"Octavia E. Butler, considered the first black woman to gain national prominence as a science fiction writer, has died, a close friend said Sunday. She was 58....
"Butler's work wasn't preoccupied with robots and ray guns, Howle said, but used the genre's artistic freedom to explore race, poverty, politics, religion and human nature. 'She stands alone for what she did,' Howle said. 'She was such a beacon and a light in that way.'
"Jane Jewell, executive director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, said Butler was one of the first black women to explore the genre and the most prominent. But Butler would have been a major writer of science fiction regardless of race or gender, she said. 'She is a world-class science fiction writer in her own right,' Jewell said. 'She was one of the first and one of the best to discuss gender and race in science fiction.'"
Democracy Now's audio-video interview with Octavia Butler on race, global warming and religion is here.