Tomorrow (June 22nd) would have been Octavia Butler’s 74th birthday, and the Carl Brandon Society has lined up a virtual event to commemorate the life of the visionary author.
The Earthseed Celebration will be hosted by Nisi Shawl, and features a big list of authors who will be reading from Butler’s “The Book of the Living,” which figured heavily into her books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. You can watch the livestream here tomorrow at 9pm ET / 6pm PT. After it is complete, it will remain up on YouTube.
The book is the central text in Butler’s Earthseed religion, which was created by Lauren Oya Olamina, who has a condition known as hyperempathy: she can share the pain of others that she sees. As she escapes from her home after an attack, she sets out to find a new one, bringing people together to build a new community.
Along the way, she begins to build this theological system. Butler scatters quotes and sections from the book throughout both Sower and Talents, the central tenant being “God is change,” which Lauren uses as a way to bring about lasting change to a ruined Earth and beyond.
The Society has a huge list of authors lined up to read from the text:
- Jenn Brissett (Elysium, Destroyer of Light)
- Andrea Hairston (Redwood and Wildfire, Master of Poisons)
- Talitha McEachin
- Tochi Onyebuchi (Riot Baby, (S)kinfolk)
- Ayana Jamieson (Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network)
- Gerry Canavan (The Cambridge History of Science Fiction)
- Sheree Renée Thomas (Nine Bar Blues, Dark Matter)
- Michi Trota (SFWA Editor-in-chief, Senior Editor Prism Magazine)
- Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell (ONYX Pages Booktube Channel)
- Rebecca Holden (Strange Matings)
- Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Son of the Storm, David Mogo, Godhunter)
- Ajit George (Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft)
- Nalo Hopkinson 2021 SFWA Grand Master (House of Whispers, The New Moons Arms)
- Ben Winters (Underground Airlines, The Quiet Boy)
- Shelley Streeby (Imagining the Future of Climate Change)
- Kathleen Alcala (Spirits of the Ordinary)
- Caren Gussoff (The Birthday Problem)
- Grace Dillon (Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction)
- Steven Barnes (Twelve Days, Lion’s Blood)
The Carl Brandon Society isn’t the only one celebrating Butler’s life and works: the Los Angeles Public Library has been holding a series of events all month, and there are two coming up this week—an event featuring A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky author Lynell George (June 25th, 4PM-5PM PT) and an interview with creators of the Parable of the Sower graphic novel (June 26th, 4PM-5PM PT).