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Unexpected Stories

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,962 ratings  ·  276 reviews
Two never-before-published stories from the archives of one of science fiction’s all-time masters

The novella “A Necessary Being” showcases Octavia E. Butler’s ability to create alien yet fully believable “others.” 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
Kindle Edition, 97 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Open Road
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  1,962 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's Octavia Butler sounding very Octavia Butler-esque. That in itself warrants five stars. That said, in my opinion, these aren't Octavia at her best. I found the first story, "A Necessary Being", was fascinating and thought-provoking. Again, Octavia explores ideas of hierarchy, communication and relationships, something I've always loved about her...but when you have characters with blue skin, I couldn't help thinking of the Navi and Krishna. That's not a bad thing by definition but for this s ...more
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
I'm a HUGE Octavia Butler fan. In fact, her books were my first intro to queer lit of any kind and really defined my expectations for sci-fi. I think she was an unparallelled thinker, and I was devastated when I learned that she has passed years before I started reading her stuff. The idea that I would never get a new book from her was maddening. When I saw that a new collection of her stories was coming out, I almost cried I was so happy.

A Necessary Being- 4.5 stars

This story reminds me of eve
“Unexpected Stories” derives it’s title from the fact that these stories were unexpected treats found after Butler’s death. The word “stories,” however feels like a bit of a misnomer, particularly if you were led to believe it was a short story anthology. It is a collection of two stories, one which comprises nearly eighty percent of the book and a much smaller short. The first, “A Necessary Being,” is a brilliant work which imagines an entire new world of luminescently colored beings, divided i ...more
Really enjoyed these two short stories by Octavia E. Butler. They were wonderful and I was left wanting more.

Per usual, here are my reviews for the two stories.

"A Necessary Being”(5 stars)-Butler creates a world in which the color of a person's skin means they are meant to be leaders. We find out that these "people" are able to change colors which shows what type of caste they belong to. We follow Tahneh who is a Hao. Hao are kidnapped and forced to govern "tribes". We get peeks into what was do
Althea Ann
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just two stories... but one is a novella. And, as the title indicates, these stories were indeed 'unexpected,' after Butler tragically passed away in 2006. I was more than delighted to have the opportunity to read anything else from her pen...

'A Necessary Being'
The title phrase is one often used in philosophical arguments for the existence of a god (Aquinas' 'Argument of Necessity.') However, here the being in question is a tribal leader. The people we're introduced to here have a social hierarc
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
American novelist Walter Mosley opens this short story collection by expressing exactly how I feel about the loss of Octavia E. Butler and how it feels to find these stories so long after that loss.

She was a woman who defied convention on every level to give us incredible, award winning stories; all of which feature prominently on my bookshelf. That isn't to say that I blindly love all of her work. But I do love the mind behind them. My introduction to her work was Lilith's Brood: Contains the
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is such an emotional experience to receive these stories so long after Octavia’s passing. Like with Zora Neale Hurston, being given these works posthumously and hearing these voices again that we never thought we would, is such a tremendous gift. These unexpected stories were just that: unexpected. They have all of the creativity and ingenuity I have come to know in all of Butler’s work. I was immediately back in one of her worlds without even thinking of how easy it is to slide into writing ...more
Megan Baxter
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A large part of the reason I picked up a particular Humble Bundle was because it included several Octavia Butler books, including the two Parables, one of which I'd read, and one of which I hadn't. I wasn't sure what Unexpected Stories would be, but my general theory is that if it's Butler, I'm in.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at
Kima Jones
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
How I wish these were novels.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-freebie
Levar Burton Reads podcast offering.

Loved the characters. Butler makes her characters REAL.

The story though was too depressing for me and it needed something more at the end. It felt incomplete.

1, too sad for me but maybe if I had more story at the end it wouldn't have left me so sad, stars.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a joy to find this small collection from an author untimely ripped from us. Octavia Butler wrote brave, beautiful stories and thought-provoking novels. I miss her.

The biographical notes and photos are a nice addition here.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am thrilled that LeVar Burton decided to read one of her short stories on his fabulous podcast. I’ve always wanted to read one of her stories and now I know why she deserves so much praise for her skill in writing science-fiction.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to the short story Childfinder by Octavia Butler on LeVar Burton Reads and was impressed with how Butler combines science fiction into a larger narrative about racism and being true to yourself. In this story a black telepath who has the unique ability to discover children with untapped psi abilities is threatened by a white woman from an unnamed society that controls and harnesses telepaths and is upset that she left the organization to work only with black children. This telepath me ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Two little short stories that were found in the authors paperwork after her passing. I enjoyed both and wish there were more.
A masterclass of worldbuilding and characters who inhabit those worlds fully, showing how inextricably bound together people and place are.

I stumbled across the audiobook read by Robin Miles, who does a superb job with two very different stories, the first being a chromotaphoric (that’s a word, right?) species on an alien planet and the latter about a black underclass of psionic humans living in our world, a direct analog for racism in America. Must hear more by her.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Woah. My first taste of Octavia Butler, and it didn't disappoint. This is a short Science Fiction story. This is about a civilisation where part of the population has psionic abilities, and are ruled by "the organization". The protagonist is someone with an extra ability, the ability to find others with the ability before they grow out it, but she's left the organization. And they want her back.
I have the admit, the ending caught me off guard, in a good way though. ALso, at first I was confused
I don't always enjoy reading Butler's work - actually, I usually DON'T like her books - but I love the way they make me think and challenge me to look at things in a new way, and I never feel like I've wasted my time.

Unfortunately, these two stories aren't nearly as meaty or uncomfortable, and they didn't challenge me at the same level that her novels do. I'm not sure if this is because they're from early on in her career or because they're short form, (Shame on me, I haven't read Bloodchild yet
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
I read this with such bittersweet feelings. On the one hand, so excited that stories by perhaps my favorite science fiction author had been discovered posthumously; on the other hand, so sad because (a) there are only two stories and (b) this is really it - no more from this source ever. sigh. But, I so enjoyed them, especially the first story. Completely unique, as you would expect from Butler. The second story felt more familiar, as it was concerned with the issue of psi abilities, something s ...more
Fascinating glimpses into Butler's evolution as an author. Themes she would later use with more subtlety--biological imperatives, assimilation versus separatism, the cycle of violence--are laid bare here.

(It makes me want to reread Survivor, which I last read probably 15 years ago, to trace the path between it and its proto-prequel, included here.)
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This woman was a genius - you'll want to have read Survivor and Mind of My Mind to appreciate this one. ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like science fiction. A lot. So of course I’ve heard of Octavia Butler and of course I’ve been meaning to check out her work. This slender volume collecting two of her lesser known stories appeared on Netgalley and seemed like a perfect sampler size. Alas, size aside it might not have been the best introduction. Or maybe it is a perfectly adequate representation of Butler’s work and it just isn’t for me. The book features two stories, but the divide isn’t even, the first one takes up the bulk ...more
Ariel [She Wants the Diction]
This is some of the great Octavia Butler's very early work, and is reminiscent of the quality of writing in her Patternmaster series. I find that the further back I go in her oeuvre, the less I enjoy it. Her latter work is complex, engaging, and well-written - I would even go so far as to call some of them masterpieces. That said, the only way you become a better writer is by actually writing, so these earlier works are comparatively not as good, interesting, or fully-developed. They are not But ...more
Kathryn Speckels (Metaphors and Miscellanea)
This is a thought-provoking pair of stories, at once bleak and optimistic--fitting for 2020, no? I will say, I found the first story to be much more compelling than the second; the second story was very brief, and while I appreciate the writing skill that went into it, I also felt a little lost by the end--I had more questions when I finished than I did when I began. (That first story The color-changing people, the questions of loyalty and duty and love and strength, the idea of a ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I 'read' this listening to the podcast Lavar Burton Reads. His take on Sci-Fi is always fun and his skill at reading is super.

The story is told at ward speed, as most short stories are, but with intricate details wrapped into seemingly simple sentences. I had to constantly re-listen to a section because of the depth of detail being conveyed by a phrase of a described wave of a hand. Octavia is clearly a skilled writer.

The overall story is a good one, if a little under developed. That is underst
Adrenna Shipman
While the writing was very good, this book was not for me. This was more sci-fi than fiction and it didn't really stick with me. It was a good story. Two to be exact but I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. I have heard nothing but good things of this author so I will be checking out her other works for sure. ...more
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Secretly 4,5 stars, just because her later works are even better and there needs to be some distinction to validate this.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The late Octavia Butler wrote brilliant, challenging science fiction along more or less the same lines as Ursula Le Guin: the speculations are often anthropological, and she's fascinated by how people interact. I read one of her Xenogenesis novels years ago, and have to admit that I haven't read anything else by her since (up until this volume), because I found it the kind of powerful, disturbing book that I can only read occasionally.

I was excited to hear, though, that a couple of her unpublis
Betsy Gant
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
In my opinion, this story was too much of an origin story and greatly lacking in a proper ending. I also did not appreciate the foul language used at one point. I cannot recommend this story.
David Blaylock
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting idea that should have been given a lot more space to explore.
Thanks to NetGalley for a providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is not the first work that has been published posthumously that I have thought, "maybe there was a reason the author shelved this while they were alive."

While the basic ideas in both stories are interesting the world building in the main story makes very little sense and often contradicts itself and the writing style of both leaves the reader feeling unengaged.

"A Necessary Being" - this is the st
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

After her father died, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Octavia found an outlet at the li

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