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Ready to Go Off

Jenny Turner, 18 February 2021

A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler 
by Lynell George.
Angel City, 176 pp., $30, November 2020, 978 1 62640 063 4
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‘Kindred’, Fledgling’, Collected Stories’ 
by Octavia E. Butler, edited by Gerry Canavan and Nisi Shawl.
Library of America, 790 pp., $31.50, January 2021, 978 1 59853 675 1
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... while the world outside it continues to go to hell. Lauren Oya Olamina, the visionary heroine of Octavia Butler’s Parable books, lived until she was 18 in a gated neighbourhood in Robledo, southern California, with her clever father, a Baptist preacher, and resourceful stepmother, who kept a garden with peppers, tomatoes, squashes, carrots, lettuce ...

California Noir

Michael Rogin: Destroying Los Angeles, 19 August 1999

Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster 
by Mike Davis.
Picador, 484 pp., £18.99, June 1999, 9780330372190
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... of a future Los Angeles’ on the ‘disciplined extrapolation’ of the science-fiction writer Octavia Butler. Just as the magical dystopian ‘substitutes space for time and phantasmagoric topographies for linear narrative’, so the final chapter of Ecology of Fear juxtaposes on facing pages ‘the most famous diagram in social science’, the map ...


Niela Orr, 3 December 2020

Such a Fun Age 
by Kiley Reid.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £12.99, January, 978 1 5266 1214 4
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... Washington Square West, Philadelphia. Washington Square West overlaps an area identified by W.E.B. Du Bois in The Philadelphia Negro as the Seventh Ward, the site of many places famous in Black history: Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church; the Institute for Coloured Youth; the home of Frances E.W. Harper, one of the first Black ...

Slimed It

Francis Gooding: On N.K. Jemisin, 30 November 2023

The World We Make 
by N.K. Jemisin.
Orbit, 384 pp., £9.99, October, 978 0 356 51272 3
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... been overwhelmingly white and male, and the eminence of such Black writers as Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler notwithstanding, it hasn’t always been welcoming to minorities. ‘As a Black woman drawn to science fiction and fantasy,’ Jemisin has said about the early stages of her career, ‘I had almost no chance of getting my work ...

My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

... by Samuel Delany’s Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand, by Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, by Octavia Butler and Afrofuturism, by Sterling and cyberpunk, by Kim Stanley Robinson and so many others. He lived long enough that he could have seen how Carter Scholz, in Radiance, marries a Lemian satire of Cold War militaristic capitalism to the ...

Nothing Natural

Jenny Turner: SurrogacyTM, 23 January 2020

Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism against Family 
by Sophie Lewis.
Verso, 216 pp., £14.99, May 2019, 978 1 78663 729 1
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Making Kin Not Population 
edited by Adele Clarke and Donna Haraway.
Prickly Paradigm, 120 pp., £10, July 2018, 978 0 9966355 6 1
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... a body modification technology,’ as Lewis puts it, in the footsteps of Gayle Rubin and Judith Butler: the home, the wedding ring, even the binary sexuation, are only there by convention, honoured – or not – by time. ‘Natural’ childbirth, with pools and music and aromatic midwives, is ‘a regimen full of carefully stylised gestational labour hacks ...

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