The feature image for this post comes from https://blacklivesmatter.com.
I’ve always watched and read a lot of science fiction, but lately it’s seemed more relevant and poignant than ever.
The series we’ve been binging on most recently is Altered Carbon.
I read at least one novel from the Takeshi Kovacs series years ago – most likely the first one actually called Altered Carbon. I remembered the main science-fictional conceit – the idea that human consciousness can be isolated, and that it can be removed from and downloaded into pretty much any “sleeve.” The only other thing I really remember is that I didn’t enjoy the book.
Based on my reaction to the novel, I was hesitant to watch the series. But I did, the first season anyway, and finished it in a few nights. I didn’t carry on then because I wanted to watch with my partner. We finally got around to it, and now we’re well into season two. We had just finished watching Upload, and its perspective on the idea of human consciousness being digitized and existing outside the body reminded me of Altered Carbon. I wanted to dig into some comparison and contrast.
Watching the Altered Carbon TV series didn’t make me think much about the novel (like I said, I don’t really remember much and nothing really positive) but it did make me start thinking about the science fiction of Octavia E. Butler, especially her Parable or Earthseed series. Though, really, pandemic conditions already had me thinking about Butler, and the current surge of anti-racist protests – so justified and so needed – has had Butler’s writing on my mind even more.
If you haven’t read anything by Octavia Butler, do. I know Kindred must be her most cited work, but as I mentioned, its her Earthseed books – Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents – that have been particularly on my mind and in my heart. I can’t do them justice. Go read them.
Although the character Quellchrist Falconer in the Altered Carbon TV series is drastically different from Butler’s characters in the Earthseed stories, I guess the idea of a brilliant visionary leader, embodied as a Black woman, sparked the connection. I’m sure that’s also a sign my entertainment is woefully short of Black women as brilliant visionary leaders (surprise, surprise).
I don’t have any particular insights to pass on or words of wisdom. I really just wanted to share my appreciation for Octavia E. Butler.
The official website of Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006): https://www.octaviabutler.com
I’ve also been thinking a lot about this song from the Strange Days film soundtrack by Me Phi Me: