Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MIT Libraries logo MIT Libraries

Massaschusetts Institute of Technology logo Search Account

MIT Reads: Dawn by Octavia Butler: Octavia E. Butler

Dawn is the first book in Butler's Xenogenesis series.

The Mother of Afrofuturism

(c) Cheung Ching Ming

The Mother of Afrofuturism. The Grand Dame of Science Fiction. In her biography included in Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler described herself as "comfortably asocial, a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a black, a former Baptist, an oil and water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive." Butler's contributions to the world of science fiction are unparalleled, drawing from her voice as a black woman challenging a traditionally white male dominated genre.

During her career, Butler authored eleven novels and earned every major award in her field, including multiple Hugo and Nebula awards. She was also a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 1995, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.



As part of NPR's special report for the UN Conference on Racism, Weekend Edition Saturday's Scott Simon interviews Butler.

Octavia E. Butler joins Lawrence M. Krauss and David Brinn on an NPR piece about how science fiction writers use science to shape their stories



Octavia E. Butler, notes on writing, “Tell stories filled with facts…” ca. 1970-1995. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Octavia E. Butler, notes on writing, The Huntington Library. © Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

The Huntington Library currently holds Butler's collection of papers which were exhibited in 2017. You can learn more about the collection on the Huntington's website here, on the Radio Imagination webpage, and via the short video below:

TIME - Northeastern University professor Dr. Moya Bailey and Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network founder Dr. Ayana A.H. Jamieson discuss Butler and her works.