So we’re in the middle of an Octavia Butler roundtable, I thought it’d be fun (maybe) for people to talk about which of her works are their favorites and which are their least favorites.

My favorite book of hers is Dawn, from her Xenogenesis series (which I’ve written about here among other places.) I just love the way it presents a standard aliens-as-colonizers narrative in such a way that the colonizers are both repulsive and sympathetic. The flatness of her prose here feels like it both conceals and accentuates the complexity of what she’s doing with empathy. It’s an interesting comparison with Gwyneth Jones, who touches on many of the same themes and ideas in a more knowing, ironized, and deliberately academic way. I love Jones, but there’s a lot to be said for Butler’s approach too, which presents everything almost transparently; it feels almost like a YA novel about growing up to be a tentacled sex monstrosity.

As for my least favorite….I read “Wild Seed” a long while back, but I found its presentation of gender difference (male, bad! female good!) to be pretty irritating. I just read Butler’s short story collection “Bloodchild”; the last story, “Martha”, in which a black female sci-fi writer is asked by God to save the world through vivid dreaming seemed both overly cute and nakedly self-aggrandizing.

For the rest of her books I’ve read, I quite like Kindred, didn’t like Fledgling much, and I think that’s all I’ve read.

So what about you all? What’s your favorite and least favorite Butler?

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