Google Doodle Honors Science Fiction Author Octavia E. Butler

Google honored the legacy of science fiction author Octavia E. Butler with a Google Doodle June 22, 2018, which would have marked the writer's 71st birthday.
Google honored the legacy of science fiction author Octavia E. Butler with a Google Doodle June 22, 2018, which would have marked the writer's 71st birthday. (Image credit: Google)

Google honored the legacy of famed science fiction author Octavia E. Butler with her own Google Doodle today (June 22), which would have been the writer's 71st birthday.

Butler, who died in 2006, was a prolific science fiction writer who received multiple Hugo and Nebula awards for her work. In 1995, the "Bloodchild" and "Parable" series author became the first of her genre to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, an award typically given those with "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits," according to a Google Doodle announcement.

"In a genre historically populated by only white male protagonists, Butler created characters that she, and millions of others, could identify with," Google Doodle representatives wrote. "She considered herself to have three central audiences — black readers, feminists, and fans of science fiction — and challenged herself to create a body of work that was accessible to all of them. While Butler faced institutional racism and segregation throughout her life, these experiences influenced her writing and thus shone a light on critical social issues."

Butler was born in Pasadena, California in 1947. A shy child with mild dyslexia and social anxiety, she discovered a love of science fiction at her local library. When Butler was 10, her mother bought her a typewriter, kindling her passion for writing, according to Google's announcement. 

Butler's family released a statement in conjunction with today's Google Doodle: 

"Our family is grateful and honored by the opportunity to invoke the memory of Octavia E. Butler. Her uniqueness emerged at an early age when she expressed a strong interest in the written word. It was clear, even then, that Octavia had found her destiny—she decided to pursue a career as a professional writer.

"Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised. She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.

"Today, on her birthday, it is with immense pride that we give tribute to Octavia for the magnificent gifts she bestowed upon all of us. Her legacy endures. As long as we speak her name, she lives."

The first official feature names on Charon range from Middle Eastern folklore to "2001: A Space Odyssey. (Image credit: International Astronomical Union)

Google is not the only one to have honored Butler's legacy. Earlier this year, the International Astronomical Union officially announced that a mountain on Charon, Pluto's largest moon, will be known forevermore as Butler Mons in the writer's honor.

The idea to honor Butler on Charon stemmed from scientists with NASA's New Horizons mission, which sent a spacecraft to make the first flyby of the dwarf planet in 2015. The scientists took suggestions from the public in 2015 and then made an official request to the International Astronomical Union, which oversees the names of astronomical objects.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.