I took a brief break from the Vorkosigans to read an award winner newly available online, thanks to our good friend at Free SF Online. The novelette Bloodchild won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1984-85. So is it worth going back over 25 years to read? Well, I am a fan of period pieces so I am not an unbiased source. But overall I would say so.
Not only is the story well written, it doesn't contain a lot of cultural references to date it. This means it holds up quite well. And Octavia Butler's take on aliens is one that only she can pull off, so it's not going to seem stale or repetitive. Her aliens have very human emotions--in fact they have quite a positive affinity for humans. My sample may be small, but the Xenogenesis series goes this way as well. The somewhat repetitive element is that it's a "host" story--humans implanted with alien young. And the humans find it disgusting, though they like the aliens otherwise it seems. If you read this story, go on to read the Xenogenesis series where the themes are much more thoroughly explored, and in an original way. Butler's stories are always powerful and memorable, you can't go wrong with them. 3 stars for this one.