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My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.A collection of seven speculative short stories, featuring a pair of essays on writing, Bloodchild uses the tropes of science fiction to probe existential questions and imagine alternatives to the present The fiction ranges from considering what a world stripped of speech might look like, to questioning how one might create a utopian society if granted godlike powers In precise prose, Butler moves at a measured pace in all the stories, lending herself enough time to delve into the subtleties of her ideas Her essays, by contrast, offer practical advice about craft, in addition to recounting the difficulties she faced as a Black woman author working in a genre dominated by white men The essays were a highlight of Bloodchild, and while I m not a fan of sci fi, the stories were so thoughtfully constructed that I enjoyed the collection as a whole. (((Download Kindle))) ↵ Bloodchild and Other Stories ✓ A Perfect Introduction For New Readers And A Must Have For Avid Fans, This New York Times Notable Book Includes Bloodchild, Winner Of Both The Hugo And The Nebula Awards And Speech Sounds, Winner Of The Hugo Award Appearing In Print For The First Time, Amnesty Is A Story Of A Woman Named Noah Who Works To Negotiate The Tense And Co Dependent Relationship Between Humans And A Species Of Invaders Also New To This Collection Is The Book Of Martha Which Asks What Would You Do If God Granted You The Ability And Responsibility To Save Humanity From Itself Like All Of Octavia Butler S Best Writing, These Works Of The Imagination Are Parables Of The Contemporary World She Proves Constant In Her Vigil, An Unblinking Pessimist Hoping To Be Proven Wrong, And One Of Contemporary Literature S Strongest Voices My last night of childhood began with a visit home. The short sci fi horror lite story of the title, Bloodchild, opens thus You know something significant, and probably not good, will happen But at first, it s a pleasant enough domestic scene among the family, sipping a soporific but rejuvenating egg, snuggling against the velvet underside of someone s something s embrace.The awareness of mysteries and taboos grows slowly, seeded by careful choice of vague but uneasy words the need for one s people to be available , concern about thinness, choosing an infant, living in the Preserve And then there is a gross out scene That leads to a choice A dreadful choice, but a newly informed one And choice, especially about family, is the beating, bleeding, bloody heart of the story A story of coming of age, adoption, family, sacrifice, symbiosis, improbable love, impregnation, and birth, against a background of enslaved refugees And it challenges our primeval assumptions about gender Search Google images for fan art, and you ll get idea of exactly what it s about Clue it s not about birds or crocodiles The picture above is a loose analogy There s an excellent profile of Octavia Butler HERE It includes pictures of some of her notes, of which this is my favourite, especially the final exhortation Butler certainly made me feel as if I d touched, tasted, and known, and above all, to feel, feel, feel This fully deserves its prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards from 1985 and 1984, respectively. I believed I was ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless I also thought that everyone would notice these faults if I drew attention to myself I wanted to disappear I hid out in a big pink notebook one that would hold a whole ream of paper I made myself a universe in it There I could be a magic horse, a Martian, a telepath There I could be anywhere but here, any time but now, with any people but these This anthology includes two essays, one of which is autobiographical I don t normally read biographies but I wanted to read every page in this book and I am very glad Ms Butler decided to include this little essay I get such a sense of her kindness, warmth, and generosity that I am surprised to learn she was a lonely child, if I had a friend like her I would have strived to make her my bestie But she does mention that she was very shy, but she did mature into a pillar of strength and an inspiration for many writers and readers This year s Hugo winner N.K Jemisin, a black female science fiction author, calls Butler her personal grandmaster and that left behind a lot of children, spiritually speaking.Young Octavia Bloodchild and Other Stories contains five mostly great short stories and a couple of excellent essays There is also an Afterward after each story where she briefly talks about the inspiration that led to the story When I read professional reviews of anthologies they do not generally go through each story one by one, I thought I would try to be professional for the sake of skill development, but then I thought, Nah I like doing it like this So here we go Blood ChildHer most famous story available to read free online , you can also download a PDF version if you Google for it It is something of a sci fi body horror story where humans in a colony on an alien planet have a long running bizarre symbiotic relationship with an alien race called the Tlic.It is a brilliant story, but also quite horrifying and gross, yet the underlying theme is love and sacrifice According to the Afterward, Butler was inspired by something that frightened her and she coped by making the idea benign in a gross sort of way , it is also a thought experiment on male pregnancy don t worry, I