Octavia Butler dies

The groundbreaking science fiction writer was 58.

Published February 27, 2006 8:07PM (EST)

Octavia Butler, author of "Kindred," "Patternmaster," "Parable of the Sower" and eight other science fiction novels, died on Friday afternoon after falling on the street and hitting her head near her Seattle home, according to the Associated Press.

Butler, 58, was known as the first black woman to gain success in the science fiction genre. Her books, with plots about time travel and young female vampires, also covered issues like slavery, the environment and religion; and the Washington Post called her "one of the finest voices in fiction period. A master storyteller who casts an unflinching eye on racism, sexism, poverty and ignorance and lets the reader see the terror and beauty of human nature."

Five years ago, Butler wrote: "I'm a 53-year-old writer who can remember being a 10-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an 80-year-old writer. I'm also comfortably asocial -- a hermit in the middle of Seattle -- a pessimist if I'm not careful, a feminist, a Black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive."

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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