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Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1997

229 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Xenogenesis Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer. Incorporating powerful, spare language and rich, well-developed characters, her work tackled race, gender, religion, poverty, power, politics, and science in a way that touched readers of all backgrounds. Butler was a towering figure in life and in her art and the world noticed; highly acclaimed by reviewers, she received numerous awards, including a MacArthur "genius" grant, both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, as well as a PEN Lifetime Achievement award.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect; Reprint edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446603775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446603775
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Octavia Estelle Butler, often referred to as the "grand dame of science fiction," was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena Community College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. During 1969 and 1970, she studied at the Screenwriter's Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop, where she took a class with science fiction master Harlan Ellison (who later became her mentor), and which led to Butler selling her first science fiction stories.

Butler's first story, "Crossover," was published in the 1971 Clarion anthology. Patternmaster, her first novel and the first title of her five-volume Patternist series, was published in 1976, followed by Mind of My Mind in 1977. Others in the series include Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), which won the James Tiptree Award, and Clay's Ark (1984).

With the publication of Kindred in 1979, Butler was able to support herself writing full time. She won the Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story, "Speech Sounds," and in 1985, Butler's novelette "Bloodchild" won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and an award for best novelette from Science Fiction Chronicle.

Other books by Octavia E. Butler include the Xenogenesis trilogy: Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989), and a short story collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995). Parable of the Sower (1993), the first of her Earthseed series, was a finalist for the Nebula Award as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The book's sequel, Parable of the Talents (1998), won a Nebula Award.

In 1995 Butler was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship.


1980, Creative Arts Award, L.A. YWCA
1984, Hugo Award for Best Short Story - Speech Sounds
1984, Nebula Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Science Fiction Chronicle Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Locus Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1985, Hugo Award for Best Novelette - Bloodchild
1995, MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant
1999, Nebula Award for Best Novel - Parable of the Talents
2000, PEN American Center lifetime achievement award in writing
2010, Inductee Science Fiction Hall of Fame
2012, Solstice Award, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Kevin W. Parker on February 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an extraordinary accomplishment, combining mind-blowing science fiction concepts with a very personal perspective.
It's several hundred years in the future. Human civilization has been all but destroyed through vaguely described but clearly self-inflicted wounds. Aliens have arrived with the goal of restoring human civilization as part of their drive to trade genetic and other information with other species. They've snatched a bunch of humans and effectively put them in storage until they can figure out what to do with them. Our main character, Lilith, is one of the first to be awakened as the aliens start to put their scheme into place. She must deal with the (initially terrifying) aliens at first, then, as she's selected as one of the leaders of the restoration, deal with her fellow revived humans as they are awakened as part of what's to be the first colony on the restored earth.
Though the initial conceit is remarkable, Butler focuses on Lilith's reactions to her situation, giving the story a remarkably personal, down-to-home feel despite the extraordinary occurrences. And there are no simple solutions. The aliens are doing good in restoring humanity but also have their own agenda, involving significant genetic manipulations of the restored humans. Lilith has misgivings about this which she much try to conceal while she awaits an opportunity to escape from their control. She must also deal with the similar concerns of her fellow humans without giving too much away.
All that being said, despite my admiration I somehow didn't find the book as gripping a read as one might think from the description. I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the books in the series, but without the sort of urgency a devoted reader comes to expect when he or she makes a new "find." Still, I am impressed by the book and perhaps the series will grow on me.
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81 of 92 people found the following review helpful By sbissell3 on June 14, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Octavia Butler recently died in Seattle. Her passing is a great loss to literature in general and science fiction in particular. She once said that she didn't really write `Science Fiction' as such because she did know much about science. In fact her books do tackle some of the big themes of SciFi, but are not in the `hard science' genre. Her themes were race, sexuality, and the nature of `reality.'

Ms Butler was dyslexic, above average in height, African American, and a genius. She lived as a hermit in the middle of a major city and created a body of work which stands with the very best. She won both Hugo and Nebula Awards several times and the MacArthur Foundation `Genius' Award in 1995. I think she is one of the few SciFi writers to have received this recognition.

I am posting this review on each of the Xenogenesis Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) sites as well as the volume where they are collected; `Lilith's Brood.' All are excellent and recommended.

In this series Ms Butler took on sexuality and the nature of `humanity' in a startling new way. She gradually takes the reader from the perspective of a `human,' specifically an Earthling who encounters an alien race to the perspective of the `alien,' specifically the descendent of interbreeding between humans and aliens who is now the `human' and sees Earthlings as the aliens.

Ms Butler skills are so great that this change in perspective goes so slowly that the reader is largely unaware until it has been accomplished. While some will dither about which of Ms Butler's novels are her `greatest,' few will argue that this series is superb. I have read nearly all of Ms Butler's works and enjoyed them all. I think she was one of the finest writers of speculative fiction in recent history and will miss her work.
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93 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Amanda M. Hayes VINE VOICE on November 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After being assigned this novel for a college class, I picked it up expecting not to like it much; the professor had praised it as being exemplary of 'African-American writing,' a phrase I am as leery of as I am of 'feminist writing' or 'Asian writing' or any writing at all that's judged/labeled on the basis of the author's ethnic background or gender rather than on the merits of the story.

However, _Dawn_ was nothing like what I had feared. Its story does not seem aimed particularly at any target audience, instead being simply enjoyable science fiction. There is no preaching in this book--only an engaging plot which draws the reader into its folds, the better to sink tendrils into the mind and make one wonder 'What if...?' I don't know whether I *like* the ideas that Butler presents. They disturbed me. Yet I also found myself intrigued; there is plenty of food for thought in Lilith's relationship to the Oankali and in the Oankali's view of humanity.

It's a shame that the general portrayal of humanity is tainted enough to cost the book a star. True, the thought-provoking nature of the novel is in part due to the subtle questions it raises about conformity and the truth of the saying about what to do 'when rape is inevitable'--but with the exception of Lilith, we are given no human protagonists with whom we can strongly identify, through whose eyes we can really explore these issues. The males in particularly are portrayed poorly; for the most part violent, boorish, and sex-obsessed, they aren't what I would call the best representatives of our population. Nor are the woman any better; most of them are either followers or conformists, allowing themselves to be drugged and subjected to sexual activities that they would not consent to of their free will.
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