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Kindred (Bluestreak) [Kindle Edition]

Octavia Butler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Kindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question "how could anybody be a slave?" A woman from the twentieth century, Dana is repeatedly brought back in time by her slave-owning ancestor Rufus when his life is endangered. She chooses to save him, knowing that because of her actions a free-born black woman will eventually become his slave and her own grandmother. When forced to live the life of a slave, Dana realizes she is not as strong as her ancestors. Unable to will herself back to her own time and unable to tolerate the institution of slavery, she attempts to run away and is caught within a few hours. Her illiterate ancestor Alice succeeds in eluding capture for four days even though "She knew only the area she'd been born and raised in, and she couldn't read a map." Alice is captured, beaten, and sold as a slave to Rufus. As Dana is sent back and forth through time, she continues to save Rufus's life, attempting during each visit to care for Alice, even as she is encouraging Alice to allow Rufus to rape her and thus ensure Dana's own birth. As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, "See how easily slaves are made?" For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life, and nurture victimization is to choose to survive. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Donna Nichols-White

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler is author of many novels, including Adulthood Rites and The Parable of the Sower. She is the winner of the Nebula Award and twice winner of the Hugo Award.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1761 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0807083690
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 25th Anniversary edition (February 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001T4Z82Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,443 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
200 of 210 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING August 31, 2004
Format:Paperback
Book Review by C. Douglas Baker

KINDRED is one of those rare novels that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let you go until the very end. From the first sentence, Butler's simple, straightforward prose moves the story quickly making it nearly impossible for the reader to put down.

Dana, a black woman living in Los Angeles in 1976, is inexplicably transported to 1815 to save the life of a small, red-haired boy on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It turns out this small boy, Rufus, is one of her white slave owning ancestors, who she knows very little about. Dana continues to be called into the past to save Rufus, and frequently stays long periods of time in the slave owning South. The only way she can get back to 1976 is to be in a life threatening situation. During her stays in the past she is forced to assume the role of a slave to survive. She is whipped. She is beaten. She is nearly raped, twice. She is forced to watch whippings and families being broken up. She learns to enjoy hard work as an escape from the other horrors of slave life. And she watches as a fairly unassuming small son of a plantation owner grows up to be a cruel, capricious, hot-tempered slave owner in his own right. And to be her great-grandfather many generations removed.

KINDRED is about slavery and the scars it has inflicted on American society. There are really three key factors Butler focuses on that reveal the ability of the South to institutionalize slavery. First there is the physical abuse. The constant work, especially the physically exhausting work of a field hand, kept slaves too tired to run or become insolent. Being ever on the verge of a lash or two for minor offenses kept slaves working to avoid punishment.
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90 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Note on the Passing of Ms. Butler February 27, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I heard today of the weekend passing of Octavia Butler. She is is in the "Hall of Fame" as an alumna of John Muir High School, Pasadena, which all four of my children attended.

"Kindred" was, for many years, required reading at Muir. It was through this connection that I was introduced to her writing by my daughter. She is my youngest son's favorite author, a tribute to her ability to transcend gender, race, and age in presenting ideas that no one else could ever have imagined. We were looking forward to meeting her as part of Pasadena's "One City, One Story" program which had chosen "Kindred" as this year's selection.

Butler was certainly not a "black author" in any limiting sense at all. She blasted open the SciFi gates of gender and color with her extraordinary vision, imagination, and courage. The choice of "Kindred" is a fitting tribute to the diversity of her hometowns of Pasadena and Altadena and the Pasadena Unifed School District in which she was educated.

It is rare that a passing of someone I have not personally met so saddens me. She is in a world without limits now.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Octavia Butler's "Kindred" is a novel which fits into many literary niches. It could be seen as a milestone in both African-American literature and science fiction; it's also a novel with a lot for feminist readers and critics. But ultimately the power of this book allows it to transcend all labels.
"Kindred" tells the story of Dana, a 20th century African-American woman who is married to a white man. Throughout the book Dana is mysteriously thrust back and forth in time between her world and the world of her ancestors in the 19th century. She seems to be tied to one ancestor in particular: Rufus, the white son of a slaveowning family. Part of Dana's struggle is to deal with the utterly alien world of Rufus' slaveowning culture.
Butler brilliantly weaves many powerful themes into this gripping story: violence, sexual desire, race, literacy, language, law, and education. The story is peopled with well-developed characters who have complex, interconnected relationships. Butler vividly evokes how the slave system both physically brutalized blacks and psychologically warped whites.
Butler's prose is lean and muscular. She grips you from the stark opening lines: "I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm." The story is richly ironic and heartbreaking. "Kindred" is a compelling 20th century literary descendant of such important 19th century slave autobiographies as "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and Harriet Jacobs' "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"; it is also a significant "sister" text to 20th century works (like Toni Morrison's "Beloved") which also revisit the era of slavery. But Butler's ingenious use of a classic science fiction device (i.e. time travel) sets the book apart from all of these other literary explorations of slavery. Whether for classrooms, book reading circles, or individual readers, "Kindred" is a triumph to be treasured.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A blending of two genres. June 22, 2008
Format:Paperback
Ms. Butler combines the slave narrative with conventions of science fiction in this novel. Dana is a black woman living in the late 1970's with her white husband Kevin. She is transported back in time to the 1800's in order to save the life of her white, slaveholder ancestor. Once, Kevin is transported with her. She spends quite a bit of time in this period and is treated as a slave. Her 20th century upbringing and sensibilities quail at this and she tries to affect some change, at times with disastrous results. She is forever changed, both physically and mentally by this experience.
While I am quite used to stories of time travel, the slave narrative is new to me. This book was loaned to me by my African American co-worker when she found out I liked science fiction. I would imagine this book reads more like a slave narrative than science fiction, as the time travel is just a device to place the protagonist in this setting. Her experiences are heartbreaking, and remind us that it wasn't too terribly long ago that people of African decent were treated as less than human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindred
l found it interesting the way the author used present day and days of slavery to tell her story. The way she kept switching between the periods certainly kept me reading to the... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Marilyn
5.0 out of 5 stars History and Sci/Fi at its best!
Kindred is one of those books that I reach for when I want to sink my teeth into something really satisfying. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Peaches
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea
Kindred was a readable development of an interesting concept. Some events were not very connected to the story, such as the beginning and the end.
Published 6 days ago by Valerie Hartwell
3.0 out of 5 stars required for school
Not a book I would typically read but it was required for school so had to buy it I will have to say that it was predictable. Read more
Published 11 days ago by frez
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise
I was not expecting this to be a science fiction novel. I simply thought this would be more of a historical fiction focusing on slavery. Read more
Published 18 days ago by SashaD
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this book down.
So many time travel books are "syfy" but this one seemed to take a realistic approach to the history of antebellum days in America. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Carolyn Rockwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Octavia Butler is my science fiction hero!!
This is the first book I read by Ms. Butler. I was blown away. It is not predictable. It is interesting and thought-provoking. Read more
Published 21 days ago by M. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful,surprising and thought-provoking
What a powerful book and disconcerting perspective. A great story very well told. I read it two years ago and still think of it often
Published 22 days ago by Deborah Sheperis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
Great book my book club loved it. It kept my interest from beginning to end. I would highly recommend it.
Published 22 days ago by audrie27
3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat interesting
The premiss is well thought out although sometimes is overly detailed...pages and page of small details. But im glad I read it
Published 25 days ago by deedra
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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.

AWARDS

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


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