Unexpected Stories

Unexpected Stories


Introdution by Nisi Shawl.

Afterword by Merrilee Heifetz.

Unexpected Stories is, by any measure, an unexpected gift. This slender but resonant volume contains two stories—recently unearthed and never before in print—by one of the most significant figures in modern science fiction: Octavia E. Butler.

 “A Necessary Being” takes us into the heart of an alien culture with a rigid hierarchical system based on caste and skin coloration. With the arrival of visitors from a distant mountain tribe, the society known as the Rohkohn finds itself faced with the sudden prospect of profound social change. In the second story, “Childfinder,” the title character is a woman who uses her psychic abilities to track down children with similar nascent abilities—and protect them from the abuses of a predatory society. 

These may be early stories, but they are the clear reflections of a powerful and original talent, and their belated publication is a major literary event. As novelist Nisi Shawl notes in their eloquent introduction, we may live in a fundamentally unfair world, but “sweet surprises” occasionally come our way. Unexpected Stories is one of those surprises. It is a book that Butler’s many admirers have been waiting for, whether they knew it or not.

The Subterranean Press edition of Unexpected Stories will be its first print edition, with a newly-commissioned introduction by Nisi Shawl, and an afterword by Butler’s longtime agent and literary executor, Merrilee Heifetz.

Our edition will be smythe-sewn and printed on 80# Finch.

Limited: 1000 numbered hardcover copies

From Booklist:

“This volume contains two previously unpublished early works by one of the greats of science fiction (Kindred, 1979; Parable of the Sower, 1993)… These are both early Butler, but they are also timely and satisfying to read, with a masterful balance between pragmatic awareness of harsh realities and the idea that the worst case isn’t quite inevitable. Nisi Shawl’s foreword gives the reader a framework for the content; Merrilee Heifetz’s afterword tells us the story of how lucky we are that these stories were found in Butler’s archives.”

From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“These riveting additions to Butler’s oeuvre are superb examples of her craft and will be welcomed by Butler fans and scholars alike.”

Octavia E. Butler
104 pages
United States
Subterranean Press
Out of Print