Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena

© Octavia E. Butler. Reprinted by permission of the Octavia E. Butler Estate with Writers House, LLC acting as agent for the Estate. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Octavia E. Butler, Map of Acorn from notes for Parable of the Talents, ca. 1994. (Detail) Manuscript on binder paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in.

Debuting later this week at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is an exhibition called Mapping Fiction that highlights the way in which mapped spaces have played a role in fiction, e.g., Joyce’s Dublin, Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous island.

Octavia E. Butler’s hand-drawn maps from notes for Parable of the Talents (1998) and her unpublished novel "Parable of the Trickster" are also among the highlights of the seventy-item exhibition that examines the ways “authors and mapmakers have built compelling fictional worlds.”

But Butler’s real connection to the actual city of Pasadena is also part of the conversation. The library’s exhibition-related programming encourages literary tourists to get to know Butler’s hometown. In the March 8 lecture “Literary Tourism in Los Angeles,” author Katie Orphan, author of Read Me Los Angeles: Exploring L.A.'s Book Culture, will surely touch upon Butler’s personal geography. In “Revisiting Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena,” local educator and founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network Ayana Jamieson will lead a moderated conversation on two Saturdays this spring at the Pasadena Public Library.

Courtesy of the Huntington Library

There’s also a self-guided walking or driving tour around the places where Butler “lived, visited, and often found inspiration" -- aka, the perfect literary diversion for those planning to be in town for Rare Books LA in February. A map (detail, pictured left) is accessible online and in the Huntington’s exhibition gallery. 

The Huntington Library also draws attention to the LA Times’ interactive map, The Literary Life of Octavia E. Butler: How Local Libraries Shaped a Sci-Fi Legend.

It seems worth reiterating here that Pasadena recently topped a list of the "best cities" for book lovers.