Octavia E. Butler is an African-American who is one of America's leading science fiction writers.
Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California, and has lived in the Los Angeles area all her life. She has been writing stories since she was a child. At the age of ten she knew she wanted to be a writer and when she was a teenager she submitted science fiction stories to magazines.
Butler attended Pasadena City College, California State University at Los Angeles, and the University of California at Los Angeles. After her studies she worked in various office and factory jobs while continuing to write in her spare time. In 1970, she attended the Clarion Science Fiction workshop, and this proved to be a milestone in her career, since it resulted in the publication of her first short story, "Crossover," in an anthology. Six years later, in 1976, her first novel, Patternmaster, was published by Doubleday. It became the first in a series of Patternist novels that included Mind of My Mind (1977), Survivor (1978), and Wild Seed (1980) and Clay's Ark (1984). She also wrote the novel Kindred (1979), which featured a black woman traveling back in time to a plantation in the South.
In 1984, Butler won the Hugo Award for her short story "Speech Sounds," which is set in Los Angeles in the future. The following year, she won three major science fiction awards, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award, for her novella Bloodchild, which was also published as Bloodchild and Other Stories in 1995.
With her reputation growing rapidly, Butler set to work on a new science fiction series, the Xenogenesis trilogy, consisting of Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989).
Parable of the Sower (1993) was a Nebula Award finalist, and was also selected by the New York Times as one of the notable books of the year. It is often considered to be Butler's finest novel.
In 1995, Butler was awarded a $295,000 MacArthur Foundation fellowship, often known as the "genius award." She published Parable of the Talents, a sequel to Parable of the Sower, in 1998.
Butler once described herself as "comfortably asocial-a hermit in the middle of Los Angeles-a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive."