There’s no limit to the power and imagination. The late Octavia Butler showcased her imagination to prove that you could tell captivating science-fiction stories featuring Black characters that were rich in spirituality and fantasy. The author of countless award-winning novels, her ability to transport audiences to a completely different world while also maintaining her brand of social observation remains one of the greatest contributions to literature.

Though readers will no longer be able to read new material from the California-born wordsmith, some of her popular works are being reimagined for television and film. A series adaption of Butler’s 1987 novel Dawn will premiere on Amazon’s streaming service, thanks to the efforts of filmmakers Ava Duvernay and Victoria Mahoney. Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, alongside Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu, have teamed up to reimagine Butler’s 1980 classic Wild Seed, also set to stream on Amazon.

Ahead of those two launches, it’s definitely a perfect opportunity to become familiar with Butler’s catalogue of prose. These five are a fitting introduction into her imaginative mind.

1. Fledgling

Butler’s final novel, the 2005 work depicts the astonishing realization that an adolescent girl is actually a 53-year-old vampire who has been genetically modified. Consequently, she’s forced to uncover everything she can about her former life, while simultaneously investigating who is on a vengeance to destroy her and those close to her.

2. Bloodchild and Other Stories

A collection of science fiction tales, the titular story, “Bloodchild,” was awarded both The Hugo and The Nebula awards, which The Literary Project classifies as the most prestigious distinction for science fiction projects. The protagonist, Gan, is impregnated with an alien egg. Though he is initially happy with the revelation, he has a change of heart and as the novel continues, is ultimately faced with the challenge of saving his family.

3. Parable of the Sower

Published in 1993, Parable of the Sower is told through the journal entries of Lauren Olamina, a minister’s daughter growing up in what appears to be the ambiguously dystopian and fictional southern California town Robledo. The first journal entry is dated on July 20, 2024 and the novel is divided into the years 2025, 2026 and 2027. As the story continues, Lauren must assure her gated community–family included–are safeguarded from dangers that loom. The follow-up, Parable of the Talents, was awarded the prestigious Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1999.

4. Wild Seed

Published in 1980, sequentially Wild Seed is the first novel in Butler’s’ “The Patternist” series. However, it was the fourth book published in the collection. Taking place in the 17th and 18th centuries, it begins in Africa in the year 1690 and ends in the United States shortly before the Civil War. When the two main characters Anyanwu and Doro meet, they discover a shared awareness of supernatural powers. That leads to a power struggle amongst the two and as the story moves along, Anyanwu and Doro must work together in order to coexist and withstand future tensions.

5. Unexpected Stories

Published eight years after her 2006 death, Unexpected Stories features two tales, “Necessary Being” and “Childfinder,” that were originally supposed to be released in the 1970s. In the former, individuals wrestle with the conflict between authenticity in biological advances and personal choice and sovereignty. 

The second anecdote, was originally written in 1970 and subsequently sold to Butler’s mentor Harlan Ellison for his own compilation. It was never published in Ellison’s digest and finally, readers were able to read “Childfinder,” which portrays a Black woman in the 1970s who conceptualizes how humans will develop in the future.

There's no denying Octavia Butler's impact in a scholarly and entertainment sense. Completely deserving of all her accolades, soon audiences will be able to see her words come to life by some of the most prolific minds in the film industry.