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Kindred (Bluestreak) Paperback – February 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Bluestreak
  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 25th Anniversary edition (February 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807083690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807083697
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (458 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Octavia Butler is a writer who will be with us for a long, long time, and Kindred is that rare magical artifact . . . the novel one returns to, again and again.—Harlan Ellison

"One cannot finish Kindred without feeling changed. It is a shattering work of art with much to say about love, hate, slavery, and racial dilemmas, then and now." —Sam Frank, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

"In Kindred, Octavia Butler creates a road for the impossible and a balm for the unbearable. It is everything the literature of science fiction can be." —Walter Mosley

"Truly terrifying . . . A book you'll find hard to put down."—Essence

"Butler's books are exceptional . . . She is a realist, writing the most detailed social criticism and creating some of the most fascinating female characters in the genre . . . real women caught in impossible situations."—Dorothy Allison, Village Voice

"Butler's literary craftsmanship is superb."—Washington Post Book World

"One of the most original, thought-provoking works examining race and identity."—Lynell George, Los Angeles Times

This powerful novel about a modern black woman transported back in time to a slave plantation in the antebellum South is the perfect introduction to Butler's work and perspectives for those not usually enamored of science fiction. . .A harrowing, haunting story." —John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"No other work of fantasy or science fiction writings brings the intimate environment of the antebellum South to life better than Octavia E. Butler's Kindred." —Kevin Weston, San Francisco Chronicle

"A celebrated mainstay of college courses in women's studies and black literature and culture; some colleges require it as mandatory freshman reading." —Linell Smith, The Baltimore Sun

"Kindred is as much a novel of psychological horror as it is a novel of science fiction. . .a work of art whose individual accomplishment defies categorization." —Barbara Strickland, The Austin Chronicle

"A startling and engrossing commentary on the complex actuality and continuing heritage of American slavery." —Sherley Anne Williams, Ms.

"Her books are disturbing, unsettling… In a field dominated by white male authors, Butler's African-American feminist perspective is unique, and uniquely suited to reshape the boundaries of the sci-fi genre." —Bill Glass, L. A. Style

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was the author of many novels, including Dawn, Wild Seed, andParable of the Sower. She was the recipient of a MacArthur Award and a Nebula Award, and she twice won the Hugo Award.

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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

207 of 217 people found the following review helpful By C. Baker VINE VOICE on 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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93 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Laura B. Monteros on 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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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on July 24, 2002
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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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on September 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I agree with many of the comments made in the other readers' reviews of "Kindred," and overall I would strongly recommend this book. If nothing else, "Kindred" gives you a better feel for slavery, and more of an understanding of what African-Americans have gone through in this country.
HOWEVER... I believe that there is a glaring ethical problem in "Kindred" which seriously weakens the book as a work of fictional literature. I realized the magnitude of this ethical problem largely thanks to a conversation with an African-American colleague of mine (I'm a white male), who is a great admirer of Octavia Butler's writing and who I accompanied to a speech and booksigning by Ms. Butler held at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. To state the ethical problem as succinctly and clearly as I can: How can Dana make the decision to keep a complex, but ultimately disgusting, repulsive human being like Rufus alive solely in order to ensure that she (Dana) will eventually be born, when that dooms another human being (Alice) to a horrible life (and eventual suicide) as Rufus' sex slave?
To me, and to my African-American colleague, the obvious (albeit extremely difficult and courageous) ethical choice would for Dana to let Rufus die, even if it meant sacrificing her own future existence, in an attempt to prevent another human being's (in this case Alice's) terrible suffering. By this reasoning, the fact that Dana allows Rufus to live and hence Alice to suffer so horribly in order that Dana might be born years later, is both a horribly selfish and ultimately a totally unethical decision.
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