Honoring the the Octavia Lab's First Anniversary

The Central Library's "do-it-yourself space," named in honor of science fiction icon and Pasadena resident Octavia Butler, marks a milestone.


What to Know

  • Central Library (temporarily closed)
  • Face shields for healthcare workers were recently created at the "do-it-yourself space"
  • You can find essays on Octavia Butler's childhood, and the authors she has influenced, at the LAPL site

Science fiction transports us to the far reaches of the universe, yes, to a variety of time periods and outlandish lands, and to places we couldn't possibly fathom existing.

But one of the most important tools of speculative writing is that it can deftly provide readers a close-up, much-needed look at ourselves, our opinions and attitudes, and how we ultimately serve humankind.

Acclaimed author Octavia Butler, who won both the prestigious Nebula and Hugo awards, took her devoted readers on amazing journeys to fantastical settings and unusual worlds, yes.

She also wrote about racism, justice, equality, and a host of urgent and timely themes that both served her science-fiction settings while becoming ever-enduring calls to positive change and action, action that's part of the Black Lives Matter protests today.

If you had a chance to visit the "Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories" at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens a few years back, then you were treated to an extraordinary exhibit that featured many of the legendary writer's papers and journals.

That exhibit closed, but there is a local, library-based way to continue to connect with the memory and legacy of Ms. Butler, a longtime Pasadena resident who passed away in 2006.

Of course, rereading "Kindred" or "Parable of the Sower" or another favorite Butler book should always be top of the list, but there is also the Octavia Lab, the Central Library's "do-it-yourself space" dedicated to the author.

The lab is celebrating its first anniversary in June 2020, which just happens to be Ms. Butler's birthday month.

While the Central Library remains closed, due to the pandemic, you can read more about the lab here. "Creativity Within Reach" is its tagline, and it is a message that inspires Southern Californians to strive for higher ideals and more imaginative solutions.

One recent and moving development at the Octavia Lab? The creation of face shields for healthcare workers, an interesting process that is detailed on the lab's page.

The Los Angeles Public Library just shared several resources and reads to further enhance your love and appreciation of Ms. Butler's writing and many contributions. Find information about her childhood, as well as authors she has influenced, at the LAPL site.

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