am not giving anything away because there is no male pregnancy as such in the storyT Gatoi liked the idea of choosing an infant and watching and taking part in all the phases of development I m told I was first caged within T Gatoi s many limbs only three minutes after my birth A few days later, I was given my first taste of egg The Evening and the Morning and the NightThen he began tearing at himself, through skin and bone, digging He had managed to reach his own heart before he died Oh my gawd Does that make you doubt the warm and fuzzy description of Ms Butler earlier in this review This story is about a disease called The Duryea Gode Disease caused by drugs taken by pregnant women which lead to a genetic flaw in their children that will cause them to lose their minds later in life How much later varies between individuals Initially, it reminds me of the berserker madness like 28 Days Later, but this is decidedly not a zombie apocalypse story There are no zombies and civilization is still fully operational The situation is analogous to the Thalidomide birth defects in the 60s On a deeper level, it is about how genetic diseases affect the sufferers lives and the value they put on their lives.Near of KinThis is a mainstream non SF F human drama story about the relationship or lack thereof between a girl and her now deceased mother, her closer relationship with her uncle and grandmother, the secret she always suspected about her mother, the mother s shame, and the regret of mutual rejection of each other until it is too late This kind of introspective melancholy story is not usually my cup of tea but if Ms Butler makes the tea I will happily have a few cups It is also very short and it is certainly not bad, Octavia Butler does not do bad I imagine her laundry list is also quite a good read I like her Afterward for this story than the story itself, she does not explain the nuances of the story leaving that to the reader but talks about what inspired itShe s dead, said my uncle flatly How much time and energy are you going to waste resenting her Speech SoundsThis is a post apocalypse and a dystopia story Civilization seems to be on its last legs here, the details are a little vague, some buses still run intermittently, but there is no law and order left The apocalypse is caused by a disease contracted by everybody that causes intellectual impairment , in the form of irreversible loss of literacy, speech or both It is amazing how Butler can write such a poignant post apocalypse short story I have always expected post apocalypse fiction to be epic in scope Again a wonderful Afterward follows the story, there is a slightly chatty tone in this one that makes me feel as if she was telling me of the anecdote that inspired the story How she felt mankind was hopeless when she started writing it and feels hopeful again when she finished Writing was potent therapy for her.CrossoverThis is another very short mainstream story, full of sadness, alienation, self loathing and passion It is, of course, well written but is a completely miserable story If it was not written by Butler I would have hated it Again it is about an outcast woman who does not fit in, but the anti heroine here is not the typical strong resourceful Butler protagonist, quite the opposite The Afterward to this story is great Apparently, Butler was scared of weirdos Positive ObsessionThis is an essay autobiography about Butler s obsession with writing as a child, the first story she sold, the numerous rejections that followed and the eventual success This is a beautiful autobiography, I don t normally read bios, and she did not enjoy writing it she prefers writing fiction In spite of all that she wrote something very special here that I will always remember I love how much she loves the sci fi genre and staunchly defends it, she is like an anti AtwoodAt college, I took classes taught by an elderly woman who wrote children s stories She was polite about the science fiction and fantasy that I kept handing in, but she finally asked in exasperation, Can t you write anything normal Furor ScribendiThis essay is basically advice for aspiring writers, it reminds me a little bit of Stephen King s On Writing, but much shorter obviously, and it has that charming Octavia touch Her drive and burning passion for writing are like a force of nature The essay ends with a one word paragraphPersist .AmnestyBack to science fiction The basic concept is similar to Blood Child, there is even some kind of symbiosis going on, yet the theme is very different Earth has been colonized, but not subjugated, by aliens They set up colonies in desserts, vast areas not used by humans Their technology is far superior and Earth s military forces can pose no threat to them When the aliens first arrived they captured, experimented on and unintentionally tortured human beings, but only because they had no knowledge of human physiology Once communication between the two species is established the aliens treat humans with respect due to sentient life forms Some humans go to work for them, helping with research, experiments, and whatnot One of the human leave the alien colony after living with them for years and is immediately arrested by the military and treated as a traitor, imprisoned and tortured.Ultimately this is a story of man s inhumanity to man even with full understanding of what causes pain and suffering some of us are still quite happy to inflict pain that we would not want to be inflicted on us In spite of her exasperation with the human