On Octavia Butler’s Kindred – by Tom Jackson

Octavia E Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred is a deft and fluid hybridisation of the nineteenth century Neo-slave narrative and twentieth century speculative fiction. The resulting novel is a poignant and illuminating exploration of the human experience in antebellum Southern America and provides a salient meditation upon the dangers of allowing history to be forgotten or repeated. Butler’s persistent interruption of a seemingly conventional novel with ‘speculative fiction’s oldest imaginative devices, time travel’ results in a novel that speaks directly to the overarching concerns of the two presiding genres (Marisa Parham, 2009, p. 1317). In terms of the Neo-slave narrative, Butler’s…