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This anthology celebrates the work and exploring the influence and legacy of the brilliant Octavia E. Butler. Author Nisi Shawl and scholar Rebecca J. Holden have joined forces to bring together a mix of scholars and writers, each of whom values Butlers work in their own particular ways. As the editors write in their introduction: Strange Matings seeks to continue Butlers This anthology celebrates the work and exploring the influence and legacy of the brilliant Octavia E. Butler. Author Nisi Shawl and scholar Rebecca J. Holden have joined forces to bring together a mix of scholars and writers, each of whom values Butlers work in their own particular ways. As the editors write in their introduction: Strange Matings seeks to continue Butlers uncomfortable insights about humanity, and also to instigate new conversations about Butler and her work -- conversations that encourage academic voices to talk to the private voices, the poetic voices to answer the analytic... How did her work affect conceptions of what science fiction is and could be? How did her portrayals of African Americans challenge accepted assumptions and affect others writing in the field? In what ways did her commitment to issues of race and gender express itself? How did this dual commitment affect the emerging field of overtly feminist science fiction? How did it affect the perception of her work? In what ways did Butler inspire other writers and change the face of science fiction? How did she queer science fiction? In what ways did she inspire us and motivate us take up difficult subjects and tasks? In other words, what is her legacy?


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This anthology celebrates the work and exploring the influence and legacy of the brilliant Octavia E. Butler. Author Nisi Shawl and scholar Rebecca J. Holden have joined forces to bring together a mix of scholars and writers, each of whom values Butlers work in their own particular ways. As the editors write in their introduction: Strange Matings seeks to continue Butlers This anthology celebrates the work and exploring the influence and legacy of the brilliant Octavia E. Butler. Author Nisi Shawl and scholar Rebecca J. Holden have joined forces to bring together a mix of scholars and writers, each of whom values Butlers work in their own particular ways. As the editors write in their introduction: Strange Matings seeks to continue Butlers uncomfortable insights about humanity, and also to instigate new conversations about Butler and her work -- conversations that encourage academic voices to talk to the private voices, the poetic voices to answer the analytic... How did her work affect conceptions of what science fiction is and could be? How did her portrayals of African Americans challenge accepted assumptions and affect others writing in the field? In what ways did her commitment to issues of race and gender express itself? How did this dual commitment affect the emerging field of overtly feminist science fiction? How did it affect the perception of her work? In what ways did Butler inspire other writers and change the face of science fiction? How did she queer science fiction? In what ways did she inspire us and motivate us take up difficult subjects and tasks? In other words, what is her legacy?

46 review for Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Published by Aqueduct Press, this remarkable book is a tribute to Octavia Butler. It includes personal reminiscences; photos; a poem; a transcript of a conversation with Butler; and the bulk is made up of academic essays - most of which are also somewhat personal. I've read Butler's Xeongenesis/Lilith's Brood trilogy, but a long time ago... and that's about it. Maybe some short stories as well? It's one of those cases of 'I've always meant to read more...'. So it was a bit of a weird experience Published by Aqueduct Press, this remarkable book is a tribute to Octavia Butler. It includes personal reminiscences; photos; a poem; a transcript of a conversation with Butler; and the bulk is made up of academic essays - most of which are also somewhat personal. I've read Butler's Xeongenesis/Lilith's Brood trilogy, but a long time ago... and that's about it. Maybe some short stories as well? It's one of those cases of 'I've always meant to read more...'. So it was a bit of a weird experience for me to be reading academic analyses of stories that I haven't read. However, and all kudos to the authors, I was neither hampered by that lack of knowledge - they all explained their points exceptionally well - and nor was I put off reading those stories. I have in fact bought the Parables books and am exceedingly excited to read them, armed with the theoretical discussions from these essays. I'm honestly not sure whether I will read Kindred, and I know this is a privileged position as a white Australian. I will definitely read Fledgling at some point, for all Butler was apparently a bit embarrassed by her vampire fiction. What I loved about the essays presented here is that each author so clearly loved the work they were examining - not glossing over faults, but showing how rich and subversive and powerful and present-speaking and future-prescient they are. How remarkable the women are, and how different the relationships, and how challenging the suggestions of how society could be. It made me realise just how powerful an author Octavia Butler must have been. This is all beautifully resonant with the personal reflections included throughout. Butler's shyness and insecurity and amazing generosity all come through, emphasising the sheer humanity of the woman - which I know sounds ridiculous, but it sounds like she made her life so full, and extended that to people around her, despite problems. The transcript of Nisi Shawl's conversation with Butler, at the Black to the Future Conference in 2004, made me jealous of the people who got to see it live; Nnedi Okorafor's reflections on sending emails to Butler - even after she died - and Steven Barnes' very heartfelt reflections on his friend and mentor feel like precious gifts we should be thankful to have in print, so that we can glimpse those connections. Strange Matings is a magnificent tribute to Octavia Butler that clearly works for someone with very little knowledge of her work, and must also work for those who've read far more. It's provocative and powerful and human. Just like Octavia Butler.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ONYX Pages

