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PHOTO ESSAY

African American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

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Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler, right, stands with fellow writer Nalo Hopkinson at a Howard University conference on African American science fiction, March 2003. Photo courtesy of David Findlay and www.sfwa.org.

Octavia Butler (1947–2006) nurtured a lifelong interest in science fiction. Beginning as a writer at the age of 10—convinced that she could construct a better story than one she had seen on television—Butler grew to become an important voice both in the science fiction community and in the literary genre. Her work displays an innovative sensitivity to cultural, racial, and gender differences, and this approach is omnipresent in her consideration of fictional worlds and alternate realities. Her best-known work, the novel Kindred (1979), is exemplary of her emphasis on strong African American female protagonists, and the work remains distinctive in the genre. Butler won numerous awards throughout her career, including a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant in 1995.

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