Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler Dies at 58

Host Ed Gordon remembers science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, who died on Friday at the age of 58. She was the first African-American woman to gain prominence as a sci-fi author. Her first novel, Kindred, released in 1979, told the story of a black woman who travels back in time to save a white man.

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ED GORDON, host:

And now some sad news to report. Science fiction writer, Octavia Butler, died on Friday after falling and hitting her head on a cobbled walkway outside of her Seattle home. Butler was the first African-American woman science fiction writer to gain national prominence. Her first novel, Kindred, released in 1979, told the story of an African-American woman who travels back in time and saves a white man. Mrs. Butler spoke with NPR's Allison Keyes in 2004 about her writing.

Ms. OCTAVIA BUTLER (Science Fiction Writer): I want to write about what's going to happen if we keep doing what we've been doing, if we keep recklessly endangering the environment, if we keep paying no attention to economic realities, if we keep paying no attention to educational needs, if we keep doing a lot of the things that are hurting us now. And that's what I wound up writing about. And everything else just kind of fell into it, fell into place.

GORDON: In 1995, Butler became the first science fiction writer to win the prestigious Genius Award from the MacArthur Foundation. Butler's most recent book, Fledgling was published last fall. She was 58 years old.

That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us. To listen to the show, visit npr.org. NEWS AND NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

I'm Ed Gordon. This is NEWS AND NOTES.

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