Reviews of Bloodchild and Other Stories (1996)
Review by clong (2005-11-08)
I was very impressed by this dark and intriguing collection from Octavia Estelle Butler. These stories are well written, thought provoking, and challenging. Butler establishes character quickly and sets up some very imaginative settings.
The title story has several layers of symbolism, offering a vision of Male as Mother, and a vision of a human/alien society which is both parasitic and symbiotic. “The Morning and the Evening and the Night,” a powerful story about two young people struggling with the knowledge that they are fated to develop a disease that brings self-loathing, self-mutilation and ultimately suicide, was my favorite in the collection. “Speech Talk,” a story about a survivor of a plague that has destroyed mankind’s ability to use language, was also thought provoking, and offered interesting parallels to Robert Matheson’s I Am Legend (which like “Speech Talk” is also set in Los Angeles).
It’s not a book to read if you are depressed and looking for a lift.
Except for the male who would be mom from Bloodchild, the other protagonists are all female. The characters are in some cases explicitly, and in other cases, implicitly black, but I wouldn’t categorize these as African American fiction. It is more fiction that offers insight into what it is to be human, viewed through the lens of the African American experience.