Scholarship for science-fiction scholars.



A deep reading of the work of the late science-fiction master.

If readers outside the realm of science fiction haven’t heard of Octavia Butler (1947-2006), Canavan (Literature/Marquette Univ.; co-editor: The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction, 2015) suggests that they should have: “She was never, perhaps, quite the household name she had once hoped to be—but she was widely and deeply beloved.” Best known for her 1979 novel Kindred, she was “a legend in her field, one of the best writers of her generation,” and was the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and a PEN lifetime achievement award. This is no book for those needing an introduction to the futurist, anti-utopian vision of a black female author in a field dominated by white males. Full appreciation for these analyses requires not only a deep familiarity with her fiction, but also of the academic interpretations and arguments it has spawned. Here is a representative sentence: “Against the tradition of Butler criticism that has emphasized a postcolonial politics of cosmopolitan hybridity and that has consequently tended to view the [fictional] Oankali as legitimate benefactors to humankind, then, I feel I must insist on the extent to which the Oankali turn out, in this reading, to be genuinely monstrous after all.” Such analysis is targeted at those for whom reading a text is a precursor to “unpacking” it. Canavan provides plenty of plot description and analysis of fiction that has never been published since Butler’s published work (12 novels, one story collection) “is really only the very tip of a vast iceberg.” There remains a “vast intertextual hidden archive of alternative versions and lost tales that will, I hope, reinvigorate the study of her work.” Butler is a significant, influential author, but this study best serves those who already recognize her significance and influence.

Scholarship for science-fiction scholars.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-252-08216-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Univ. of Illinois

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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