Thursday, March 18, 2010
"Bloodchild" by Octavia Butler
Musings: I was intrigued by Butler's Kindred and was interested in more of her heavier science fiction, so I picked up Bloodchild. It's an interesting collection of works: three traditional high science fiction stories, one story in the "real world," one story that falls in between, an autobiographical essay, and an essay on writing. I prefer books of short stories that are intended as a cohesive unit, so although some parts of Bloodchild were interesting, I felt less affected by the book as a whole.
I did like that Butler includes a short afterword following each story explaining some of her thought processes behind the story. It's was interesting to read about Butler's mindset when she wrote and compare my reactions to the story to her intentions.
My favorite story was probably "Speech Sounds," set in a post-apocalyptic world where disease has made people unable to communicate (i.e. unable to speak/understand language or read/write). In this world, a friendship develops between a woman named Rye and a man named Obsidian. "Speech Sounds," like most of the stories in the collection, focus on relationships between people. These relationships are often strained by secrets and things unsaid. But the relationships in Butler's stories are also made of people willing to accommodate, adjust, and accept in order to find some peace.
Another story, "Bloodchild," was very traditionally science fiction, which is not a genre that particularly appeals to me, so I had a difficult time getting in to the story. Butler's essays had some interesting information but felt like they were lacking much life or enthusiasm.
I admire Butler's work and the issues she addresses, so I'm sure I'll try something else by her, but perhaps I'll look more carefully for one within my genre tastes.
***This book qualifies for the POC Reading Challenge.