Somehow she knew this time would come. The smoke-choked air from fire gone wild, the cresting rivers and rising seas, the sweltering heat and receding lakes, the melting away of civil society and political stability, the light-year leaps in artificial intelligence—Octavia Butler foresaw them all.
Butler was not a climate scientist, a political pundit, or a Silicon Valley technologist. The author of imaginative and often disturbing speculative fiction such as Parable of the Sower (1993), she was a Black woman descended from enslaved people in Louisiana, raised by a strictly religious mother in Los Angeles, educated at community and regional colleges, and besieged by feelings of professional marginalization for most of her too-short life. Out of these challenging circumstances (which included watching her grandparents’ chicken farm burn to the ground), and through the noise of late-20th-century America, Butler heard a clear signal: The future would not be like the present; it would, instead, be a techno-juiced doppelgänger of the past.By Tiya Miles
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