Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Remembering Octavia Butler: two podcast recommendations

I’ve written about respected SF writer Octavia Butler at this site before, when reviewed her two Parable books. Today is the fifteenth anniversary of her death, so I thought I’d slip in this brief recommendation for two podcast episodes that deal with her and her work.

The first is the February 18 episode of the history podcast Throughline. It contains a really good overview of her life and career and also discusses the significance of her work, not just to the field of science fiction or literature in general, but also in the way that inspired a whole slew of Black writers who took their cue from her – I like that it also includes an interview with another of my favorite writers, Nnedi Okorafor.

The other is yesterday’s episode of Democracy Now! It includes a 2005 interview with Butler by show hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González, as well as an interview with author and activist adrienne maree brown. (You have to scroll ahead to about the 37th minute, though, as the first part of the show is a rundown of news headlines and then an unrelated story).

What I really like about this interview is that in it, Butler actually reads a quote from Parable of the Talents – the very same quote I cited at the end of my review. I’m kind of pleased that she highlighted it, because as she mentioned in that interview, it seems to be an eternally relevant warning: as it was in 1998 when she first published it, so it remained in 2005, and in 2020, and will be for a long time to come.

(photo by Nikolas Coukouma)


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