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Publisher Description

Since the publication of her first novel, Octavia Butler's popularity has increased, making her now a staple for individuals attracted to the fiction of Afro-futurism. Sandra Govan argues that Butler "forge[s] a black presence in science fiction," a presence that consistently challenges assumptions regarding inter-group and intra-group relations (87). Butler's Patternist series of novels focuses on the tensions between groups with psychic abilities and those without, and her Xenogenesis trilogy explores the ramifications of blending humans with an alien race. Much of Butler's success among African Americans surely rests on the connections readers make between the themes of these novels and their experiences in a race-conscious society. Changes in American society, particularly the dynamic between ethnic groups, prompt a reexamination of Butler's early fiction. Survivor (1978) anticipates the challenges contemporary blacks face in an increasingly diverse society. Butler uses Alanna, an Afro-Asian protagonist, to illuminate strategies of negotiation for African Americans who engage a variety of ethnic groups. During the late 1970s, African Americans became increasingly aware of other ethnic groups, particularly Asians. This time period witnesses a mode of civil rights that acknowledges the parallel struggle of American blacks and Asian groups, especially in radical political circles. Bill Mullen reminds us that "beginning with the 1955 meeting of decolonizing African and Asian nations in Bandung, Indonesia, until at least the early 1970s, African American and Asian radicals imagined themselves as antipodal partners in cultural revolution, pen pals for world liberation" (76). Asian cultures so interpenetrated African American cultural movements in the 1970s, Robin Kelley declares, "although the Black Arts Movement was the primary vehicle for black cultural revolution in the United States, it is hard to imagine what that revolution would have looked like without China" (107). Butler's early foray into fiction demonstrates its awareness of similar Afro-Asian dynamics by meditating on racial dynamics contrary to the traditional black-white racial paradigm.

Professional & Technical
March 22
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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