Science-fiction writer Octavia E Butler died on Friday (24FEB06), after a fall outside her Seattle, Washington home. She was 58.

Butler was the first black woman to gain prominence as a science-fiction writer.

Leslie Howle, of Seattle's Science Fiction Museum and Hall Of Fame, said Butler's work explored race, poverty, politics, religion and human nature.

Butler's most recent novel, FLEDGLING, was published last autumn (05).

In 1995, she was the first science-fiction writer to get a "genius grant" from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.