Six Great Books Besides "Kindred" By Octavia Butler

So many classics!

Octavia Butler surrounded by her books

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Parable of the Sower

In the first book of the Parable series, Lauren and her family — minus her minister father — live in a community sheltered from a post-apocalyptic America driven by drought, climate destruction, and racism. But then her compound is destroyed, killing her family and forcing  Lauren to fight against the worst of humankind. Escaping her extremely religious upbringing, Lauren discovers her own understanding of God, ultimately acting as the catalyst to save her community.

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Wild Seed

In the first book in The Patternist series, Doro is an immortal spiritual entity who survives by killing others and possessing their bodies. Anyanwu is also immortal and has healing powers that allow her to live forever. She also uses those powers to help others and has built a following that respects and fears her. Doro and Anyanwu meet and struggle to coexist, a struggle so strong and powerful that it lasts from generation to generation.

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Bloodchild and Other Stories

This collection of science fiction stories includes the award-winning story “Bloodchild,” which follows inhabitants of a planet called Tilc where humans are the aliens. Human children are raised to host Tilc’s eggs — eggs that seemingly prolong life and preserve youthfulness. 

This collection is perfect for getting a feel for how Butler can take real-world issues and translate them into remarkable pieces of work. Other stories include: “Speech Sounds,” “The Book of Martha,” “The Meaning and the Morning of the Night” and more. There are also essays by Butler where she expands on her life and her career in writing while also giving advice to aspiring writers. 

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In the first book of the Xenogenesis trilogy, Lilith Iyapo awakens in the spaceship of the Oanikili. The Onaikili saved those that survived from a nuclear war and put those survivors, including Lilith, into a deep sleep that lasted hundreds of years. The aliens destroyed Earth but later healed it, cured cancer, and increased human strength. Lilith is tasked to lead everyone back to their home planet, but at what cost?

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In the final novel written before Butler’s passing, Shori is a 10-year-old girl with amnesia who discovers that she’s actually a 53-year-old vampire. She seeks answers about her former life, including the culprit that wants to destroy her and everyone dear to her. What’s unique about this story is readers are learning about Shori’s world along with her; from the beginning, she knows just as much, or as little, as the reader does. This novel tackles racism, sexuality, codependency, poverty, and more as Shori attempts to save herself and those she cares about. 

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Unexpected Stories

Two short stories by Butler were published for the first time following her passing and woven into this book.

“A Necessary Being” follows the Rohkohn, an alien culture with a hierarchical system that is based on caste and skin color — blue, green, yellow, etc. The bluest aliens are called Haos and are forced into leadership, sometimes through capture, because they are deemed crucial for the tribe's survival. Tahneh, the current Hao leader of the Rohkhon, has no luck producing a Hao to succeed her, but hope and internal confliction meet when a young Hao is spotted by her hunters. 

In “Childfinder,” a Black woman possesses a gift that allows her to identify children with developing psychic abilities, and she seeks to protect them from a predatory society composed of white telepaths. This story follows the slippery slope of mentorship and the cost of some lessons that must be learnt.

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