Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 1, 1979
The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. 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.
“I closed my eyes and saw the children playing their game again. 'The ease seemed so frightening.' I said. 'Now I see why.'
'The ease. Us, the children ... I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Kindred
I grabbed this book and the audio version from Amazon when it was on sale last month, getting both of them for less than $5. Plus, it came highly recommended from an author I follow, Harper Miller.
Because I am who I am as a person, I absolutely grabbed this book without even reading the synopsis. I knew it had to do with the 1800s, based on the cover photo, and I did catch a glimpse of the words “science fiction”… but I really didn’t give it much thought.
When I started it I was surprised to find the main character was in the 70s… and then out of no where – BAM – time travel to the 1800s. I’m going to have to say that going into this book almost entirely blind made it that much more interesting to me.
I really enjoyed how the author used time travel as a way to show slavery more openly. Many people can think back and say, “If I was a slave I’d have done [insert random things]”. But she was there. She knew how it worked. And yet she couldn’t do much to change things. I think that helped make this story feel so much more realistic.
There’s a lot of questions I had after finishing the book, and I was a bit frustrated when it ended. Although I do have to say that I was quite intrigued by it and I am interested in reading more books by this author.
4 Platypires - Joood-Hooligan
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About the Author
Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.