In Kindred, Dana, a Black woman whose husband is white, is pulled back and forth between the California present and the pre–Civil War South, where she finds herself enslaved on the plantation of a white ancestor whose life she must save in order to preserve her own. Gripping and suspenseful, the novel uses the conceit of time travel to plumb the mutilating structures of slavery and the terrible cost they continue to exact.
A woman wakes up covered in burns in a mountainside cave with no knowledge of who she is or what has happened to her. In time she discovers that she is a vampire, and that there are others like her. Among the long-lived Ina, though, Shori is something new: an experimental birth, containing African American human DNA that gives her brown skin and the feared and fearful ability to go out in sunlight. Part murder mystery, part fantasy thriller, Fledgling is Butler’s incomparable take on the vampire novel.
This Library of America volume also includes eight short stories and five essays—including two previously uncollected—as well as a newly researched chronology of Butler’s life and career and helpful explanatory notes by scholar Gerry Canavan. Butler’s friend, the writer and editor Nisi Shawl, provides an introduction.
Gerry Canavan is an associate professor in the English Department at Marquette University, specializing in 20th- and 21st-century literature. An editor at Extrapolation and Science Fiction Film and Television, he has also coedited Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction (2014), The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction (2015), and The Cambridge History of Science Fiction (2019). His first monograph, Octavia E. Butler, appeared in 2016 in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series at University of Illinois Press.
Nisi Shawl is a founder of the diversity-in-speculative-fiction nonprofit the Carl Brandon Society and serves on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. Her story collection Filter House was a winner of the 2009 Tiptree/Otherwise Award, and her debut novel, Everfair, was a 2016 Nebula finalist. Shawl edited Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars (2013). She coedited Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler (2013).