226octaviabutlerobit.jpgBefore we get to the weekly events which are sure to dazzle and amaze, Gothamist would like to note the passing of one of the great science fiction writers, Octavia Butler. Butler died after falling down the stairs outside her home this weekend, and will be sorely missed. She's the only science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur grant, and in a field dominated by men, Butler was a woman notable not only for her strong writing but also for the strong ideas behind it. Some fans of her work and life are gathering this Friday (3/3) at KGB Bar (85 E. 4th St.) at 7PM to raise a glass in her name and read from her work, and celebrate it. All are welcome.

And it's another packed week in Gotham. Tomorrow night (3/1), Cringe! kicks off the month of March with its hilarious reading series at Freddy's Back Room (485 Dean Street) in Brooklyn. Cringe! is, we can personally attest, one of the funniest things to grace the stages of New York, with readings from those embarassing journals and diaries we all had in middle school and high school. So open up that Lisa Frank TrapperKeeper and find those notes you wrote to your BFF about Kyle, the dreamy guy in your Home Ec class. Bring them to Cringe! and read them to a room full of laughing people, because you're so well-adjusted now.

On a far more serious note, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are this week, with nominees like Doctorow and Gaitskill, Ishiguro and Didion. On Thursday (3/2), the finalists read from their selected works at the New School (66 W. 12th St.), starting at 6PM. Then, on Friday (3/3), also at 6PM, the winners are announced at an awards reception, also at the New School.

On Sunday (3/5), in case Joan and Melissa don't provide snarky enough commentary for your Oscar-watching, consider swinging by Croxley's Ale House (28 Ave. B at E. 3rd St.) for an Oscar Party and Reading hosted by literary magazine Me Three. The fun starts at 7PM and it's free.

Then on Monday (3/6), head down to Mo Pitkin's (34 Ave. A, btwn 2nd & 3rd Sts.) for "The Reader's Room: Where Writers Take Center Stage", a new literary series featuring Marcy Dermanksy and Bill Gordon reading from their debut novels this week. It starts at 7PM and is free.

Finally (we told you it was a packed week), the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series is back on Tuesday (3/7) at the South Street Seaport Museum's Herman Melville Gallery (213 Water Street) with Jonathan Lethem reading from a recent science fiction short story and doing a Q&A and signing. The reading series is free but the suggested donation is $5, and it starts at 7PM.

And that takes us right to next Tuesday, so you've got no excuse to stay home and read a book.