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message 1: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments Here's a general topic for people who have finished reading Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.

Caution: Spoilers are likely in this thread!

message 2: by Chris, Moderator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chris (heroncfr) | 545 comments Mod
Well.... this just doesn't come across as science fiction to me. And because I was expecting science fiction, I was disappointed. Yes, time travel magic happens, but I see it as a vehicle for what is essentially historical fiction. It's not even speculative fiction, really, since the author based her story on historical accounts. As historical fiction I thought it was well written, but it didn't cover new ground. It certainly seems to have a strong following, however, and I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been expecting something else.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

This is only the second book by Octavia E Butler that I have read. The first one was Bloodchild and Other Stories. I also do not think that this novel is really science fiction as there was no attempt to explain how Dana was transported from 1976 California to Maryland in the early 19th century. In many ways this device feels more like certain epic fantasy novels where the main character is transported from the present to a fantasy world

In this case however, Dana is transported back in time and the novel, to me, feels more like literary fiction where the author explores various topics such as, what would an African-American woman do to survive in the time of slavery, what progress had been made in race relations (the reaction of Dana's Uncle and Aunt and Kevin's sister to the announcement that they are to marry), and how Dana's actions in the past may affect the lives of Rufus' slaves.

I found the book to be a compelling read although some of the scenes were of necessity quite harrowing.

message 4: by Viv (new) - rated it 4 stars

Viv JM I agree that the book felt a lot more like historical fiction than science fiction, there being no explanation as how the time travel happened. I think the time travel is more to enable us to view slavery through a contemporary lens of knowing that times are different now.

There were harrowing scenes, but in some ways not as harrowing as one might expect, and Dana was treated a lot better than other slaves. I did think Butler's writing was very good, and very straightforward. This made it very effective at conveying the horrors of the time, I felt.

I still haven't read any of her other works but understand they might be more traditionally sci-fi?

message 5: by Shel, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shel (shel99) | 2240 comments Mod
Her other works are definitely more traditionally SF. I wouldn't call this one SF either, more a fantasy if anything. We never got an explanation for the time travel. That said, I never felt that I needed one - the story was gripping enough as is - but it's not exactly SF!

Phil Jensen | 57 comments I think the genre debate is really interesting, especially in light of the Puppy clamor. I went in depth on it in my review:

Basically, I think it's Sci Fi, albeit not hard SF. The drive of the book has a lot to do with the effects of time travel on people and the ways in which our environment shapes us. I've seem similar ideas in Ray Bradbury stories.

On the other hand, I also count Star Wars and A Princess of Mars as sci fi, so my definition is admittedly broad. If you wanted to argue that Kindred is more fantasy than SF, I wouldn't fight you on it.

message 7: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Oct 09, 2016 07:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 225 comments Kindred is a terrific historical fiction story illustrating for modern minds in modern language how slavery affected slaves and slave-owners, based on factual descriptions. It is also is a literary novel with multi-dimensional aspects. I think it is more of a fantasy genre because of the mysterious unexplained time-travel aspect.

The peculiarly circular time arc must mean something. I thought it was a concept to link actions to consequences, and a symbolic notice that a cycle needed to be broken. Dana's past was her present and future.

Saving her future cost Dana some of her present hopes and dreams and peace of mind. She was crippled in mind as well as body. She survived to live another day, but more like a bird that can not any longer fly innocently free of encumbrances and mental chains weighing her down. Her relationship with her white husband Kevin was damaged. The slave owners reaped cumulative effects from their culture of depraved actions - madness, skewed morality, and a broken compass sickening their lives.

To maintain their status as slave owners meant giving up everything honest and humane within their family relationships and it required of them to give up their own escape from a way of life mired in pain and cruelty.

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