In honor of what would have been science fiction author Octavia E. Butler’s 71st birthday, Google’s doodle team put together a super-galactic illustration of the iconic writer for the search engine’s homepage.
Born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947, Butler was raised by her mother after losing her father at a young age. The Los Angeles Times reported that she was the “daughter of a shoe-shiner and a maid.”
Growing up, Butler faced dyslexia and social anxiety, and spent much of her childhood in the local library.
“There, she discovered her love for science fiction,” according to Google. “When her mother bought her a typewriter at the age of ten, Butler also discovered her passion and talent for writing.”
Butler once described herself as “comfortably asocial — a hermit in the middle of a large city, a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty and drive.”
She would go on to become one of the first black writers in the science fiction genre, a genre domination by white male writers. She was a pioneer in the inclusion of diverse protagonists and was admired for exploring human flaws in her writing, which catered to audiences of black readers, feminists and science fiction fans.
The “grand dame of science fiction,” as many called her, won at least 11 awards for her writing between 1980-2012, including two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards, both prestigious accolades in science fiction. Some of her most famous work includes “Kindred,” “Crossover,” the short story, “Bloodchild” and the Parable series.
In 1995, Butler became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, given to those with “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits,” according to Google.
She died in 2006 in Seattle, Washington due to stroke. Her family released a statement to Google for Friday’s illustrative tribute:
“Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised,” her family said in a statement. “She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”
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