    Wow. I'm so glad that I purchased and read this book. This was my only read for Nonfiction November and I'm glad that it was. Octavia E Butler is an exceptional writer. She now exists only in the ancestral realm, but she's remembered by many and continues to inspire new generations of science fiction writers, activists and Afrofuturists. This was a wonderful anthology of academic writing, life writing, personal essays, poetry, and photography commemorating the genius of Octavia E Butler. Many auth Wow. I'm so glad that I purchased and read this book. This was my only read for Nonfiction November and I'm glad that it was. Octavia E Butler is an exceptional writer. She now exists only in the ancestral realm, but she's remembered by many and continues to inspire new generations of science fiction writers, activists and Afrofuturists. This was a wonderful anthology of academic writing, life writing, personal essays, poetry, and photography commemorating the genius of Octavia E Butler. Many authors who I am currently reading such as Tananarive Due, Nnedi Okorafor, Steve Barnes, and Nalo Hopkinson have made their mark on this text. II found some of the academic articles overly verbose and contrary to Octavia E Butler's style of challenging but readable text. I'll also admit to skipping over some of those essays in lieu of pieces that bore emotional resonance. My favourite articles were those that paralleled engagement with her writing alongside the writer's personal narrative of coming into contact with Butler's work and being inspired by it. This anthology, more than any fiction that I've read recently, has inspired me to give birth to the short stories that have been living within me for years. What a stunning collection.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    i didn't actually read all of this book, just the essays about Butler's Parable books, in preparation for attending Toshi and Bernice Johnson Reagon's opera "Parable of the Sower." the essays were excellent and of a wide variety of styles and approaches. i have read only one of Butler's books to date, and now i want to go on a binge!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, edited by Rebecca J. Holden and Nisi Shawl, is a collection of essays and other works exploring communication, contact, power, community, boundaries, sexuality, reproduction and related issues in Octavia Butler's writing. As Constant Reader may recall, Butler is one of my 'touchstone' writers, the ones whose work I keep thinking about and seeing influences and traces of her in other works, so you would ex Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, edited by Rebecca J. Holden and Nisi Shawl, is a collection of essays and other works exploring communication, contact, power, community, boundaries, sexuality, reproduction and related issues in Octavia Butler's writing. As Constant Reader may recall, Butler is one of my 'touchstone' writers, the ones whose work I keep thinking about and seeing influences and traces of her in other works, so you would expect me to be excited and delighted when Aqueduct Press released this; and you would be correct. In their introductory essay to the collection, "Strange Matings and Their Progeny: A Legacy of Conversations, Thoughts, Writings, and Actions," Holden and Shawl explore the many meanings of Butler's boundary-crossing matings: "A mating between a human and a dolphin is far from the strangest of the strange matings in the fiction of Octavia E. Butler. Butler writes about matings between humans and a large variety of other beings, such as blue-furred aliens, tentacled aliens of three different sexes, insect-like aliens whose eggs hatch inside human hosts, and perhaps strangest of all, matings between all the varied categories of humans that we have divided ourselves into. What is most significant about all of the matings in Butler’s work, however, is not their strangeness, but what such matings produce or lead to — and the necessity of those matings. For Butler’s characters, the inevitable crossing and blurring of boundaries such matings entail often bring with them physical and emotional pain. Still, Butler shows us that these matings are key to her characters’ survival, both for the individual and for the group. Sometimes that survival is raw, as in Dawn, when Butler’s human protagonists mate with aliens in order to avoid extinction, and in Kindred, when slaves mate with their masters in order to preserve their own lives. And sometimes it is much more, as in the celebration of survival that Anyanwu engages in with her dolphin mate above. Butler herself crossed many boundaries — perhaps to ensure a certain kind of survival for herself and her ideas of what we might become. In the most obvious of these boundary crossings, she, an African-American woman, crossed into the then mostly white, male arena of science fiction in the 1970s, demonstrating that women of color could successfully inhabit the worlds of science fiction. At the same time, she refused to let either herself or her writing be solely defined by her race or her gender — though both affected her subject matter and overall themes. In this way, she also crossed into the mostly white, middle class arena of 1970s feminism." The bulk of the pieces in this collection are critical