LA Celebrates Science Fiction Legend Octavia E. Butler With a Year of Events

Illustration for article titled LA Celebrates Science Fiction Legend Octavia E. Butler With a Year of Events

Octavia E. Butler died 10 years ago, but the power of her work and her inspiring life story haven’t dimmed one bit. Los Angeles arts nonprofit Clockshop has organized a yearlong series honoring the Pasadena native, “Radio Imagination,” with works created by artists and writers given full access to Butler’s archives.


Here’s the scoop from the official press release:

Radio Imagination celebrates the life and work of Pasadena science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006). Organized by Clockshop, the program centers on ten contemporary art and literary commissions that explore Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library. New work will premiere alongside performances, film screenings, and literary events throughout the year.

Recognition of Butler’s influence across artistic disciplines and her contribution to the Los Angeles cultural landscape is long overdue. Radio Imagination will bridge Butler’s groundbreaking fiction with contemporary conversations about the future of Los Angeles. The series will span 2016, the tenth anniversary of the writer’s death.

Radio Imagination artists and writers will conduct first-hand research in Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library and create new work based on their research. New poetry and creative nonfiction by Tisa Bryant, Lynell George, Robin Coste Lewis, and Fred Moten will premiere at a public reading event. New contemporary artworks byLaylah Ali, Courtesy the Artists (Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade), Mendi + Keith Obadike, Connie Samaras, and Cauleen Smith will be presented at an exhibition at Armory Center for the Arts (October 1, 2016–January 7, 2017).

The archives include short stories the future Hugo and Nebula award winner (and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient) wrote when she was just 12 years old, as well as a collection of her favorite quotes. The program’s title comes from Butler’s own observation that “I have the kind of imagination that hears. I think of it as radio imagination.”

Events begin with a kick-off party on February 27, and you can check out a full calendar right here.

Top image: Released under the Creative Commons “Attribution Share-Alike” 2.5 License by Nikolas Coukouma.




Wow, 10 years. Well, I guess it’s time to read the two Parable books—I’d held off reading them because once I read them I’ll have no more Octavia Butlers left to anticipate. I think I may have read all of her stories, but maybe there are a couple of ones lurking around that didn’t make it into anthologies.

I’m glad Butler’s still being talked about and celebrated, though. For a while I felt I was part of a rather small, but serious fandom—me and llaalleell on io9, but then there started to be a bit more traction.