Science Fiction

Who was the first black American woman to publish science fiction?

In 1976 Octavia Butler (1947–2006) became the first black woman science-fiction writer to be published. Butler was born in Pasadena, California, and grew up in a racially integrated community. She suffered from unrecognized dyslexia, the consequence of which at first led to poor performance in school. However, her problem never interfered with the fantasy stories and romances that she wrote when she was ten and eleven years old. After graduating from high school, Butler worked during the day and enrolled in fiction writing courses at Pasadena City College at night. After completing the two-year program, she studied for a while at California State College. By now seriously interested in writing, she enrolled in writing courses at the University of California at Los Angeles, attended writing workshops that the Writers Guild of America West sponsored, and participated in the Clarion Writers Workshop in Clarion, Pennsylvania. Butler has published a number of short stories, several of which were award winning. She also wrote a number of science-fiction novels, most falling within a series. Her most successful stand-alone novel is Kindred (1988), which she called “grim fantasy” and not science fiction, for there is no science in it.


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