Bloodchild: And Other Stories
By Butler, Octavia E.
Since I began working here in the Popular Materials department I’ve been searching for an example of the horror genre that would genuinely scare me, give me that thrill that hooked most horror junkies I know. I found such a thrill in Octavia Butler’s short form masterpiece Bloodchild.
The story expounds the tentative (and squirm inducing) symbiotic relationship formed between humans and a species of giant centipedes after humans have jettisoned Earth to find a new home. Some of us might be horrified by giant centipedes regardless, but what sets this story apart is that Butler simultaneously illuminates the emotional politics of all power relations: parasite / host, master / slave, parent / child, boss / employee. Bloodchild causes the reader to question why we do what we are told, what will we sacrifice for the tranquility of our children, and most importantly, what qualities make a person morally good. Prepare to have your skin crawl and question your own complicity in the structure of society.
Butler skillfully engages the reader, making us wonder what exactly is the relationship between the humans and the centipedes (I won’t give it away). Once it is revealed things really get juicy both literally and philosophically. Also included in this volume are a handful of Butler’s most acclaimed stories and personal essays. Each is accompanied by the author’s commentary as an added bonus.