Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a bestselling and
award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction
writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula
awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to
receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She was also awarded the
prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Her first
novel, Patternmaster (1976), was praised both for its
imaginative vision and for Butler’s powerful prose, and spawned
four prequels, beginning with Mind of My Mind (1977) and
finishing with Clay’s Ark (1984).
Although the Patternist series established Butler among the
science fiction elite, it was Kindred (1979), a story of a
black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum South, that
brought her mainstream success. In 1985, Butler won Nebula and Hugo
awards for the novella “Bloodchild,” and in 1987 she published
Dawn, the first novel of the Xenogenesis trilogy, about a
race of aliens who visit earth to save humanity from itself.
Fledgling (2005) was Butler’s final novel. She died at her
home in 2006.