just finished reading octavia butler’s survivor (1978). although this book has some good ideas, it is one of the first books i’ve read of hers that i wasn’t overly impressed with. this is tough to write coming from a huge butler fan. but i write it off as it being her early years. she was 31 years old when it was published, and the third in her patternmaster series (a five part series), with the other two published in 1976 and 1977. she was clearly coming into her own at the time. as a hugo and nebula awards winner, she made her mark, showing that she truly had what it takes to create a great story. survivor may not be her greatest work, but it is fetching no less than $100 online these days. maybe someone lucky might find it for less, but that is the going price. and that might be because the book is no longer in print.
the publisher at the time didn’t seem to serve butler well, as there are numerous errors that any decent copy editor and/or proofreader should have picked up. i believe they played a huge role in that book not being at the standard she is probably accustomed to. every great writer needs a great editor. they are partners in the writing world and need each other like a fish needs water.
i wouldn’t deter anyone from reading survivor. but i’d advise that if you are new to octavia butler, do NOT let that be the first book you read. let it be the last!
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Below is a commentary on my book, When We Were One, a historical speculative fiction novel. Visit here for several reviews.
“A searingly imaginative and inventive work…Palmer’s [sic] feat of infusing a richly-depictive speculative world with historical roots is brilliant. Bravo! “When We Were One” introduces one of America’s most brilliant writers to a reading public hungry to return to reading storytellers who have taken their craft to the next level. Palmer is one, and we can only speculate on what she will hit us with next.”
-Kalisha Buckhanon, author of Upstate and Conception, winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Terry McMillan Young Author Award and Friends of American Writers 2009 Literary Award in Fiction
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The needle passes through your soul
Stitching together your thoughts and emotions
Slowly tying oﬀ the ends of your experiences
Binding together the things that try to fall apart
What began as a single entity with its own color and vibrancy
Now becomes part of a greater scheme or pattern
The personality of a single patch is meshed
Into an intricate web of many lives and deeds
Sometimes you can forget where you begin
And the other pattern ends
Do the borders change the story that is trying to be told?
Does life change the person that is trying to unfold?
A time capsule of many diﬀerent intricacies
Spilling over decades of thread and cloth
Engulfed in a sea of pastels, earthtones, plaids and ﬂorals
Hoping for a colorfast life that does not bleed over
As your life hangs on a wall for all to see
You recall a time when your world didn’t seem so clustered
A book for all to read
But it doesn’t seem to matter anymore
Now worn, faded and aged
Some of the pieces cannot be recognized
You have almost forgotten some of the details
Yet, the essence of the matter remains
Whether on display or put away
Everyone remembers the time it took to create this life
Caring hands still care for the cloth
Understanding hearts hold the pieces together
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Years ago, easily more than ten, I realized that my reading list consisted of the usual offenders. I read only within the genre that made me comfortable. I thought that reading anything besides what I was used to would not provide me with as much pleasure. Then one day, I decided to make an attempt at expanding my horizons.
I’d never read Fantasy novels before. So I ventured down the Fantasy aisle of my nearest bookstore and picked up a copy of Myst, which was pretty much the first thing that caught my eye amidst a sea of fantasy novels. The universe whispered to me, give this one a try. Unbeknownst to me, that book would forever change not only my ideas about various genres, but transform my ideas about writing. You’re probably wondering, writing? How so?
Well, when I am directed by my higher energy source, I listen. Because I know I am being taught something valuable. And in this case, the lesson has been something that has served me for my entire writing life.
Myst is about a race of people who write. But not just any kind of writing. They have special books. These books, when written in by the people, actually create living breathing worlds. I mean real physical worlds that one can enter through touching the cover of the book. Within these worlds, life thrives, including people. But the crux of the story is that the writers must have a full understanding of everything they write into the story, including the ecological system. Because if they lack even the slightest understanding of how the system works, the world and its people can be destroyed because of instability…thereby creating earthquakes and other ecological hazards that could destroy a world.
What I learned from reading this book,… Continue reading