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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece by one of science fiction's greatest voices
"Wild Seed" is one of a series of superb science fiction novels by Octavia E. Butler. This story begins in 1690, and spans Africa and America. At the heart of "Wild Seed" is the enigmatic relationship between two powerful, and seemingly immortal characters: Doro, a sort of energy being who transfers from one host body to another, killing his hosts in...
Published on October 18, 2001 by Michael J. Mazza

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but still something lacking
This is a book that I really wanted to like. The premise is interesting and the characters have real depth. I blasted through the book in two days, with most of the reading on the second day, so I have to admit that the book was captivating. I found the ending, however, unsatisfying. The final resolution between the main characters seemed forced and abrupt to me. In spite...
Published on August 3, 2003 by Gary Riley


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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece by one of science fiction's greatest voices, October 18, 2001
This review is from: Wild Seed (Paperback)
"Wild Seed" is one of a series of superb science fiction novels by Octavia E. Butler. This story begins in 1690, and spans Africa and America. At the heart of "Wild Seed" is the enigmatic relationship between two powerful, and seemingly immortal characters: Doro, a sort of energy being who transfers from one host body to another, killing his hosts in the process; and Anyanwu, a shapeshifter who can assume forms of any species, and of either gender.
"Wild Seed" is both a psychologically perspective character study and a profound meditation on power and desire. Butler's philosophical canvas takes in such controversial issues as slavery, race, reproduction, and gender. In addition to being a superb example of the science fiction novel, "Wild Seed" is a stunning historical novel which expands the boundaries of African-American literature. As such, it would make a compelling companion text to such "canonical" novels as Toni Morrison's "Beloved." Also recommended: any of Butler's other outstanding novels, and her collection "Bloodchild and Other Stories."
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, December 13, 1997
I am not normally a science fiction fan, but this book gripped me from the start and I couldn't put it down. Butler's lean, spare style of writing helps keep the story tightly under control and moving briskly. In addition, her skill at constructing multi-dimensional characters is at it's best in this novel. It isn't easy to make individuals as powerful as Anyanwu and Doro seem like believable people with genuine human emotions, but Butler pulls it off, showing startingly empathy with her characters, especially Anyanwu. The relationship between Doro and Anyanwu is so skillfully done you can't help but think of them as real people. The book is rich with both historical and sci-fi detail and gives the reader an almost overwhelming sense of epic scope while basing the story around a small, intimate cast. Butler is an excellent writer and this is arguably her finest effort -- a good book to start with if you haven't read her before.
--Teri
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the sheer power of imagination, July 26, 2000
By 
L. Rephann "curious about everything" (Brooklyn, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the first Octavia Butler book I read, recommended by a friend who is a fan of hers. I was not disappointed. Her "speculative fiction" contains ideas which are only a few degrees removed from our current reality. At the rate humanity is evolving, there may come a time in the future when psychic gifts, immortality, supernatural healing abilities and astral travel are innate characteristics, as opposed to legend or the rare, often disputed examples that exist today.
In this story, Doro and Anyanwu, two powerful beings, cross paths. The core story of Wildseed is the developing and deepening relationship between these two beings, and their relationships to lesser evolved, but still powerful, beings like them. Doro "farms" these poweful beings with rare gifts; he engineers them. Anyanwu just is; she is "wildseed," and occasionally out of Doro's control. Although Anyanwu is female and Doro male, their power, sensitivity, passion, and determination transcend; they are portraits of the most powerful, the most full, that a human spirit can be. Seen as metaphors for human spiritual development, Anyanwu and Doro are the fantasies many of us carry in ourselves, the fantasy of ultimate power, a power of Creation that borders on the divine.
Butler's writing is strong, supple and gorgeous. She's the type of writer than can turn a phrase so beautifully, that you'll read it over several times, letting her insight and creativity sink in. Butler's imagination is wide open. Only a mind totally open could dream up characters such as these.