race, Butler did love humanity and tried her best to help nudge it in the right direction.The Book of MarthaDon t you know what I see she demanded and then quickly softened her voice Don t you know everything God smiled No, I outgrew that trick long ago You can t imagine how boring it was This is a story about a woman who is tasked by God to make the world a better place in any way she can think of It is not a religious story and God is not portrayed entirely positively It is a story about the responsible application of power and possibly dire consequences from misuse A story to ponder.These are diverse stories the two essays notwithstanding they all have a moral center, depth and complexity However, if you read her essays you will know how she loves stories and storytelling, so her fiction is not a platform for preaching The themes of each story lend substance or meaning beyond the narrative, but I am sure she would be just as happy if you just read them as stories This wonderful anthology is up there with Ted Chiang s classic Stories of Your Life and Others The Afterward after each story is very much appreciated She never over explains any of the preceding stories but gives some insight into her inspiration and thought processes Read this for a thrilling, moving, thought provoking experience Notes Here is an excerpt from Ms Butler s notebook When you read top part it may seem like she was simply chasing fame and fortune, but by the end of the page you will get her humanity and compassion, and why she is such an inspiration and a great role model.Another noteworthy uh note. Bloodchild is a collection of short stories by the famous science fiction writer Octavia Butler The problem with most short story collections is that they are usually a mixed bag, populated with mostly mediocre stories speckled with a few stinkers and a few gems Well, I am happy to report to you that Bloodchild is not like that at all Every single story in this collection is captivating, intelligent, and written in a style that is clear and accessible without losing any of its sophistication.What really struck me about Bloodchild was the sheer emotional impact of each story Because each story is such a perfect little world, and because the characters are so well realized, every story really packs a punch I put down the book between each story, incapable of doing any real thinking because I was so blown away by what I had just read I think the effectiveness of the stories comes from a mix of excellent writing and characterization and the way Butler uses those characters to explore complex ideas One of Butler s strengths is in never letting her work become preachy or one sided Butler s ideas are as complex as her characters, and that makes her stories resonate in a very real and powerful way.Usually, this would be the part of the review where I would tell you which stories were my favorite and which ones to skip, but I can t really do that with this collection, because they are all absolutely worth reading I believe that Butler s most famous stories are Bloodchild and Speech Sounds, both of which are in this collection and both of which are absolutely mind blowing Bloodchild actually left me speechless and shaking by the time I finished it Her other stories are subtle, but are still incredibly well written There are also two essays included in the book, my favorite of which was Positive Obsession Since I bought the updated version of the book, I got an extra two stories on top of the original five stories and two essays If you are going to get it, I recommend getting the updated version, because the two added stories are both very good, especially Amnesty In all of the stories Butler s characters are absolutely convincing, and her story telling is so smooth that you never need time to get adjusted to the story, even when you are dropped right in the middle of the action That is, to me, a sign of a great writer.I know this review is vague, but that is only because Butler s stories are so good I don t feel like I need to speak for them, and I m not sure that I could even if I wanted to If you want intelligent stories with concise yet vivid writing and realistic characters, then Octavia Butler is absolutely the writer for you.Rating 5 starsVivid writing, engaging plot, convincing characters, and intelligent world building Highly recommended. Octavia Butler never fails to delight me, make me think about things differently and make me feel well, an awful lot of feelings I will not attempt to summarize the stories in this collection of short fiction that whole book can be devoured in a couple of sittings, and if you enjoy speculative fiction, you owe it to yourself to check this out These are stories about survival, love, family, language, intimacy, dreams and faith Sometimes there are aliens, sometimes there is a disease and sometimes there is just a mystery that hovers lightly over the characters, like a veil But in every case, the question of what it means to be human and how we can be better at it is deeply pondered The prose is clean and elegant, never didactic but always thought provoking.My edition also includes two essays about writing, which would honestly be worth the price of the whole book, because anyone who has ever even thought of writing can benefit from Ms Butler s thoughts on the matter.These stories are truly beautiful and not a single word of them is wasted Highly recommended Where do I begin with this treasure trove of a book This book has fortified my love for Octavia E Butler, a