Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African-American writer who received a MacArthur "Genius" Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Talents, which won the Nebula for Best Novel. Acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future, sales of her books have increased enormously since her death as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. She passed away on February 24, 2006.
Some listeners may be alienated at the beginning of this sf novel when Shori -Matthews, a genetically altered vampire, appears to be only 11 years old yet enters into a sexual relationship with a young man named Wright. Later we learn that because the Ina, a millennia-old vampire race, appear to age so slowly, Shori is -really 53. The product of genetic alteration using human DNA, Shori can withstand some sunlight because of her black skin. She needs blood from a human (her symbiont) to survive, but she imparts health and longevity in return. Other Ina hunt Shori out of fear of her strength and heritage. Set in a remote area north of Seattle, this enticingly revealed Nebula Award winner is well narrated by Tracey Leigh and is highly recommended for audio collections where sf is popular.-Sandy Glover, Camas P.L., WA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
The much-lauded Butler creates vampires in her 12th novel (her first in seven years) that have about as much to do with Bram Stoker's Dracula as HBO's Deadwood does with High Noon. They need human blood to survive, but they don't kill unless they have to, and (given several hundred years) they'll eventually die peacefully of old age. They are Ina, and they've coexisted with humans for millennia, imparting robust health and narcotic bliss with every bite to their devoted human blood donors, aka "symbionts." Shori is a 53-year-old Ina (a juvenile) who wakes up in a cave, amnesiac and seriously wounded. As is later revealed, her family and their symbionts were murdered because they genetically engineered a generation of part-Ina, part-human children. Shori was their most successful experiment: she can stay conscious during daylight hours, and her black skin helps protect her from the sun. The lone survivor, Shori must rely on a few friendly (and tasty) people to help her warn other Ina families and rediscover herself. Butler, keeping tension high, reveals the mysteries of the Ina universe bit by tantalizing bit. Just as the Ina's collective honor and dignity starts to get a little dull, a gang of bigoted, black sheep Ina rolls into town for a species-wide confab-cum-smackdown. In the feisty Shori, Butler has created a new vampire paradigm-one that's more prone to sci-fi social commentary than gothic romance-and given a tired genre a much-needed shot in the arm. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.