Octavia Estelle Butler, 1947-2006
adaptability and persistent,
positive obsession. Without
persistence, what remains is an
enthusiasm of the moment. Without
adaptability, what remains may
be channeled into destructive
fanaticism. Without positive
obsession, there is nothing at all."
Octavia Butler died yesterday of head injuries she sustained in a fall outside her home. She was only 58, but in her short time, she changed the landscape of speculative fiction for the better, realizing its potential for exploring new realities in a way that honored diversity, depth, and complexity.
The verse I quoted above is one she created for her character Lauren Oya Olamina, the heroine of Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, my favorite of Butler's works. Like Olamina, Butler was a visionary, a leader, and a strong woman in body, mind, and heart.
Our world will be as much poorer for the loss of her active, "positive obsession" as it was made richer by it.
Photo credit: Joshua Trujillo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer