Monday, June 2, 2014

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Headline Publishing have re-issued  a number of titles from the powerful and hugely influential science fiction author Octavia E. Butler with titles available in both print and e-book format. I was delighted to be sent a print copy of this classic American book first published in 1979. While there is an element of science fiction in this novel it is also a politically charged tale of pre-civil war slavery. Dana a young black writer just moving into her new home with her husband feels dizzy and wakes up to find herself in early 19th century Maryland. She sees a young boy thrashing about in a river and pulls him out and revives him saving his life just as a hard faced man points a rifle into her face she is suddenly back home in her new apartment and soaked through. A series of trips back into the past then commences, some lasting for weeks and months at a time. Dana experiences first hand the cruelty of slavery and of being considered something to be traded as she struggles to stay alive and to keep her ancestors from harm. This book raises huge questions about equality, identity, race and gender. It is powerful, compelling and disturbing. Recommended even if you aren't a fan of time travel (as I am) or of science fiction generally. Thanks to Headline and Bookbridgr for a review copy of this book.

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