The Evening and the Morning and the Night

Octavia E. Butler
The Evening and the Morning and the Night Cover

The Evening and the Morning and the Night


The opening pages are outright fantastic. Again Butler succeeds in creating mood expertly. Again echoes of oppression: the story is about people with a particular disease that are forcefully sterilized and have to wear emblems. It's a good story, plain and simple. I do think it's a bit formulaic in the part that hinges on the fact that destructive energy is being transformed into creative energy.

In the afterword, she writes this story was born "wondering how much of what we do is encouraged, discouraged, or otherwise guided by what we are genetically." She goes on and adds: "This is one of my favorite questions, parent to several of my novels." In my analysis of Dune a few weeks ago, I wrote that "I have long held the suspicion that what underlies big parts of literature is the way we relate to us being determined." Butler seems to confirm this, but as an analysis of the matter her short story fails at depth, as if context always trumps the gene factor, and nurture is king.

At face value, this is a story about someone who's emphatic enough to see the hidden powers of people that are feared, criminalized, misjudged & underestimated. Again, Butler being black cannot be separated from its interpretation & reception.

For a write-up of each story in Butler's Bloodchild and Other Stories collection, please visit Weighing A Pig...