Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler, brilliant master of sci-fi, dies at 58

For more than 30 years, Seattle science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler dreamed up fantastic worlds and religions, made-up creatures and futuristic plots. Then, in her stylistic prose, she used them to tackle the social issues she was most passionate about.

"Parable of the Talents," a futuristic story about a utopian community ravaged by civil war, explored modern-day issues of intolerance, the growing gap between rich and poor, and environmentalism. In her first novel, "Kindred," she plunged into racial issues when a modern-day character was transported into the body of a pre-Civil War slave.

"What [Ms. Butler] was writing for the first time was a kind of woman's-eye view, a very smart woman's-eye view, of say, 'Brave New World' or '1984,' " said writer Harlan Ellison, Ms. Butler's friend and mentor.

Ms. Butler died Friday at Northwest Hospital after a fall at her home in Lake Forest Park. She was 58.


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