It would be interesting to know what Butler meant by Survivor being her “Star Trek novel.” (Mostly because there are many Star Trek writers whose non-Star Trek work is really good.) Does it mean simplistic themes or worldbuilding? I can see traces of both in the story, in the way that Alanna has an almost suspicious ability to adapt to other communities and the way the Kohn are able to hide due to the natural camouflage of their fur. (This is followed by Alanna realizing that she is more comfortable with the Tehkohn than she had been among the Missionaries.) There’s also the white/black morality of the Missionaries versus Alanna’s more pragmatic feral upbringing. (And how it compares with the way the Tehkohn assimilate her into their community.) This juxtaposition of similar situations does have the feeling of a Star Trek type morality tale–too simple, too neat, and maybe too obvious.
This speculation is not meant to be a judgment on whether Butler was right to disown the book. This is just an example of one of the questions I’d like to ask her, if I could. Continue reading
One thing I’ve noticed about Octavia Butler’s writing is that she tended to write protagonists who end up with a self-imposed mission of saving people who might not actually want to be saved. Lilith from the Xenogenesis series is one such character, the protagonist of Parable of the Sower is another.
Alanna’s self-appointed mission is to free the Missionaries from Garkohn influence, though it might be better said that she wants to free her foster parents from Garkohn influence. It’s pretty clear that Alanna has very little attachment to the other Missionaries. Her primary focus is for her foster parents who “civilized” her and treated her with compassion. Continue reading
Survivor is technically a part of Butler’s Patternist sequence, except Butler disowned it. She also referred to it as her “Star Trek novel” for reasons which may soon become clear. I acquired Survivor via slightly sneaky means, in this case a pdf. file that I downloaded. The copy has a lot of typos and in general is kind of cruddy but still readable. Continue reading
Seven Stories Press
Fledgling is another one of those books that took me a while to get around to reading. I was not entirely sure what to think when I first heard that Octavia Butler was going to write a vampire novel. (Let’s just say there was some metaphorical pearl-clutching and leave it at that.) I do not really like vampire novels all that much, even though I always seem to end up reading them. (Most urban fantasy novels have vamps in them. There is no escape.) Continue reading