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Bloodchild and Other Stories

by Octavia E. Butler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0413013,704 (4.24)67
A newly expanded edition of Octavia E. Butler's only collection of short stories. Butler graces new mansions of thought with her eloquent, distinguished and poignant prose. Although this book is little in size, its ideas are splendidly large.' - Booklist 'The title story is justly famous. Splendid pieces, set forth in calm, lucid prose with never a word wasted.' - Kirkus Reviews This New York Times notable Book includes the Hugo and the Nebula awards winner Bloodchild and the Hugo Award winner Speech Shounds.'… (more)
  1. 20
    Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars by Nisi Shawl (goddesspt2)
  2. 10
    Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams (sturlington)
    sturlington: Contains the Butler story "Speech Sounds." If you like that story, you might like other stories in the collection.

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» See also 67 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)

The Evening and the Morning and the Night (1987, 33 pp.)
The opening pages are outright fantastic. Again Butler succeeds in creating mood expertly. Again echoes of oppression: the story is about people with a particular disease that are forcefully sterilized and have to wear emblems. It's a good story, plain and simple. I do think it's a bit formulaic in the part that hinges on the fact that destructive energy is being transformed into creative energy.

In the afterword, she writes this story was born "wondering how much of what we do is encouraged, discouraged, or otherwise guided by what we are genetically." She goes on and adds: "This is one of my favorite questions, parent to several of my novels." In my analysis of Dune a few weeks ago, I wrote that "I have long held the suspicion that what underlies big parts of literature is the way we relate to us being determined." Butler seems to confirm this, but as an analysis of the matter her short story fails at depth. Genetics is only one factor in the determination equation.

At face value, this is a story about someone who's emphatic enough to see the hidden powers of people that are feared, criminalized, misjudged & underestimated. Again, Butler being black cannot be separated from its interpretation & reception.


All and all a varied collection of which the 4 longer stories are worth it, Speech Sounds being my favorite. Butler's stories are not successful on all accounts, but they are solid for sure, except for the abysmal The Book of Martha.

A final, crucial remark... This collection didn't convince me to start one of Butler's long form novels, and I can't really explain why. Maybe because I felt lectured at times - Butler being overall too transparent about her social & ethical intentions?

For a write-up of each story, please visit Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
  bormgans | Dec 12, 2019 |
My first foray into the work of Octavia Butler and I'm hooked! These short stories of hers are good sci-fi weird, with challenging ideas (human males birthing the offspring of an alien species, anyone?), without being horribly bleak. Looking forward to delving into her novels! ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
So everyone knows that I love, love, love OEB and that even when I read stories of hers that are less than satisfying (which is rare, I'll agree), I'm still very satisfied. This compilation of short stories and essays is a wonderful insight into OEB's, well, awesomeness.
As she says at the beginning, she's not much of a short story writer. That is to say, her short stories, while wonderfully imaginative, provocative and genuine, are these huge, wonderful ideas, with lots of people to love and hate, that aren't given the time they need to reach their full potential. Her short stories are like sketches for her novels. "Bloodchild," "Speech Sounds," and "Crossover" left me dying for more, more, more. Left me almost unsatisfied in their telling. Perhaps that is one of the marks of a good short story - but I think short stories, in short shrift, show beginning of interest and then are able to provide a closing that feels complete. Not "wrapped up," but complete. OEB's, simply because they are short, are short. Not because the story demanded they be short, but because they are short.
And that's where my complaints end. So much for complaining, huh?
These stories are insightful and contain people and situations that are wholly believable, sometimes horrific, and always fascinating. Also, her essay "Positive Obsession" is one of the better ones I know for advice to aspiring writers. Though how credible am I in the aspiring writers category? Not very, as I linger somewhere between (or before?) the "aspiring" part and somewhere distant from the "writer" part. If you enjoy her work already, you will feel enriched. If you are new to OEB, you might learn to love her after this book. If you don't like OEB, we must stop communicating immediately. I have my boundaries. ( )
  barrettlucero | Aug 23, 2019 |
Octavia Butler was a genius. This collection of short stories is a great and quick example of her ability to imagine new worlds. I read this in about 3 days. The stories are rather disturbing, especially the title story, "Bloodchild." But there is an excellent personal essay on her life as a writer than was inspiring, yet still written on her honest manner. An excellent book for a winter day where you can curl up with a mug of something warm. Underneath it all, Butler is struggling with why humans treat each other so badly, why do we have wars, but instead of exploring those questions as a pundit, she explores them through fiction. This is why I love scifi/fantasy...it makes us imagine how our world could/should be. Even if there's not always a happy ending.
  roniweb | May 30, 2019 |
I frequently reference Butler as an influential and beloved author, but have still read such a small fragment of her work! It was high time to work on that. That I ended up giving a collection of short stories (by far not my favorite format) five stars was only a slight surprise.

In addition to the stories themselves, this collection includes a brief commentary from Butler on each -- inspirations for the story, comments on how others have interpreted it, etc. I loved these insights -- especially her recommended reading list after "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" -- one of my favorite stories in the collection.

These stories are just so recognizably and uniquely Butler. The way many of them get you so twisted up you want to scream and rage at the injustice -- even as the protagonist is taking some resolute turn toward compassion. I feel like I would be a bette person if I understood them better. I'd better make sure to keep more Butler books on my shelves. ( )
  greeniezona | Jan 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Edwards, JaninaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The truth is, I hate short story writing.
If you work hard enough at something that doesn't matter, you can forget for a while about the things that do.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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There are three, similarly-titled versions of this anthology. This Work is the original collection (1995) containing 5 stories and 2 essays. See contents in the Book description CK below.
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Book description
This Work (1995) collects the following five stories and two essays:
  • Bloodchild
  • The Evening and the Morning and the Night
  • Near of Kin
  • Speech Sounds
  • Crossover
  • Positive Obsession
  • Furor Scribendi
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