Round 2: Octavia E. Butler vs J.K. Rowling

Octavia E. Butler

Special attack: Telepathic, feeds on mental energy


  • Multiple award-winning science fiction heavyweight
  • Possible time-traveller


  • Grumpy
  • Pessimistic view of humanity

J.K. Rowling

Special attack: The Unforgivable Curses


  • The UK’s best-selling author since records began
  • Inventor of horcruxes – she might not ever really die


  • Can’t do anything without press attention


How we think it’d play out…

J. K. Rowling sat at her desk in the castle library, perched on the edge of a cliff. Chewing absent-mindedly on a biro – they were so much better than quills for thinking – she thought over the beginnings of her next novel. As she did so, something caught her eye. Was that a set of footprints on the beach below?

Suddenly the library door flew open, and Octavia Butler stood in its entrance, looking bedraggled but determined. “Put your children’s scribbles down, Rowling,” she said, “You know why I’m here.”

Rowling drew herself up to full height, and responded “Children’s scribbles? Are you referring to Harry Potter? Ha! Did you even read past the third book? Or were you too busy writing inexplicable fantasy of your own? At least my characters’ actions have an explanation attached to them, they don’t just go hopping from century to century willy-nilly.”

Butler scowled. “My protagonists don’t need jewellery and trinkets to travel in time, Rowling. My novels focus on the message, rather than the method. Your little stories are all magical Butterbeer and delightful elves, nothing of substance.”

“Really, Butler, I expected better. The primary themes of my books are social injustice, oppression and prejudice. Just like you. They may tell a coming-of-age story, but the motivations remain the same.” As Butler’s eyes widened in surprise, Rowling added “Of course, another main theme is death. Making me somewhat of an expert, now.”

Before Butler could reply, a rumble from outside shook the room. The two authors looked outside to see countless trucks, vans and cars rolling up the hill. On the desk, Rowling’s laptop began pinging furiously. Fists hammered on the windows and doors, making the old castle tremble. Over the cacophony of sound, Rowling yelled to Butler.

“What did you do?”

“I… I told the press that a certain author was working on a new novel up at Galbraith Castle. I’m sorry. I didn’t know!”

“Well call them off!”

“I can’t! It’s too late!”

As they heard windows smashing downstairs, and voices calling for “Just one more Hogwarts novel…” Rowling ran to her desk, withdrew her wand – a long, neat stick of holly with a single phoenix feather at its core – and shouted above the noise “Accio Time-Turner!”

From above, a book with a griffin and a boy wizard came flying from the highest bookcase, and as the pages fluttered open a small hourglass on a chain fell, landing safely in Rowling’s palm. She took one final glance at Butler, then turned the hourglass once.

Time ground to a halt for a moment, then wound backwards, and then Rowling stood alone in her library once more. Looking out of the window, she saw that the footprints were mostly gone – but a distant figure was making its way across the sand. She sat down, wand in hand, and waited.



Cast your vote below and tell us what you think in the comments

Don’t forget to vote in our other author face-offs

What do you think?