Octavia Butler's first book in seven years is the new vampire novel Fledgling, and it was worth the wait. Butler built her reputation by writing fantastic adventure novels that contained subtle, considered and complicated stories about race politics (Butler is one of a sadly small number of African-American writers in science fiction). Fledgling isn't science fiction, exactly -- it's a vampire novel with some of the trappings of sf.
Fledgling's heroine is a young vampire who awakes, amnesiac and badly mutilated, in a cave. She soon encounters the smoking wreck of a village, and then a young man, whom she bites and then beds. The sexual politics of this are really creepy, since she appears to be an eleven-year-old girl (she is much older, but vampires age more slowly than humans).
What proceeds is a darkly erotic story of the family and race crisis that led to the extermination of her clan and her near-fatal injuries. On the way, Butler masterfully handles the moral dimension of feeding from, and becoming symbiotic with human (fans of Butler's story Bloodchild will recognize the symbiosis theme here), all the while never neglecting to tell a fast-moving, action-oriented story that had me turning pages well past my bedtime. I even stood on a freezing subway platform and finished a chapter before putting the book away and heading out.
Butler's novels earned her the MacArthur "genius" award, and it was well-deserved. Few writers in our field are so good at blending potato-chip page-turners with nutritious philosophical questions so seamlessly. Fledgling stands with Parable of the Sower and other classic Butler novels as a book that will provoke strong emotions and deep thoughts.
Update: Eric sez, "Octavia Butler was on Democracy Now in November talking about Fledgling, the Parables series, her life and politics.
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey
It’s time for a power upgrade — throw out that tired-out power strip and swap in this family-size USB charger, packed with 6 high-speed ports. With a built-in control chip, Kinkoo optimizes each port to ensure the fastest charging possible for all your devices. The Kinkoo is made from high-grade and durable materials so you […]
Watching Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services can unfortunately be difficult while traveling outside the US. Rather than bypass these restrictions with the help of a complex and slow VPN, choose a faster and simpler solution with Getflix. Instead of rerouting all your Internet traffic through a different server, this handy service only routes the […]
Shake, stir, and muddle your way to delicious homemade cocktails with this must-have bar set. Expect only the finest quality tools from MakersKit — enabling you to unleash your inner mixologist.Top 12 Favorite Things of 2014, Sunset MagazineQuart-size vintage-style Mason jar shakerRetro double jigger for accurate measurementsStrainer & spouts for a mixologist-style smooth pourHardwood muddler […]