Although I haven't read any other Butler books, I did buy "Earthseed" to read next. Butler's writing is a gift, a magnificent talent that cuts to the heart of the matter.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars _Wild Seed_ has it all., February 10, 1997
By A Customer
In his book _How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy_, the famous writer Orson Scott Card says about _Wild Seed_ that "nobody handles exposition better than Butler...it's a terrific novel that you ought to read for the sheer pleasure of it." I'm with him--this book is one of my very favorites. Octavia Butler is not nearly as outstanding for being an African-American woman writing speculative fiction as she is for the sheer quality of her writing, especially in this book. It has everything. Sure, in terms of the genre, it has great "hooks": the reader can speculate about the genetic basis for the abilities of the soul-stealing Doro and his "seed"--shapeshifting Anyanwu, telekinetic Isaac, and many others; and the novel has a grand scale, since Doro is two or three thousand years old, and the action starts in Africa and crosses to the young America. But this is far more than your ordinary science fiction novel. It has appeal for a wider audience. Doro, Anyanwu and the other characters have deep, complex personalities--you will care about them deeply, with love and hate and pity. When Butler writes violence, it's like real-life violence: sudden, shocking, sometimes fascinating but usually sickening. Butler's language is beautiful, but it's her plot, characters and imagination that put you in a mindlock. I only rated _Wild Seed_ 9 out of 10 because I know that some people find the ending a bit unsatisfying. Personally, I think it's perfect: the main conflict is between Doro and Anyanwu, so once that gets worked out, the story has to end. If I were to be completely subjective, I'd give it a full 10.
And by the way--yes, it is nice to have a (convincing) black woman playing the lead.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply amazing, August 12, 2002
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
Not so long ago I've read the first book from Ms Butler. I was immediately captivated by her amazing imagination and quality of her prose and became instantly a fan of the author.
All her books showed a rich mixture of imagination, interesting characters and conflictive situations.
*Wild Seed* is a complex story about Doro and Anyanwu, two extraordinary beings, their encounter and relationship expanding over three centuries.
I refuse to say Doro is a male, he may acquire any physical nature, so I think the character as a Self, each reader may assign he/she/it any attribution. This trait only, is enough to arouse many questions and situations, other writers may stick only to the rich action line. Octavia doesn't, she dig deep into each character, giving them soul and flesh, going into what they feel, their ethical (or unethical) considerations, their whole conception of life, their struggles for power and love.
All this blended in an inspired story full of action. A very commendable book.
Reviewed by Max Yofre
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Butler's Storytelling is Second to None, May 2, 2003
By 
A. Wolverton (Crofton, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
Very few African Americans write science fiction. Fewer still are African American women. Octavia Butler knows how to write great science fiction, but more importantly, she knows how to write and tell a great story. I encourage you to read just the opening paragraph from the "Look Inside" section. After reading the paragraph, I dare you to NOT keep reading!
In that first paragraph, you've got a very mysterious event, subtle foreshadowing, wonderful description, and a pretty good sense of who your main character is. And most importantly, you want to read on.
Doro is an extremely complex character who has been alive for hundreds of years, breeding slaves endowed with special powers. They are obedient only to him. It's simple; if they won't obey, he'll kill them. Doro has the incredible ability to take over the bodies of others (thereby killing the host) even at a distance of many miles. His power is immense. But he meets in Anyanwu a formidable opponent. (Or will she become a trusted friend?) Anyanwu (who has also lived for hundreds of years) is a healer who is able to adapt her body to any living form - mammal, fish, bird, or another human. Anyanwu's main concern is the safety of her children. Doro's main concern is exploiting them as breeding stock. Doro and Anyanwu certainly have different goals, but they each learn some hard lessons throughout the course of the book. So do we.
Butler's characters and landscapes are so well drawn and so real that you really never think about the fact that you're reading science fiction. In fact the term speculative fiction is really a better term for this story; there's very little science in the book, but there is a plethora of examinations of human nature (even if those humans live for hundreds of years).
Wild Seed is a completely absorbing, unforgettable book, made even more so by Butler's fascinating ability as a writer. It's been a long time since I read a book with engaging characters, vivid description, tension, mystery, and emotion. Wild Seed met all my expectations and then some. A powerful novel from one of America's most talented writers.
