My temporary job is made up of extremely monotonous tasks. But on the upside, I can do the job while I listen to audiobooks. Libraries lend audiobooks. This service is not one of which I had taken advantage until very recently. The Pima County Library uses OverDrive for audio and ebook distribution, and I have to say, “I’m sold.” Up until the last couple of weeks, I had primarily listened to audiobooks when I was on long-distance, usually cross-country, drives.The first audiobook I listened to at this new job was Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. She was such a wonderful writer. Even though she thought this title was an undistinguished, simple vampire novel, I found her exploration of the popular vampire genre to explore sex, race, gender, and community, basically all of human culture, to be nuanced, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Her use of language was eloquent, intelligent, and totally uncontrived. Her timing and tempo flowed smoothly, and quickly. Her characters in this novel were not all appealing to me, but they were intriguing.
Her death a few years ago while she was still in her late 50s from a fall and/or aneurism took a voice from the speculative fiction world that should have should have been telling us stories through which we could learn more about how we perceive the world for another several decades. Few women have cleared the hurdles of the sf community that can be a bit misogynist, and her status as a woman of color blew through all the barriers, boxes, and preconceptions that almost anyone could bring to a reading of her work. We needed her for a longer time. I want to listen to Parable of the Sower and Kindred again if I can find an audiobook of it. This minor work, Fledgling, has whetted my appetite for some of her classic works.
I have also listened to a couple of books by Kate Wilhelm. She did not draw me in the way Octavia Butler does. I decided that few of the audiobooks available for check out could successfully compete with Octavia. So I switched from fiction to non-fiction and will probably talk about A Safeway in Arizona by Tom Zoellner in the very near future.