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On The Books: Newly discovered science fiction stories by Octavia Butler

Octavia-Butler

Two newly discovered stories by science fiction author Octavia Butler are being published together as an ebook called Unexpected Stories. Butler is a recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards and one of the pioneering female writers in the science fiction field. She won the the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. One of the new stories, “Childminder” was commissioned by Harlan Ellison for his legendary (and never-published) anthology The Last Dangerous Visions. A disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price. [Open Road]

Stefanie Zweig, the author of Nowhere in Africa, a best-selling autobiography of her Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany to live in Kenya, died on Friday at 81. Zweig adapted the book into a screenplay, which was made into a German movie directed by Caroline Link. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003. [New York Times]

Harper’s put together an interactive storytelling feature by Jill Sobule called “Dottie’s Charms.” When Sobule bought a charm bracelet on eBay, she was inspired to write a song for each charm. The Harper’s feature includes music written by Sobule and lyrics for each song written by a different author, some are paired with illustrations and video. [Harper’s]

Dave Eggers wrote an effusive forward to the 10th Anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Funny thing though, he didn’t mention his scathing review of the book in 1996. “Besides frequently losing itself in superfluous and wildly tangential flights of lexical diarrhea, the book suffers under the sheer burden of its incredible length,” Egger wrote back in the day. Yikes. [Reluctant Habits]

Here’s a rant against National Poetry Month from J.T. Barbarese, an English professor at Rutgers. He’s railing against the idea that poetry can be commodified and that this whole “month” idea was a marketing ploy by well-meaning fools. “Umberto Eco, years ago, suggested that the only way to save civilization was to abolish compulsory education. I am not sure he was just kidding,” Barbarese writes. I’m sure you’re not kidding. [Newsworks]

I’ll leave you with this Guardian headline: Scanner for ebook cannot tell its ‘arms’ from its ‘anus.’

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