"SEE SEEMS TO HAVE SEEN THE REAL FUTURE COMING IN A WAY FEW OTHER WRITERS DID": FIRST EDITION OF DAWN, 1987, SIGNED BY OCTAVIA BUTLER
BUTLER, Octavia. Dawn Xenogenesis. (New York): Warner, (1987). Octavo, original half navy cloth, original dust jacket. $2800.
First of the visionary first novel in Butler's innovative Xenogenesis trilogy, boldly signed on the title page by her—"the first Black woman to win Hugo and Nebula awards"—a splendid copy in the original dust jacket.
Dawn, the first novel in Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy (aka Lilith's Brood), begins hundreds of years after a global nuclear holocaust and is centered around Lilith Iyapo, a Black woman who awakens from suspended animation to find herself held captive on an interplanetary ship of the Oankali, aliens who practice gene trading to exchange genetic information with other species. "Evocative of the biblical first but defiant wife of Adam," Lilith is told by one of the Oankali, "'Your Earth is still your Earth, but between the efforts of your people to destroy it and ours to restore it, it has changed… You will become something other than you were'… The Oankali have left the species with little choice and Lilith must come to terms with the ambivalence of the circumstances that are simultaneously salvation and slavery, evolutionary and exploitative, transformation and cooptation" (Chang, Drawing the Oankali, 81-2).
Butler, who died in 2006, "walked a singular path… she became the first science fiction author to be granted a MacArthur fellowship, and the first Black woman to win Hugo and Nebula awards" (New York Times). As in all her work, Dawn's "leitmotif of bondage situates her firmly in the African American literary tradition, which is infused with the racial memories of slavery" (Oxford Companion to African American Literature, 113-14). "Butler's concern with racism and sexism is a conscious part of her vision… confronting this problem head on, she placed her heroines in worlds filled with racial and sexual obstacles, forcing her characters to survive." These features made Butler a revolutionary "voice in the traditional domains of science fiction, feminism and Black literature" (Salvaggio, Octavia Butler, 78). To Library of America editor Gerry Caravan, "she seems to have seen the real future coming in a way few other writers did… it's hard not to read [her] books and think 'How did she know?'" (USA Today). First edition, first printing; first printing dust jacket with price of $15.95, "0587" on lower corner of front flap.
A fine copy.