explorations of Butler's work - there are essays devoted to the Patternist books, Kindred, the Xenogenesis trilogy, the Parable duology, and some that explore multiple facets of her work. There are also reminiscences by friends and colleagues, selections from an interview conducted by Nisi Shawl, and some creative responses in dialogue with her work. It's a good mix of the academic and the anecdotal, the formal and the personal. The essays do an exceptional job of elucidating Butler's themes and ideas - for her books are, unabashedly, novels about ideas, novels to make the reader uncomfortable, to make her think about such weighty issues as gender and race, power, coercion and choice in a world of oppressors and oppressions, community, change, and the future of humanity. As Steven Shaviro writes in the essay "Exceeding the Human: Power and Vulnerability in Octavia Butler’s Fiction," "Butler’s novels produce feelings that exceed the human and that therefore imply new, different forms of subjectivity than are recognized in ordinary life (or in ordinary, “mimetic” fiction). They offer little hope of release, transcendence, or liberation. They sometimes flirt with religio-ethical responses to the traumas they depict (this is most notable in the two Parables ); but they always also emphasize the fictiveness of such responses. Butler’s novels often envision the posthuman, the transhuman, and the hybrid-no-longer-quite-human; but they never portray these in the salvational terms that white technogeeks are so prone to. Above all, Butler’s novels never pretend to alleviate the pain that they so eloquently describe and evoke: in this sense, they are utterly, shockingly clear as to the forms of domination and oppression that are so often taken for granted in our (post)modern, highly technologized, and supposedly enlightened world. They bear witness to the intolerable, to how much of our social life today remains intolerable. This makes them indispensable, both aesthetically and politically. I think that we still have a lot to learn from Butler’s texts: about how to understand human limits and constraints without turning such an understanding into an apologia for the current ruling order; about how to construct a politics of the Other; and about how to think about the posthuman, the no-longer-merely-human. And above all, Butler’s novels teach us about a politics of affect — not a politics of emotions against reason, but one that rejects such binary alternatives altogether." At the same time, the personal reminiscences by friends and colleagues give the reader a sense of the person, gifted and gracious but often struggling to refine her voice, that Butler was - and how deeply she affected and influenced a generation of writers who knew and studied with her, and how much she has been missed within the science fiction community. This collection is many things - an introduction to critical thinking about Butler's work, a glimpse into the way her community saw her, and a tribute to her memory. And in my humble opinion, it's essential reading for serious Butler fans.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    This is not the book for me right at this moment. I need to read more Butler first. And if you're wondering if you should read this: -If you read a lot of Butler and enjoy academic insights into literature, Yes! -If you haven't read a lot of Butler and still enjoy academic writing and perspective, Maybe

  6. 4 out of 5

    Inda

    I may include a review on my blog but for now I'll just say this is well worth it for anyone inside and outside academia as well as Octavia Butler fans.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jens Hieber

  8. 4 out of 5

    toria (vikz writes)

  9. 5 out of 5

    vanessa

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Jackson

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tanisha

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Janssen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Jones

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Anderson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  17. 5 out of 5

    M

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

  19. 4 out of 5

    Samirah

  20. 5 out of 5

    Izetta Autumn

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kyem

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Michael

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tamika

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Norton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

  32. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Ford

  33. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

  34. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

  35. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  36. 4 out of 5

    Gianna Mosser

  37. 5 out of 5

    Laura Smith-gary

  38. 4 out of 5

    Adrik Kemp

  39. 5 out of 5

    Kyla Li

  40. 4 out of 5

    cj

  41. 4 out of 5

    Sheree

  42. 5 out of 5

    Talisha

  43. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Maeda

  44. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  45. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  46. 5 out of 5

    Mary Margaret

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