Quotable Critics

Critics have continued to praise "Bloodchild over the years, from its first appearance in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in 1984 through the publication of the second edition of Bloodchild and Other Stories in 2005. Here are a few of their remarks:

“The title novelette is one of the genre's undisputed classics [….] Symbiosis or parasitism? As usual, Butler is far more interested in raising difficult questions than providing easy answers. Designed to linger in your mind and under your skin for the rest of your life. Dark, disturbing, and utterly brilliant.”
- Lawrence Person, NOVA

"Whether she is dealing with the role of medical science, biological determinism, the politics of disease, or the complex interrelations of race, class, and gender, Butler's dystopian imagination challenges us to think the worst in complex ways while simultaneously planting utopian seeds of hope."
- Jim Miller

“This is likely my favorite SF story. The situation is horrifying, yet believable, and, within context, entirely rational. Humans on a far away planet are forced to enter into a relationship with the native alien race that is strangely reminiscent of both slavery and concubinage, yet Butler actually was working from insect natural history. This is a powerful story, one that wakes up your mind.”
- Glen Engel-Cox, engel-cox.org

“There are good science fiction writers. There are great science fiction writers. And then there are those extraordinary science fiction writers whose work both transcends and ennobles the genre. Such a writer is Octavia E. Butler, and "Bloodchild and Other Stories" is a stunning testament of her talent and vision [….]Butler's writing style has a stark, painful clarity to it. She writes scenes of horror and despair, but also includes moments of tenderness and hope. Through it all, her stories are rich with insights into the universal human condition. If you are interested in science fiction, in African-American literature, in women's writing, or in the art of the short story, read this book.”
- Michael J. Mazza


Critics, essayists, fans, interviewers, and everyone else, it seems, who has ever talked to or about Octavia Butler always mention that she was, of course, an African-American woman who wrote science fiction. It is true that this certainly makes her stand out in a world that is so often the realm of middle-aged white American males; however, this fact really has very little to do with the significance of Butler's writing. If any black woman wrote bad science fiction, she would be completely overlooked. The difference is that Octavia Butler wrote excellent science fiction and it is the quality of her work that makes her important.

The things that make “Bloodchild,” not to mention her other works, important are the unique views, situations, and experiences it creates for the reader. This novelette challenges every reader to reconsider some of the most basic assumptions about human life, from gender, race, and species identity to the value of freedom and the meaning of life. It is this ability to make readers reconsider everything that makes Butler and “Bloodchild” significant.

Butler was always pushing the envelope with her stories by pushing the limits of humankind, blurring good and evil, and playing with everyday societal norms. She once described "Bloodchild" as a reworking of the traditional invasion story; her ability to take something traditional, predictable, and expected and twist it into a thought-provoking tale by bringing her own individual voice and ideas into play shows how well she worked within her chosen craft and was able to affect science fiction literature from within and without as exemplified in "Bloodchild."