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I had a lot of problems with Butler’s Kindred. I’ve never been very interested in science fiction or fantasy writing anyway, so that could account for my inability to relate completely to the text, but I still felt like there were some glaring gaps in development which left a ton of questions unanswered. Aside from the lack of explanation as to what caused Dana to time travel, and the fact that neither she nor Kevin seemed terribly concerned with figuring it out, and the lack of development of the issues that having to pose as slave and master caused for Kevin and Dana, and the failure to explain how Dana really felt about what she saw, and the lack of explanation as to exactly how Dana lost her arm, the thing that bothered me most about the text, as Becca mentioned in class, was the complete lack of consideration as to what possible ramifications Dana’s travelling back in time might have on her ancestors. Whether she intended to or not, by going back and interacting with those people Dana changed their lives and quite possibly their futures. I feel like the fact that Dana brought back modern medicinal techniques and remedies could have been a really interesting sub-plot and at the very least leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what happened in these people’s lives after Dana left again. Did they attempt to mimic Dana’s healing methods, or did they return to the contemporary remedies of the time? While there, Dana taught several slave children to read and write, and yet this is never addressed in the novel. Being literate would have had a major impact on the lives of these children and could have potentially changed their entire lives, and yet Butler simply breezes over these issues. I know I’m probably reading way too much into these information gaps, but I just had a really difficult time getting past them.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    As far as the basic human interactions go, it’s really impossible for a time traveling character not to make an impact in one way or another, so I think Butler doesn’t try. The lack of explanation about the reasons for Dana’s time travel bugged the crap out of me too. Every other time travel story I’ve read at least finds some small explanation, even if it’s a cop out. But here, there are no magic-geneticly encoded stones a la Outlander or spell or wormhole and I missed that. Even a family curse would have been sufficient.

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