"Ugliness, Empathy, and Octavia Butler"
July 10, 2014 2:18 AM Subscribe
Estrangement and unfamiliarity, particularly in relation to ugliness and the repulsiveness of the alien body, are central to her work. And this is what gets me. The non-human creatures she imagines make me cringe and their relationships with humans in her fiction are even harder to stomach. My first reaction to the Tlic race in Butler’s 1984 short story, “Bloodchild,” was disgust, made all the more unnerving because of the great care Butler seemed to take in the description of the strange species; the serpentine movements of their long, segmented bodies resemble giant worms with rows of limbs and insect-like stingers.For The Hooded Utilitarian's roundtable on Octavia Butler Qiana Whitted looks at how Butler uses revulsion and disgust to make the reader work to find empathy with the Other.
Other essays in the Octavia Butler Roundtable:
- Lysa Rivera on Power, Change and science fiction
- Kailyn Kent: Deux ex Machina by Alien
- Octavia Butler: the best and worse
- Noah Berlatsky: How do you say love in Alien, or vice versa?
- Vom Marlowe: Wild Seed: a curious love story about family
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs: When goddesses change
- A. Y. Daring: When loss becomes you
- Julian Chambliss: The body envisioned: Octavia Butler
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