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Near of Kin is a short story, published collected in Bloodchild and Other Stories.

It is short. I read it three times. The form is a dialogue between two people, with some of the thoughts of the narrator. The topic is parent/child relationships. After reading it twice I thought the gender of the narrator had been left undetermined. I read it a third time to confirm that the dialogue is specifically not gendered, and to find just two references in the narrator's thoughts to being a little girl and daughter.

Next up is Kindred, which is the novel that made Butler's name. The short story and the novel are not related. It's longer than the previous books, perhaps half as long again.

Before I read Kindred I want to say that this is the first book by Butler that I sharply remember reading, and have expectations of before I start.

I remember a time travel story that takes the personal issues around time travel seriously; where it is a woman who travels; where it is a black woman who travels; where the traveller's experience is realistic for her given origin and point of arrival. I remember a strong female protagonist who is not a queen and does not become one. I remember personal relationships of the past starkly contrasted with those of the 1970s. I remember being shocked by some of the violence, both physical and emotional. I remember putting the book down stunned by its power. And I remember the urgency of discussion about it as word of it spread among my friends and fandom.

I think some of this book's power as science fiction may have arisien from challenging fantasies of time travel. And some from challenging fantasies of white, male dominance, both of sf as a genre and in its fictions.

I'm going to reread it now.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
8th May, 2016 12:10 (UTC)
Kindred was the second Butler book I read (I have the Women's Press edition). I was particularly struck at the time that the plot is not about the protagonist time travelling to 'fix things' and that was one of the points of the book. I'll be interested to hear what you feel on a re-read.
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Caroline M

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