279 pages
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Hatred Immortal, January 15, 2005
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
Here we have an enthralling epic of the supernatural, built around concepts from African mythology. Two immortals, one the quintessential female and the other the quintessential male, are engaged in a centuries-long struggle of love and hatred as they each try to build their own idea of a perfect world among their mortal relations. The goddess figure, Anyanwu, is a stunning character and is Butler's greatest creation - an incredibly complex personage with a highly complicated relationship with her counterpart, the violent and stubborn god figure Doro. Across centuries and continents, from slave-hunting days in Africa to the plantations of the Civil War-era South and beyond, Doro tries ceaselessly to bring Anyanwu's powers under his control in order to perfect his planned race of superbeings, but finds that he has finally met his match. Anyanwu first loves then loathes this immortal counterpart as he tries to use her, but as the only two immortals on Earth, they must be together for eternity. This outstandingly structured tale by Butler is highly recommended for all who wish to expand their horizons. [~doomsdayer520~]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great introduction to an amazing author..., April 11, 2004
By 
stephanie314 (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable stand-alone novel with well-developed characters and a frightening premise: two immortals with roots in Africa go to America to build communities of people with superhuman powers. The more manipulative of the immortals is named Doro, and his immortality is based on death and destruction (he must possess and kill the bodies of others in order to sustain his deathless life). The other immortal, Anyanwu, is diametrically opposed to this kind of behavior, as her powers are based on an innate understanding of life (she is able to understand and manipulate each of her tissues and bacteria living within her body, and so she is able to halt aging and even shape change). Anyanwu is thus also able to sustain the lives of others since she is so in-tune with biological organisms that she can create cures for those without her special abilities. Thus, she bases her life in raising tribes of moral people around her, who she can help and protect, while Doro raises people as if they are livestock, to feed his hunger for the souls of others. Yet, Doro and Anyanwu do have one irresistible bond: they both know that their loved ones will inevitably die, but they will be doomed to live forever. Wild Seed is therefore essentially a character study of the relationship between these two very strange, yet strangely familiar, characters who hate and love each other at the same time for very good reasons.
This was the first Octavia Butler book I ever read. Now that I have read several of her other novels, I can easily say that this one is my favorite so far, but some of her others come close. If you enjoy this book, read her Lilith's Brood series; it is similarly based on genetics and biology as a background to incredible happenings.
Butler certainly rivals the likes of Orson Scott Card and others in creating believable, sympathetic, flawed characters; highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex & Engrossing, November 29, 2001
By 
Eric Bing (San Mateo, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wild Seed (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the first of three loosely linked books - Mind of My Mind and then Patternmaster, although they can be read in any order (and were not written chronologically). Butler's writing, as usual, draws you into the world and personalities she crafts immediately and doesn't let go until the book is over.
It succeeds on several different levels, aside from being a good read, she uses the story to explore the ramifications of a relationship where one person holds more power than the other, and how the less powerful people cope with this.
Its a book that can be a little disturbing at times, but certainly one that makes you think.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Work of Fantasy by a Major American Writer, August 25, 2001
This review is from: Wild Seed (Paperback)
Octavia Butler's novel "Wild Seed", the prequel to her "Patternist" saga of 1970's novels, is one of the finest fictional meditations I have read regarding American race relations and the war between the sexes. Here she introduces two of her most intriguing characters, the woman Anyanwu, a West African woman with her own unique gift of immortality, and the male Doro, who lives through killing, seemingly changing bodies at will; a nearly 4,000 year old spirit hailing originally from the ancient African kingdom of Kush. Across the span of several centuries in West Africa and North America, we see how their lives frequently intertwine with profound consequences for both. Octavia Butler's keen insights on racial and sexual relations and splendid prose should qualify her for consideration as one of the finest living American writers; a distinction she shares with fellow science fiction writers Samuel Delany, William Gibson, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Anyone who has not encountered Ms. Butler's work before and reads it, will find it quite profound and still rewarding as high quality literary entertainment.
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Wild Seed
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (Paperback - April 1, 2001)
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