Bloodchild and Other Stories Summary and Study Guide

Octavia E. Butler

Bloodchild and Other Stories

  • 48-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features an extended summary and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a literary scholar with a PhD in Theory and Criticism
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Bloodchild and Other Stories Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 48-page guide for “Bloodchild and Other Stories” by Octavia E. Butler includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Brutality of Colonialism and Slavery and Violent Responses Toward the Foreign and Unknown.

Plot Summary

Bloodchild and Other Stories is a short story collection by African-American science-fiction author Octavia Butler (1947-2006). It was first published in 1995 and reissued in 2005 featuring two new stories, “Amnesty” and “The Book of Martha,” as well as two essays about the power of writing and the difficulties of being an author. Each story in the reissued edition features an afterword written by Butler, which makes clear how she uses science fiction to take a fantastical premise to its logical conclusion. Butler uses the limitless possibilities of science fiction to explore themes of race, gender, colonization and apocalypse, among others. Most stories feature an African-American female protagonist and are written from either a first-person-limited or third-person-limited point of view that focuses on the protagonists’ thoughts and experiences. Butler often makes her characters vitally important to fixing the problems faced by humanity. These protagonists often become leaders, innovators and pioneers, while other non-white characters are also put at the forefront to show relationships between people of color outside the framework of a society that favors whiteness. Butler’s stories invert traditional power dynamics by inviting readers to imagine a world where the most important decisions are made by the people who are currently marginalized.

“Bloodchild,” the collection’s namesake, is a coming-of-age story of humans who have been forced to leave Earth and now live on an alien planet where they are not the dominant species. The story asks what lengths we would go to, to survive, and explores themes of family, love and co-existence. This story won the 1984 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and the 1985 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, among other accolades. Many of the other stories in the collection also look at themes of human-alien relationships, mutation, and hybridity, and suggest that these drastic changes are necessary to overhaul present social and political hierarchies. Political hierarchies, which impose unequal barriers on individuals, are discussed in Butler’s two personal essays.

Elements of other stories in the collection include a world ravaged by a disease that impairs humanity’s ability to think and communicate, a woman who is tasked by God to change the world, and humanity dealing with the arrival of an alien species on Earth. In many of the stories, the protagonists are the sole survivors of their communities. Endowed with singular imagination, resilience and inventiveness, these heroes challenge commonly-held beliefs about what is most important in building new futures.

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