Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why is Hollywood ignoring this incredible black science fiction writer?

Octavia Butler covers
Image from Fusion

Here is a brief survey of the current field of science fiction adapted to film. Jules Vern over 140 adaptations. H.G. Wells? Over 80. Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson have over 70 each. Mary Shelley has been adapted close to 60 times. Michael Crichton and Philip K. Dick, both in the 20s. We haven’t even gotten to Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein or the rest of the old guard science fiction canon. What do they have in common? They are all white, and aside from Shelley, they are all male. While these authors aren’t telling the same story, their stories have similar themes, color and cultural palettes.

A white man has to do battle with a force bigger than himself to save the world. Or a white man has to confront his creation, a creation that has outgrown him and has rebelled against him. Some white men discover something not of their world. And once in a while we may get a person of color sidekick who dies so that the white man can avenge his friend. Repeat this ad infinitum.

With all of the multiple adaptations of the aforementioned authors, why can’t Hollywood make any space for Octavia Estelle Butler? It boggles the mind that an author whose work is remarkably suited for film and television has been made to sit at the back of the science fiction adaptation bus.

There is no better time for Octavia Butler’s work to be adapted. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she did not deal with robots, mechanized suits of war, or quantum physics. She eschewed these to explore aliens, mutants and mutagens, space travel, and biological manipulation. Her hyperspace was the body. With body hackers and body modification techniques experiencing exponential growth, and scientists engaging in genetic tinkering with the likes of Crispr, Butler’s Xenogenesis saga would be the visual representation of the early 21st century’s zeitgeist, despite being written decades ago.

Excellent article, read the rest at the link below. We're due for an Octavia Butler adaption.

Image and text from Fusion

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