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Bloodchild and Other Stories Paperback – October 4, 2005

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About the Author

A writer who darkly imagined the future we have destined for ourselves in book after book, and also one who has shown us the way toward improving on that dismal fate, OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (1947–2006) is recognized as among the bravest and smartest of contemporary fiction writers. A 1995 MacArthur Award winner, Butler transcended the science fiction category even as she was awarded that community’s top prizes, the Nebula and Hugo Awards. She reached readers of all ages, all races, and all religious and sexual persuasions. For years the only African-American woman writing science fiction, Butler has encouraged many others to follow in her path.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 2 edition (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583226982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583226988
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Octavia Estelle Butler, often referred to as the "grand dame of science fiction," was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena Community College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. During 1969 and 1970, she studied at the Screenwriter's Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop, where she took a class with science fiction master Harlan Ellison (who later became her mentor), and which led to Butler selling her first science fiction stories.

Butler's first story, "Crossover," was published in the 1971 Clarion anthology. Patternmaster, her first novel and the first title of her five-volume Patternist series, was published in 1976, followed by Mind of My Mind in 1977. Others in the series include Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), which won the James Tiptree Award, and Clay's Ark (1984).

With the publication of Kindred in 1979, Butler was able to support herself writing full time. She won the Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story, "Speech Sounds," and in 1985, Butler's novelette "Bloodchild" won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and an award for best novelette from Science Fiction Chronicle.

Other books by Octavia E. Butler include the Xenogenesis trilogy: Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989), and a short story collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995). Parable of the Sower (1993), the first of her Earthseed series, was a finalist for the Nebula Award as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The book's sequel, Parable of the Talents (1998), won a Nebula Award.

In 1995 Butler was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship.


1980, Creative Arts Award, L.A. YWCA
1984, Hugo Award for Best Short Story - Speech Sounds
1984, Nebula Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Science Fiction Chronicle Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Locus Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Hugo Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1995, MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant
1999, Nebula Award for Best Novel - Parable of the Talents
2000, PEN American Center lifetime achievement award in writing
2010, Inductee Science Fiction Hall of Fame
2012, Solstice Award, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ReadingWhileFemale on July 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bloodchild is a collection of short stories by the famous science-fiction writer Octavia Butler. The problem with 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 more subtle, but are still incredibly well-written.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on March 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Besides her exceptional novels, Octavia Butler has published a collection of her short fiction entitled Bloodchild and Other Stories. The opening story in the collection is her Hugo and Nebula award winning story, the title story, "Bloodchild". This is what she has called her "male pregnancy story" and it features an Earth which has been taken over by some sort of alien creatures who form symbiotic relationships with humans, but who also use humans to breed their young and usually males because impregnating females means fewer humans will be born which means fewer young of their own kind. It was an interesting story.

My favorite of the collection, however, is her Hugo winning story "Speech Sounds". Some sort of cataclysm has hit our planet, one which has robbed humanity of the ability to speak and in some cases regressed the mental development of humanity to a more base level. Set in Los Angeles, "Speech Sounds" shows the loss of communication and what that does to society and we see it through the eyes of one woman who was on a bus when an incident occurred.

"The Evening and the Morning of the Night" is a story which sticks with the reader, though with me it was for the wrong reason I believe. This story features a hereditary disease which causes some people to lose their mind and try to dig their way out of their own skin and it is that image of people trying to do that to themselves that sickened me a bit, even though all that action occurred off camera, if you will. Interesting as a concept and well written, it is also one I would rather forget.

"Near of Kin" is Butler's one non-science fiction story and it is a story about family and perceived family. Quite good, but it would belong more in another collection than in a genre collection like this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on June 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 2005 expanded edition of Butler's only collection of short fiction contains the original five stories and two essays, plus two additional stories published in 2003. Each story is remarkable for its succinct, raw power, and the collection, while slight, is impressive for its variety. There's more going on here in seven stories than many more prolific writers offer in a lifetime. Two of the earlier stories are not science fiction; one is a "sympathetic [that is, non-judgmental] story of incest" inspired by various biblical examples; the other is a story about a working woman "turning to alcohol." And Butler wrote an afterword for each selection, explaining its inspiration, meaning, and place in her oeuvre. In one of the two essays, she recalls how an exasperated writing teacher asked her, "Can't you write anything normal?" The answer, happily, is no.

Although the most famous piece is "Bloodchild" (Butler's "pregnant man story"), for my money the gem of the book is "Speech Sounds," about a woman who has mysteriously retained her functions of speech after a deadly disease has robbed nearly all the surviving population of the ability to communicate. (The basic set-up reminds me a little of Saramago's "Blindness," which was of course written much later.) The mute survivors attack the healthy for their "superiority" and so even those who can speak are forced to be silent and armed. The woman struggles to survive in the anarchic violence of a world "where the only likely common language was body language."

The final selection, "The Book of Martha" (one of the stories written in 2003), also shows why, five years after her death, Butler continues to be regarded as one of the best of science fiction writers.
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