Octavia Butler is one of the best science fiction writers of all time, and the first science fiction author to win the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She also happens to be one of the very few women and very few African Americans to rise to the top of the genre. To mark what would have been her 71st birthday, Google is honoring her with a Doodle.
Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards in her career, which are the most prestigious prizes in science fiction. Stories like Bloodchild (1984) and the Parable series (1993-1998) painted parallels to slavery and questioned gender norms, while set in post-apocalyptic futures (or in the case of Kindred, a horrifying past). She earned a spot in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
Butler died in 2006, but her family released a statement to coincide with the release of the Google Doodle, noting their “immense pride” in Butler’s legacy:
“Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised. She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”
They also noted that “as long as we speak her name, she lives”—and Butler’s name will undoubtedly be spoken for years to come as her prescient work continues to earn new fans. Ava DuVernay, who recently became the first African-American woman to direct a $100 million dollar-grossing film with A Wrinkle In Time, is adapting Butler’s book Dawn into a television series.