This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit.

The saying “the book is usually better” is a common sentiment among avid readers, and it often holds true. Books have the advantage of being able to delve deeper into a character’s inner thoughts and emotions, as well as explore complex themes and ideas that may not translate as well to the screen. Additionally, a book allows the reader to use their imagination to visualize the world and the characters, which can lead to a more personal and engaging experience. In the case of Kindred I agree. 3 episodes in to the television adaptation of Octivia Butler’s Kindred, I decided to take pause and read the book.

Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred is a masterpiece of science fiction and historical fiction that explores the horrors of slavery and the complexities of race relations in America. The novel follows the story of Dana, a young African-American woman living in 1970s California who is suddenly transported back in time to a Maryland plantation in the early 19th century.

As Dana travels back and forth through time, she is forced to confront the brutal reality of slavery and to grapple with the impact of her own identity as a Black woman in America. She must navigate the fraught relationships between the enslaved and their white owners, and she is forced to confront the ways in which the past continues to shape the present.

What sets Kindred apart from other historical fiction novels is its masterful blend of science fiction and time travel with the realities of slavery. Butler uses the device of time travel to explore the legacy of slavery and the ongoing impact of racism and oppression on contemporary society. The story is both gripping and heart-wrenching, and Butler’s prose is sharp and evocative.


Butler’s characters are richly drawn, and she does an excellent job of exploring the complexities of human relationships in the face of extreme adversity. The novel’s exploration of power and oppression is both unflinching and insightful, and the book’s themes continue to resonate today, nearly four decades after its publication.

I found Kindred to be a powerful and thought-provoking novel that is both an important work of historical fiction and a masterful exploration of science fiction themes. Butler’s writing is a tour de force, and the book is a must-read for anyone interested in the complexities of race and identity in America.

That being said, television adaptations can still be enjoyable and successful in their own right. Ultimately, whether or not the book or the adaptation is better is a matter of personal preference. Some people may prefer the visual and auditory experience of a film or TV show, while others may enjoy the intimacy and depth of a book. Both formats have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to the individual to decide which they prefer. For me, it’s the book all day long. Highly recommend it.

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