kindred review

Good day, nerdlets! I am back, after a brief social media cleanse. (And I feel a lot better for it, I have to admit. Hopefully November will involve a lot more posts and discussions than October did.)

So, to celebrate my return to the interwebs, I thought I would start back up with a review of a classic diverse sci-fi narrative – Kindred, by Octavia Butler. (Also Litsy’s next Lemonade Syllabus read!) Everyone and their mum has heard of this, or read it, but I thought it was such a classic that it would be a shame not to review it.

This is an absolute mind-fuck of a book. Dana, a black woman from the 1970s, is transported back in time to 1815 Maryland. She realises that her life is intertwined with that of her white ancestor, Rufus – and that in order to ensure her birth, she has to continually save the life of this colonialist slave-owner. This leads to a myriad of morally dubious decisions for every character in the novel.

Everything about this is brilliant. Dana’s experiences in 1815 directly relate to those in 1976. Slavery, in Kindred, is far more powerful than a memory. It is an open wound that preys upon Dana’s body as she experiences the violence that goes hand-in-hand with the ownership of human bodies. (It does have many graphic depictions of violence – but I don’t think that these are sensationalised, at all. The novel wouldn’t ring true without them, I think.)

I am definitely going to read more of Butler’s work – I’m especially interested in her novels that are more clearly science-fiction (as this has time travel, but it is never explained, in scientific terms or otherwise). However, I’m very pleased that I started with Kindred. Even though it doesn’t leave Earth, it still very capably talks about the ‘alien’ and the ‘other’.




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