collection of eight wondrous short stories and two incredible essays all with afterwords from Butler herself.The stories explore human relations with each other, with their environments and to those that are alien and unlike them All bursting with lurid imagination, the short stories examine human experience and the essays told in simple wise words, some that I d seen in quotes but found context and continuity to make a wonderful enriching experience The essays I d strongly recommend for those that are writers or artists or anyone really who does something that requires crafting and practice.A great book and I am glad to have found it. Speech Sounds In a dystopian setup, people lost their abilities to read, understand words, speak, hear, etc because of a disease Still, in such a dark, somber and depressing world, there is hope and humanity might still have the will to survive and to communicate with each other.It is one of those short stories with a weight beyond words loved it to pieces. I believed I was ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless I also thought that everyone would notice these faults if I drew attention to myself I wanted to disappear I hid out in a big pink notebook one that would hold a whole ream of paper I made myself a universe in it There I could be a magic horse, a Martian, a telepath There I could be anywhere but here, any time but now, with any people but these This anthology includes two essays, one of which is autobiographical I don t normally read biographies but I wanted to read every page in this book and I am very glad Ms Butler decided to include this little essay I get such a sense of her kindness, warmth, and generosity that I am surprised to learn she was a lonely child, if I had a friend like her I would have strived to make her my bestie But she does mention that she was very shy, but she did mature into a pillar of strength and an inspiration for many writers and readers This year s Hugo winner N.K Jemisin, a black female science fiction author, calls Butler her personal grandmaster and that left behind a lot of children, spiritually speaking.Young Octavia Bloodchild and Other Stories contains five mostly great short stories and a couple of excellent essays There is also an Afterward after each story where she briefly talks about the inspiration that led to the story When I read professional reviews of anthologies they do not generally go through each story one by one, I thought I would try to be professional for the sake of skill development, but then I thought, Nah I like doing it like this So here we go Blood ChildHer most famous story available to read free online , you can also download a PDF version if you Google for it It is something of a sci fi body horror story where humans in a colony on an alien planet have a long running bizarre symbiotic relationship with an alien race called the Tlic.It is a brilliant story, but also quite horrifying and gross, yet the underlying theme is love and sacrifice According to the Afterward, Butler was inspired by something that frightened her and she coped by making the idea benign in a gross sort of way , it is also a thought experiment on male pregnancy don t worry, I am not giving anything away because there is no male pregnancy as such in the storyT Gatoi liked the idea of choosing an infant and watching and taking part in all the phases of development I m told I was first caged within T Gatoi s many limbs only three minutes after my birth A few days later, I was given my first taste of egg The Evening and the Morning and the NightThen he began tearing at himself, through skin and bone, digging He had managed to reach his own heart before he died Oh my gawd Does that make you doubt the warm and fuzzy description of Ms Butler earlier in this review This story is about a disease called The Duryea Gode Disease caused by drugs taken by pregnant women which lead to a genetic flaw in their children that will cause them to lose their minds later in life How much later varies between individuals Initially, it reminds me of the berserker madness like 28 Days Later, but this is decidedly not a zombie apocalypse story There are no zombies and civilization is still fully operational The situation is analogous to the Thalidomide birth defects in the 60s On a deeper level, it is about how genetic diseases affect the sufferers lives and the value they put on their lives.Near of KinThis is a mainstream non SF F human drama story about the relationship or lack thereof between a girl and her now deceased mother, her closer relationship with her uncle and grandmother, the secret she always suspected about her mother, the mother s shame, and the regret of mutual rejection of each other until it is too late This kind of introspective melancholy story is not usually my cup of tea but if Ms Butler makes the tea I will happily have a few cups It is also very short and it is certainly not bad, Octavia Butler does not do bad I imagine her laundry list is also quite a good read I like her Afterward for this story than the story itself, she does not explain the nuances of the story leaving that to the reader but talks about what inspired itShe s dead, said my uncle flatly How much time and energy are you going to waste resenting her Speech SoundsThis is a post apocalypse and a dystopia story Civilization seems to be on its last legs here, the details are a little vague, some buses still run intermittently, but there is no law and order left The apocalypse is caused by a disease contracted by