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.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
Celebrate Cyber Monday with some brain food. Save on any eLearning deal in the Boing Boing Store today using coupon code: CYBERMONDAY25. Below are a couple of our favorite eLearning offers: eduCBA Tech Training Bundle: Lifetime Subscription:Welcome to your personal online classroom, where you can finally study at your own pace, on your own time (and […]
This minimalist multi-tool will see to it that instead of rocking a tool belt, you’ll carry just one. It’s shaped slightly like a key and weighs less than an ounce, so it plays nice with your keychain. The strong surgical-grade stainless steel blade will last, and is handy for everyday tasks like opening boxes and […]
The Code Black is our top-selling drone of all time—and for good reason. This powerful, palm-size drone is not only insanely fun to fly, but can capture some serious video footage from up above. With a flight time of about 10 minutes and an ultra-smooth ride, it’s a great introductory drone for anyone looking to […]