The city of Lake Forest Park, Wash., dedicated a section of 37th Avenue NE to science fiction and fantasy author Octavia E. Butler on Saturday, July 29. Admirers of the author, who died in 2006, can now walk a three-block stretch known as Octavia Butler Avenue, passing the midcentury modern home where the author lived from 1999–2006 and wrote her final novel, Fledgling.
Lake Forest Park city councilmembers Phillippa Kassover and Tracy Furutani led the initiative to establish the honorary landmark, which covers three residential blocks, from NE 162nd to NE 165th Street. In the shade of an oak tree at the dedication ceremony, Kassover explained that Butler had moved to the Seattle suburb because she “wanted a home with a garden from which she could walk to a grocery store and had access to a cultural center and a good bookstore via bus, as she did not drive.” (Third Place Books Lake Forest Park is a short walk away.)
Kassover acknowledged Butler’s visionary fiction, “her prescient warnings about authoritarian leaders, and her many accolades, including being the first science fiction author to receive a Macarthur Genius Award.” Furutani called Butler’s novels “more Orwellian than we might suppose,” noting Butler’s Afrofuturist and social justice vision. Butler wrote Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and the Xenogenesis trilogy, and received Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards.
Those honoring Butler at the ceremony included Kassover and Furutani, along with Lake Forest Park deputy mayor Tom French, councilmember Semra Riddle, Clarion West science fiction and fantasy workshop writer Caren Gussoff Sumption, scholar Sheila Liming, and musician Terry Morgan, who befriended Butler after she moved to the neighborhood.