Hosted by Melanie Masterton Sherazi
By Octavia Butler
Dr. Melanie Masterton Sherazi
About Dr. Masterton Sherazi
Melanie Masterton Sherazi is a Postdoctoral Instructor of American literature at the California Institute of Technology and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Riverside. She is currently writing a book, Nero e Rosso: Desegregationist Aesthetics in Cold War Rome (1947-65), about the mixed-genre cultural work produced by African American writers and artists in postwar Rome, often in collaboration with Italian filmmakers and artists. Her research into William Demby's papers from Rome, which she inventoried at the Villa Podernovo, near Florence, inspired this project. Sherazi edited and wrote the introduction to Demby’s final novel, King Comus, published by the Ishmael Reed Publishing Company in 2017, and has published articles on modernist literature in MELUS and Mississippi Quarterly. Articles are forthcoming in ARIEL, Modernism/modernity Print Plus, and Italian Quarterly, and in the edited collection New Cosmopolitanisms, Race, and Ethnicity (De Gruyter).
Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life.
During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
Author Octavia E. Butler skilfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice with an exciting science-fiction, romance, and historical adventure.
About Octavia Butler
Octavia Estelle Butler, often referred to as the “grand dame of science fiction,” was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena Community College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. During 1969 and 1970, she studied at the Screenwriter’s Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, where she took a class with science fiction master Harlan Ellison (who later became her mentor), and which led to Butler selling her first science fiction stories.
With the publication of Kindred in 1979, Butler was able to support herself writing full time. She won the Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story, “Speech Sounds,” and in 1985, Butler’s novelette “Bloodchild” won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and an award for best novelette from Science Fiction Chronicle.