MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 1995

Octavia Butler


Pasadena, California

Age: 48 at time of award

Deceased: Feb. 24, 2006

Published July 1, 1995

Octavia Butler, a writer of science fiction, brought elements of African and African-American spiritualism, mysticism, and mythology to her novels and stories.

Her novel, Kindred (1979), introduced the science fiction community to slavery in the United States through a narrative involving time travel, while Parable of the Sower (1993) raised questions about the environment, technology, theology, and metaphysics.  Butler's Patternists series includes five novels published between 1976 and 1984, and investigates issues of gender and class identity within a society managed by an elite group of telepaths.  Her Xenogenesis trilogy, including Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989), depicts the near destruction of the human world due to prejudice, class conflict, and violence.  Her imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.

Butler was an independent writer and lived in Seattle, Washington.  Among her other works are the novella Bloodchild (1995, 2d ed. 2005), Parable of the Talents (1998), Lilith's Brood (2000), and Fledgling (2005).

Butler received an A.A. (1968) from Pasadena City College and attended California State University, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Last updated January 1, 2006