studies of utopian thought, African American literary criticism, postcolonial discourse, and genre literature.

Until her untimely death in 2006, Butler’s stories have inspired and influenced feminist debates, and they continue to impact readers’ lives today. This volume aims to bring together for the first time a comprehensive collection of critical essays on Butler’s writing. The anthology will combine previously published work that was influential in shaping much of feminist and — more recently — queer debates on Butler’s fiction with new scholarship engaging with Butler’s writing. Those approaches may involve readings of any of Butler’s works in terms of e.g. feminist theory, queer theory, science fiction studies, postcolonial theory, lesbian and gay studies, and critical race studies.

E-mail proposals for new articles as attachments to:

Patricia Melzer
Women’s Studies, Temple University
pmelzer@temple.edu
phone: 215.204.6953

Deadline for proposals (ca. 1000 words): March 30, 2007
Deadline for full manuscripts (ca. 8000 words): June 15, 2007

The editor, Patricia Melzer, is Director of Women’s Studies at Temple University and author of “Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought” (2006).

Dr. Patricia Melzer
Director, Women’s Studies Program
Temple University
1114 West Berks Street
816 Anderson Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
phone: 215.204.6953
fax: 215.204.9611

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