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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Bloodchild

14 Sep

I just finished reading Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories and I want to highlight a passage from her essay “Positive Obsession:”

…what good is science fiction to Black people?

What good is any form of literature to black people?

What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking — whoever “everyone” happens to be this year.

And what good is all this to Black people?

I related to this essay as someone who has had to deal with shyness (and maybe sometimes social anxiety) and at times felt as if I didn’t fit in. Writing has been what I turned to, even when I don’t particularly enjoy it. So, Octavia Butler gave me hope reading it.

Also, in regards to what Butler said, speculative fiction is important because if we do not have a presence in an imagined future and we do not have a presence in looking back into our past, then our present is viewed as not important, as if we do not exist. What would be the point in us being here? As I said in a comment on another site, erasure of us from the future and the past, erases us from the present.

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