Legendary science-fiction author Octavia Butler is having a moment, and it is no surprise. Her influence is felt across a variety of current genre fiction and media. And her dystopian sci-fi is more relevant than ever. Currently there are at least two adaptations of Butler’s novels in development at Amazon Prime. This week, news broke that Ava Duvernay will direct an adaptation of the Octavia Butler novel Dawn. This is the first book in Butler’s Xenogensis trilogy, also known as Lilith’s Brood.
Duvernay brings her skills from past projects to bear in the adaptation of Dawn. Her directorial skill has been amply demonstrated in films like Selma, where she dealt with themes of race, identity, and social justice. These themes will recur in Dawn, albeit in a far more fantastical way. She has also shown her deft hand at adapting beloved genre novels, with her adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. Duvernay will join forces with Star Wars director Victoria Mahoney (she was assistant director for Rise of Skywalker) to collaborate on the project.
Ava Duvernay at the Peabody Awards | Photo by Stephanie Moreno via Wikimedia Commons
Octavia Butler Dawn Adaptation At Amazon Prime
Dawn tells the story of a woman named Lilith. Hundreds of years after nuclear war decimates the Earth, she awakens on a spaceship. A mysterious alien race called the Oankali have saved the remnants of humanity. In return for their benevolence, they ask her to make an unimaginable choice that will change the course of humanity.
Like much of Butler’s work, the novel deals with themes of sexuality; gender, race, and identity. The main thrust of the novel centers around identity, and what it means to be human. The Xenogenesis trilogy spans years and generations, so it will be interesting to see if Amazon will adapt the rest of the series beyond Dawn. The following books are Adulthood Rites, and Imago. An adaptation of these Octavia Butler novels is certainly be a bold choice for Amazon, as they cement themselves as the premiere book-to-television streaming network.
Image via Octaviabutler.org
The official synopsis for Dawn comes from Octava Butler’s website.
Lilith lyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep to find herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. Creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased strength, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth-but for a price.
The Dawn series will air on Amazon Prime. This is the second Octavia Butler adaptation currently in development at the streaming service. Butler’s Wild Seed is also in production at Amazon, with author Nnedi Okorafor co-writing the adaptation, and Viola Davis producing.
Book cover art for “Wild Seed”, by John Jude Palencar
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.