Octavia Butler: 'Xenogenesis' / 'Lilith's Brood'
Author: Lennard, John
ISBN 978-1-84760-036-3 97 pages, three illustrations, external hyperlinks; file size 1.29 mb Licence: one printing allowed, copying disabled
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Octavia Butler's premature and sudden death in 2006 has been very widely lamented, unhappily confirming her influence as a vital African-American and female pioneer in SF. Xenogenesis (retitled Lilith's Brood in 2000) is one of Butler's most important works, and comprises the novels Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989).
The Notes cover Octavia Butler's life and work; the background and structure of the trilogy; (Black) SF in relation to race and gender; the tradition of dystopias; and the work in genetics that is central to the plot. The Annotations pay special attention to the feminist and racial critique of human behaviour, and to the scientific and religious themes that develop throughout the trilogy. Each of the three novels is dealt with book-by-book and chapter-by-chapter. The Essay, called “˜The Strange Determination of Octavia Butler”, considers the trilogy's two very different umbrella-titles and Butler's unusual use of genetic science, especially the discovery of mitochondrial DNA, to critique racial essentialism. It also argues for her use of cellular organelles as an metaphor for the African Diaspora driven by slavery. The Bibliography provides a complete listing of works by Octavia Butler, including short stories and work published on-line. It also has sections detailing works about “˜Octavia Butler and SF” and “˜Useful Reference Works”.
About the author
John Lennard took his B.A. and D.Phil. at Oxford University, and his M.A. at Washington University in St Louis. He has taught in the Universities of London, Cambridge, and Notre Dame, and for the Open University, and as Professor of British & American Literature at the University of the West Indies—Mona. He now teaches in Cambridge. His publications include But I Digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse (Clarendon Press, 1991), The Poetry Handbook (1996; 2/e, OUP, 2005), with Mary Luckhurst The Drama Handbook (OUP, 2002), and the Literature Insights Hamlet (2007). He is the general editor of the Genre Fiction Sightlines and Genre Fiction Monographs series, and has written several Sightlines titles, and two critical collections, Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (2007); Of Sex and Faerie: Further Essays on Genre Fiction.
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