Madin Lopez on Octavia Butler

“What we do not see, we assume cannot be. What a destructive assumption.”

“What we do not see, we assume cannot be. What a destructive assumption.” Writer Octavia Butler’s enduring legacy lies in her recognition that Blackness and Queerness will persist in the future. Revered as the pioneer of Afro-futurism, Octavia discovered her passion for writing after watching a bad sci-fi film, challenging herself to do better…and she did. In a genre that rarely included Black and queer women, Octavia knew it’d be an uphill battle to prove herself in the science fiction space but her unwavering work ethic and belief in herself paid off. Unfortunately, she did not live to witness the full extent of her success. Just like the matriarch in her novel "Parable of the Sower," her ashes now rest on Mars, a testament to her indomitable spirit. Non-profit founder Madin Lopez reflects on the woman who gave her the blueprint to live her own life by.

Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Madin Lopez

Madin Ray Lopez (They/Them) is the founder of ProjectQ. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Madin began doing hair in high school. They knew very early on that they wanted to do hair for a living because it was a reliable career that also allowed them to use their creativity. Having experienced much trauma as a child, Madin made it their
life’s mission to help LGBTQIA+ youth. They founded ProjectQ in 2012 after realizing this mission and have since devoted their free time to making this dream become a reality. Madin purchased a vintage airstream trailer and created the mobile self-esteem building hair salon ‘The Hairsteam.’ And in June 2018 Madin opened The ProjectQ Salon & Community Center. Madin hopes toprove to the youth and to themselves, that tenacity speaks louder than circumstances.

Featured Woman

Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler, born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California, grew up under the care of her mother and grandmother after her father’s death when she was seven. Immersed in a strict Baptist environment, she developed a love for reading fantasy books at the Pasadena Central Library, which eventually inspired her to start writing as a teenager. After completing high school, Butler balanced work during the day with attending Pasadena City College at night. Her talent as a writer emerged when she won a short-story contest as a freshman, marking her first income from writing. Encouraged by her participation in the Open Door Workshop, she decided to attend the Clarion Workshop, which specialized in science fiction and was held in Pennsylvania at the time. This experience led to the sale of her first stories, “Childfinder” and “Crossover.” In the late 1970s, Butler’s success as an author allowed her to pursue writing full-time. Her books and short stories garnered positive attention from the public, resulting in numerous awards. In 1984, her short story “Speech Sounds” won the Hugo Award, followed by her collection of essays titled “Bloodchild,” which received the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Award for Best Novelette in 1985. In 1995, she made history as the first science-fiction writer to receive a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Alongside her writing career, Butler regularly taught at the Clarion’s Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. In recognition of her contributions, she was inducted into Chicago State University’s International Black Writers Hall of Fame in 2005. On February 24, 2006, at the age of 58, Butler passed away outside her home in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Throughout her life, she maintained a strong connection with the Huntington Library, and in her will, she bequeathed her papers, including manuscripts, correspondence, school papers, notebooks, and photographs, to the library.