Unexpected Stories

Octavia E. Butler. Open Road (www.openroadmedia.com), $3.99 e-book (95p) ISBN 978-1-4976-0137-6
This exciting collection presents two previously unpublished stories by SF legend Butler: a novella titled "A Necessary Being," and a short story titled "Childfinder," which, according to the June 1979 issue of Locus, was originally slated for inclusion in the projected third volume of Harlan Ellison's notorious Last Dangerous Visions anthology. "A Necessary Being" precedes the events of Survivor, Butler's third (famously disowned) installment in her Patternist series, and includes characters from it, focusing exclusively on the Kohn, aliens who build their social hierarchies on the blueness of their fur. The bluest, called Hao, are revered as leaders, but are deemed so crucial to a tribe's survival that it's acceptable to capture and if necessary mutilate them into staying. Tahneh, Hao of the Rohkohn, has been unable to produce another Hao to succeed her. When her hunters report sighting a young Hao nearby ripe for capture, she must decide what to do. The result is a tense and provocative exploration of power dynamics reminiscent of Bloodchild. In "Childfinder," a black woman with the gift of identifying children with latent psychic ability refuses to share her skill with an organization of white telepaths. These riveting additions to Butler's oeuvre are superb examples of her craft and will be welcomed by Butler fans and scholars alike. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/05/2014
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