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Book News: Newly Found Stories By Celebrated Sci-Fi Author To Be Published

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Two recently discovered stories by the great Octavia Butler will be published as an e-book this June by Open Road Integrated Media. Butler, who died in 2006, wrote genre-breaking science fiction at a time when it was almost exclusively the preserve of white men. Butler's longtime agent Merrilee Heifetz found the two early stories among Butler's papers at the Huntington Library. Open Road describes the first story, a novella called A Necessary Being: "Tahneh's father was a Hao, one of a dwindling race whose leadership abilities render them so valuable that their members are captured and forced to govern. When her father dies, Tahneh steps into his place, both chief and prisoner, and for twenty years has ruled without ever meeting another of her kind. She bears her loneliness privately until the day that a Hao youth is spotted wandering into her territory. As her warriors sharpen their weapons, Tahneh must choose between imprisoning the newcomer — and living the rest of her life alone." Open Road says that in "Childminder," the second story, "a disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia E. Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price. " Butler's novels are otherworldly, but also deeply familiar. As she told The New York Times in an interview: "When I say these things in my novels, sure I make up the aliens and all of that, but I don't make up the essential human character."
  • Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, which is exactly what it sounds like — an annual day when independent comic book stores across the country give out comic books. (See the store locator here.) This year's designated books include Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon, The Ace of Spades, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Smurfs, and Hip Hop Family Tree. (Brian Truitt at USA Today has a guide to the best ones.)
  • With characteristic concision, Junot Diaz explains the problems facing a writer of color in the MFA program he attended: "That shit was too white." He adds, "I could write pages on the unbearable too-whiteness of my workshop — I could write folio, octavo and duodecimo on its terrible whiteness — but you get the idea. Simply put: I was a person of color in a workshop whose theory of reality did not include my most fundamental experiences as a person of color — that did not in other words include me."
  • "I think I'm an okay writer, but a very good storyteller." James Patterson talks to Fast Company's Co.Create. about how he writes so many bestselling books.
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.