everybody that causes intellectual impairment , in the form of irreversible loss of literacy, speech or both It is amazing how Butler can write such a poignant post apocalypse short story I have always expected post apocalypse fiction to be epic in scope Again a wonderful Afterward follows the story, there is a slightly chatty tone in this one that makes me feel as if she was telling me of the anecdote that inspired the story How she felt mankind was hopeless when she started writing it and feels hopeful again when she finished Writing was potent therapy for her.CrossoverThis is another very short mainstream story, full of sadness, alienation, self loathing and passion It is, of course, well written but is a completely miserable story If it was not written by Butler I would have hated it Again it is about an outcast woman who does not fit in, but the anti heroine here is not the typical strong resourceful Butler protagonist, quite the opposite The Afterward to this story is great Apparently, Butler was scared of weirdos Positive ObsessionThis is an essay autobiography about Butler s obsession with writing as a child, the first story she sold, the numerous rejections that followed and the eventual success This is a beautiful autobiography, I don t normally read bios, and she did not enjoy writing it she prefers writing fiction In spite of all that she wrote something very special here that I will always remember I love how much she loves the sci fi genre and staunchly defends it, she is like an anti AtwoodAt college, I took classes taught by an elderly woman who wrote children s stories She was polite about the science fiction and fantasy that I kept handing in, but she finally asked in exasperation, Can t you write anything normal Furor ScribendiThis essay is basically advice for aspiring writers, it reminds me a little bit of Stephen King s On Writing, but much shorter obviously, and it has that charming Octavia touch Her drive and burning passion for writing are like a force of nature The essay ends with a one word paragraphPersist .AmnestyBack to science fiction The basic concept is similar to Blood Child, there is even some kind of symbiosis going on, yet the theme is very different Earth has been colonized, but not subjugated, by aliens They set up colonies in desserts, vast areas not used by humans Their technology is far superior and Earth s military forces can pose no threat to them When the aliens first arrived they captured, experimented on and unintentionally tortured human beings, but only because they had no knowledge of human physiology Once communication between the two species is established the aliens treat humans with respect due to sentient life forms Some humans go to work for them, helping with research, experiments, and whatnot One of the human leave the alien colony after living with them for years and is immediately arrested by the military and treated as a traitor, imprisoned and tortured.Ultimately this is a story of man s inhumanity to man even with full understanding of what causes pain and suffering some of us are still quite happy to inflict pain that we would not want to be inflicted on us In spite of her exasperation with the human race, Butler did love humanity and tried her best to help nudge it in the right direction.The Book of MarthaDon t you know what I see she demanded and then quickly softened her voice Don t you know everything God smiled No, I outgrew that trick long ago You can t imagine how boring it was This is a story about a woman who is tasked by God to make the world a better place in any way she can think of It is not a religious story and God is not portrayed entirely positively It is a story about the responsible application of power and possibly dire consequences from misuse A story to ponder.These are diverse stories the two essays notwithstanding they all have a moral center, depth and complexity However, if you read her essays you will know how she loves stories and storytelling, so her fiction is not a platform for preaching The themes of each story lend substance or meaning beyond the narrative, but I am sure she would be just as happy if you just read them as stories This wonderful anthology is up there with Ted Chiang s classic Stories of Your Life and Others The Afterward after each story is very much appreciated She never over explains any of the preceding stories but gives some insight into her inspiration and thought processes Read this for a thrilling, moving, thought provoking experience Notes Here is an excerpt from Ms Butler s notebook When you read top part it may seem like she was simply chasing fame and fortune, but by the end of the page you will get her humanity and compassion, and why she is such an inspiration and a great role model.Another noteworthy uh note. Octavia Butler hit me with the humanity and relatability I didn t know I was seeking in the often cool and clinical world of science fiction This was my first Butler book and, as it turns out, I adore the writer as much as I adore the writing Who couldn t fall for someone who sets out to write a pregnant man story Bloodchild , and gets real about that day she was so disgusted with humans and our inability to communicate with each other that she had to tell a grim tale about the end of communication through words Speech Sounds For this reason, please don t pass over the afterwords following each story or the two essays at the end Butler was one of the greats I can t wait to read Kindred S Zainab Williamsfrom The Best Books We Read In June