bloodchild5 - SF-TH Inc Utopia Dystopia and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler(Utopie dystopie et idologie dans la science-fiction

bloodchild5 - SF-TH Inc Utopia Dystopia and Ideology in the...

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SF-TH Inc Utopia, Dystopia, and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler (Utopie, dystopie et idéologie dans la science-fiction d'Octavia Butler) Author(s): Hoda M. Zaki Reviewed work(s): Source: Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, Science Fiction by Women (Jul., 1990), pp. 239- 251 Published by: SF-TH Inc Stable URL: . Accessed: 04/12/2012 13:26 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . SF-TH Inc is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Science Fiction Studies. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.168.52.76 on Tue, 4 Dec 2012 13:26:31 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
THE SCIENCE FICTION OF OCTAVIA BUTLER 239 Hoda M. Zaki Utopia, Dystopia, and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler In an interview published in 1986, Octavia E. Butler stated that there was no "women's genre in science fiction" (Beal: 16). Women authors, she continued, wrote too many varieties of SF for their work to be labelled as one subgenre. Nor did Butler see herself writing utopian SF: "I've actually never projected an ideal society.I don't believe that imperfect humans can form a perfectsociety"(Beal: 14). I take issue with both of Butler'sstate- ments about her own writing. Like other critics of her work,' I maintain that Butler is part of the post-1970 feminist and utopian SF trend which emerged when writers who were deeply influenced by the second (1960s') wave of the women's movement began to use SF to explore issues from a feminist perspective. Collectively, these writers have published over a dozen feminist utopias andhave attracted a great deal of critical attention.2 The present essay has two objectives. The first is to revealthe dynamic interplay of utopian, dystopian, and ideological elements in Butler's works in the effort to show how one example of popular culture, containing as it does many authentic utopian elements, also includes the less hopeful forces of anti-utopianism andideology. My second aim is to examine Butler's posi- tion within this group of utopia-generating writers by comparing some of her assumptions to those found in the larger body of feminist SF utopias. The place that she occupies within this group is unique, for she alonebrings to her fiction the experiences of being a black woman. Furthermore, her works chiefly differ fromthose of her Anglo sisters in that they embody an indirect critique of the liberal feminist imagination and politics expressed in contemporary feministSF-a difference which, insofar as it is attributable

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