Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)

Published in observation of the birthday anniversary of Octavia Butler, June 22, 1947
The Octavia Butler Society- Your First Resource

Octavia Butler on The Reading Life

Open Road Intergrated Media - Publisher of High Quality E Books of the works of Octavia Butler and thousands of other writers

Born 1947, Pasadena, California, died 2006

Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant. - from Goodreads

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents
I only recently, after a decades long hiatus, have gotten back into reading Science Fiction and Fantasy works.  During my time away authors have become world famous, won all the major genre works and died without me ever hearing of them.

Bloodchild, Butler's Hugo and Nebula Prize Winning novella, was my first venture into her work.  I loved this story about humans and aliens in a symbiotic relationship.  Next I read her time travel work in which an African American woman from contemporary California involuntarily time traveled back to a slave plantation in America, circa 1840.  The conception is brilliant and Butler executed it well.  I next made a bigger venture, reading her tetralogy Lilith's Blood.  I found the overarching idea, the earth being repopulated by humans rescued long ago by aliens interesting but I had to slog my way to the end.

Parable of the Sower begins around 2024, a hopefully not prophetic date when trump could just be completing his second term.  Set in a community near a totally in ruins Los Angeles, destroyed by drugs, an extreme shortage of water brought on by Climate Change, poverty and rampant lawlessness and corruption.  Our narrator, an African American woman Lauren Otamina, lives in a small walled enclave, with her father, her step mother and her brothers.  Her father is a preacher, in the old days both of her parents were professors.  Lauren has a hyperempathy, a condition which causes her to feel the injuries of those around her.  There is a highly addictive drug rampant which turns people into pyromaniacs.  Lauren and her family are in constant fear of roaming bands of scavengers.  Butler does just a wonderful job depicting a very believable dystopian vision of America.

One day scavengers burn down her small enclave, her family  is killed.  Everyone says things are much better in the northern states of Oregon and Washington and Canada is the new promised land.  These states have border guards but if you are lucky you can get through.  Lauren and a few other survivors set out north.  Butler makes the journey very real.

Lauren has her own religion.  Ultimately she learns of a safe heaven up north, owned by an older man she meets on her journey, where she hopes to set up a community.

I don't want to tell too much of the very exciting plot.  There is a sequel to this work, Parable of the Talents that goes further into the life of Lauren after she forms her community.  I hope to read it.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Mel u


RT said...

Hmmmm. Why does Trump get inserted into the discussion?
Well, I guess most science fiction is political, so perhaps that makes his insertion logical.

Mel u said...

Tim, glad you approve.

Mudpuddle said...

i haven't read Ms. Butler, but she sounds like a good one... your description reminds me of "Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Lived After the Bomb"... philip k. dick... Dick might an acquired taste, but in europe he's considered as possibly the best sf writer who ever lived... i've read most of his work with a lot of enjoyment...

Suko said...

She is a new-to-me author as well! Excellent post--I will keep her work in mind for future reading.

Buried In Print said...

If you liked this one, I suspect you would enjoy Kindred as well (and it is a standalone). She is just so amazing; I'm always happy to see someone discussing her work as I imagine that others go away scribbling down her name and checking a library or bookstore with excitement.