cover image Bloodchild: And Other Stories

Bloodchild: And Other Stories

Octavia E. Butler. Four Walls Eight Windows, $18 (145pp) ISBN 978-1-56858-055-5

Collected in this slim volume is the entire output of short fiction from the pen of MacArthur Award winner Butler (Parable of the Sower). ``I hate short story writing,'' Butler admits in her preface; not surprisingly, then, there are only five tales here, ranging in date from 1971 to 1983. Two essays round out the volume: one an inspirational piece about making writing a habit, the other a more personal reminiscence about what it's like to be poor, female, black--and to persist in the writing of SF anyway. ``Bloodchild'' (which won both a Hugo and a Nebula ) is a compelling and horrifying novella combining a love story between a human and an alien with a coming-of-age tale; it is, as Butler puts it, a ``pregnant man'' story. ``The Evening and the Morning and the Night'' concerns genetic disorders, personal responsibility and pheremones; ``Near of Kin'' takes a sympathetic look at a dysfunctional family; and ``Speech Sounds,'' another Hugo winner, depicts a near-future society in which a virus has nearly destroyed people's ability to communicate. Here, too, is ``Crossover,'' Butler's first published story, which deals with the ghostly by-products of hopelessness and drudgery. Following each entry is an enlightening afterword that provides a refreshing look into Butler's writing process and that helps to clarify what excites and motivates this exceptionally talented writer. (Oct.)