Author. Born in Pasadena, California, she was a shy child and daydreamer who experienced and overcame dyslexia. She spent much of her time in the Pasadena public library and began writing at age 10, mostly short stories about horses, using a typewriter her mother bought for her. At age 11 she began dabbling in romances and at 12 she moved to science fiction after seeing a film called "Devil Girl From Mars" and thinking she could write a better story. She finally submitted her work at age 13 and entered numerous writing contests as a teenager. Eventually she became the only black woman to make a living writing science fiction full time. She was the first black woman to achieve major success in the white-male-dominated genre of science fiction. A loner and self-described mix of ambition, laziness, insecurity and certainty, she adapted her science fiction stereotypes to tackle issues like racism and poverty in her 1979 book "Kindred," the tale of a black woman who time-travels back to the antebellum South; it sold 250,000 copies. She won the Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story Speech Sounds, exploring the results of a disease that has caused the population of Los Angeles of the future to lose one aspect of their ability to communicate. In 1985, Butler's novelette "Bloodchild" won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and best novelette from Science Fiction Chronicle. In the late 1980s she published the "Xenogenesis" trilogy: "Dawn" (1987), "Adulthood Rites" (1988) and "Imago" (1989). "Bloodchild and Other Stories," a short story collection, was printed in 1995. Also in 1995, she became the only science fiction writer ever to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Her last novel published in 2005, "Fledgling," shifted again to a vampire novel with a science fiction context. Although she considered it a lark, "Fledgling" is connected to her other works through its exploration of race, sexuality, and the meaning of being a member of a community and its continuations of one of her constant themes that diversity is a biological imperative.
Bio by: Fred Beisser
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